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Is Your Home Winter Ready? – Part 3


In this part we discuss a different hazard of the winter season.

Firing Up A Hearty Loss

Do you own a fireplace, wood-burning stove or portable heater? What about a gas or an electric furnace? If so, you need to take steps to make sure that they are safe and used properly. This should be done well before the arrival of the heating season.

Have your furnace inspected to make sure that it will operate properly in cold weather. Clean filters and vents will go a long way to keep your furnace a source or warmth rather than a cause of a fire loss. An inspection should also make certain that your furnace is not a creating a dangerous carbon monoxide buildup.

Fireplaces and wood-burning stoves should also be inspected and, if necessary, thoroughly cleaned. Creosote, a tar-like byproduct of burning wood, builds up in chimney and stove flues very quickly. Even a single wood-burning season could produce enough buildup to create a fire or severe smoke hazard. Don't do the inspection yourself. It's worth the cost to have a professional inspect and clean your fireplace or stove. Also, make sure that you don't burn softwood or paper. Using anything other than hard woods exposes your fireplace or stove to quicker creosote buildup (softwood) or more intense heat (paper), which could clog or contribute to cracking a flue or liner.

Be very careful with the use of portable heaters. Depending upon the type, they can be prone to malfunction or could be a hazardous source of burns, especially for children. Further, many types can be easily tipped with the combination of heat source and fuels, creating a serious fire hazard.

Finally, make sure you have fire/smoke and carbon monoxide detectors properly installed and in good working order. Test them and put in new batteries. Small expense, big payoff.

As always, insurance professional is a valuable source of safety and insurance information. Don't hesitate to contact an agent to discuss your questions. If you haven't had the chance, please be sure to read parts one and two of "Is Your Home Winter Ready" which discusses other winter concerns.


COPYRIGHT: Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc. 2017

All rights reserved. Production or distribution, whether in whole or in part, in any form of media or language; and no matter what country, state or territory, is expressly forbidden without written consent of Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc.

 

Is Your Home Winter Ready? – Part 2


In this part we discuss an important legal responsibility created for homeowners by the winter season.

Creating A Clear Liability

Snow doesn't show favoritism. Instead of conveniently falling onto unused areas, it covers homes, sidewalks and driveways. As a responsible homeowner you should arrange to make travel across your property safe. This calls for clearing your walkways of snow and ice. It is also important to clear your property of items such as rakes, shovels, tools, toys and similar items. Remember that it takes only a small amount of snow to hide items that, during clear conditions, are easily seen and avoided. So take time to move such property and make repairs to uneven or cracked pavement.

Keep in mind that clearing walkways (including stairs) is an invitation for pedestrians to use the path. So, once you clear an area, it has to be kept clear and safe, especially from ice. Also, avoid creating piles of snow that can block either a driver's or a pedestrian's view. Finally, be sure that your property is safe for children who are enjoying winter. Don't allow children to slide around without being aware of pedestrians or motorized traffic and don't let anyone throw snow or ice balls at cars (you could be sued for any accident caused by careless play) related from the use of your property or premises.

Don't forget the inside of your home. Visitors should be kept safe from harm. Be sure to keep interior stairs and floors clear of the watery remains of melted snow. Keep things dry and consider using mats that provide good traction and an area where folks can clear snow and ice from their shoes or boots.

As always, an insurance professional is a valuable source of safety and insurance information. Don't hesitate to contact an agent to discuss your questions. If you haven't had the chance, please be sure to read parts one and three of "Is Your Home Winter Ready" which discusses other winter concerns.


COPYRIGHT: Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc. 2017

All rights reserved. Production or distribution, whether in whole or in part, in any form of media or language; and no matter what country, state or territory, is expressly forbidden without written consent of Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc.

 

A Stormy Issue

Island paradises and tropical locales are always popular. The water, the beaches, the warm winds are very attractive conditions. However, they are also the originating locales for tropical storms and hurricanes.

The dark side of the tropics is that all of the water and warm temperatures make up the key ingredients for cooking up massive storms. The low pressure areas allow the build-up of violent wind movement that is fuel by warmth and water. The hurricane season is a long parade of storms that form, build in power and size and then move toward land, and property……and people.

Often the major worry is “what is the storm’s category?” A storm’s potential life cycle goes may go from Normal Conditions – Tropical Depression – Tropical Storm – Hurricane (Category 1 up to Category 5).

Naturally it makes sense to be highly concerned about the size of storm surges (water and waves pushed by storms) and wind speeds; but less powerful storms do not automatically mean that there is less danger! Even when a storm does not maintain hurricane status, it can cause tremendous problems as it travels hundreds, even thousands of miles!

A slow-moving tropical storm or low category hurricane may not cause as many problems with wind damage; but may create wide-spread, substantial damage by inundating large areas with torrential rains. Massive amounts of water, smashing through areas where they shouldn’t be, is capable of washing away cars, trucks, boats, homes, businesses, bridges, roads and even lives.

In the aftermath, the incredible challenge is to rebuild and, without proper protection - such as flood insurance - the challenge may become impossible. The wish may be that you never have to deal with flooding caused by huge storms….the hope is that, if you do, you CAN deal with it. Flood insurance can be the key to your recovery!

 

COPYRIGHT: Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc. 2017

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Is Your Home Winter Ready? – Part 1


If you live in a climate that includes cold winters, you know the season creates special challenges for homeowners. In this article, we discuss an icy situation.

Ice Dams

An ice dam refers to ice that has formed along a roof's edge. The dam of ice blocks additional water and the pooling water backs up and finds pathways into a home's interior. This water may cause deterioration and decay to interior wood and plaster, drywall or other insulation materials. Once an ice dam has forced paths into a home, the roof becomes more susceptible to future ice dams and water damage.

Too much heat rising from the home to warm the roof is the most frequent cause of ice dams. The process occurs unevenly with the warmer area at the higher part of the roof melting the snow and then the cooler, lower area, particularly the roof edge, permitting the water to refreeze and then accumulate. Inadequate insulation lets too much heat escape into the attic and this creates a warmer roof. Improper ventilation creates moisture and heat buildup due to the lack of air movement.

How To Detect A Problem

Compare the way the snow is melting from the living area of your home with how snow appears on the roof over an unheated area such as a garage or shed. How does any snow coverage on your roof compare with your neighbors' homes? Check for icicles. They can be pretty, but heavy icicle buildup means that interior heat is melting a lot of snow and may contribute to ice dams.

How To Prevent Ice Dams

There are a number of ways to help prevent ice dams:

  • Clear excess snow from the roof. However, in order to minimize damage to the roof and roofing, hire a professional to remove the snow.
  • Add rubberized or special roofing adhesives to help prevent pooled water on the roof from finding entry into the home's interior.
  • Inspect the attic and roof for cracks, holes, or joints that permit warm air to escape to the roof, and seal or repair these areas.
  • Add the recommended amount of insulation to the attic and exterior walls of your home to minimize escaping heat (this also reduces your heating costs).
  • Reduce your home's thermostat and throw on warmer clothing during extended cold spells.
  • Clear your gutters and downspouts so that water is properly shed off your roof.

As always, an insurance professional is a valuable source of safety and insurance information. Don't hesitate to contact an agent to discuss your questions. If you haven't had the chance, please be sure to read parts two and three of "Is Your Home Winter Ready" which discusses other winter concerns.


COPYRIGHT: Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc. 2017

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Special Property, Special Coverage – Part 2


Part 1 of this article was about the typical homeowners policy containing substantial coverage limitations for certain types of property. This part concerns how to deal with this limitation.

Handling The Limited Coverage Situation

Insurance companies are happy to provide more coverage, if they are paid for their trouble. Specifically, limited coverage can be handled using the following methods:

Increased Coverage C Endorsement - this form is only appropriate for property saddled with limited coverage for theft losses. This form is attached to a basic policy and it increases the theft insurance limit (i.e. for jewelry from $1,500 to $5,000).

Scheduled Personal Property Endorsement - this form is used for increasing coverage for property that has protection reduced for all sources of loss. The property is removed from the basic policy's limits and is covered exclusively by the endorsement. This form takes more work since each item of property has to be listed and assigned a particular insurance limit.

Inland Marine Property Floater - this method works like the personal property endorsement, except that it is a separate policy. This alternative is more appropriate for persons owning substantial amounts of high-valued property. The coverage must often be purchased from specialized insurers and comes at a high cost. In order to qualify for such coverage, you may need to meet special circumstances such as having a residential alarm system or make use of vault storage.

Another Advantage Of Special Handling

In order to arrange coverage under a schedule or an inland marine policy, the property must be properly valued. This often involves appraising the property. It's very helpful to have an expert source establish the current value of jewelry, furs or other valuable possessions. In fact, such property should be appraised every two or three years since their values often increase over time.

Do you still have questions about property that needs special handling? Talk to an insurance professional about your needs and make sure that you have proper protection.


COPYRIGHT: Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc. 2017

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Special Property, Special Coverage – Part 1


A standard homeowners policy offers a limit equal to half of the amount reserved for the residence to protect against loss to a given residence’s personal Property (ex. Your home is covered for $150,000, so your contents and furnishings are covered for $75,000). While this is generous coverage, it doesn't extend to all types of property nor for all causes of loss. Certain types of property, because of its high value and liquidity, is far more vulnerable to loss...either easily destroyed, easily stolen or both. So, to compensate for this difference, insurers use coverage restrictions.

Theft Coverage Limitations

When property is lost due to theft, coverage under a standard homeowner policy is severely limited (generally $1,000 - $2,500) for the following types of property:

  • jewelry, watches, furs, and gemstones
  • dinnerware, serving sets, trophies and similar property made of or plated with silver, gold, platinum or pewter
  • for firearms, accessories and related property

Other Coverage Limitations

Several categories of property are subject to very modest limits ($200 - $2,500) of coverage, regardless of the cause of loss (theft, fire, accidental breakage, etc.). Specifically:

  • money, bank notes, coins, medals, gold, silver and platinum (other than jewelry or dinnerware)
  • securities, accounts, deeds, tickets, stamps, manuscripts, passports and similar property
  • watercraft and related property including their trailers
  • trailers not used with watercraft
  • business property located in your residence
  • business property located away from your residence
  • certain types of electronic property which is lost or damaged while in a car or is located away from your home and used for business.

Please refer to part 2 on how to get more coverage for these classes of personal property.


COPYRIGHT: Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc. 2017

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Everyday I’m Shoveling


If you live in desert or tropical climes, this article is not for you. However, if you own either a business or residential property in an area that experiences frigid, winter weather, this season adds a burden that needs your attention…..snow removal.

Both residential and commercial property owners know the familiar drill after a significant snow fall. It involves either picking up a shovel, starting up the snow blower, or hiring a snowplow service to clear out the driveway or the employee and customer parking lots. In many instances, the removal effort ends there…and that may represent a shirked responsibility. 

Once driveways and lots are clear, many property and business owners forget about sidewalks and other paths used by pedestrians. Besides being a poor neighbor, failure to clear walkways may cause other problems. Snow that hasn’t been removed makes it very difficult for pedestrians to make their way, whether it is to school, work or to go shopping. It also creates extra danger. Sidewalks are often close to streets and snow that is cleared for vehicles is usually piled along walkways. Pedestrians often have to deal with snowfall amounts that are supplemented by added snow from plows. Pedestrians may be forced to enter the edges of streets to walk, going through road slush and ice while dangerously close to vehicular traffic. It is very important for property owners to clear their part of snow covered walkways. 

Snow removal isn’t just about being a good residential or business neighbor. It is typically a legal requirement. Many cities and towns have active ordinances requiring that walkways be cleared for use. Failure to do so may result in warnings and fines. The latter can easily become substantial since they could be levied on a daily basis. 

Another, more critical, concern is to practice risk management. A pedestrian injured while trying to navigate an obstructed walkway can easily lead to a lawsuit. Why would any reasonable property or business owner want to voluntarily face such a preventable source of loss? 


COPYRIGHT: Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc. 2016

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Back Off The Beach


In recent years, major storms in the U.S. have created massive amounts of damage to property, particularly along coastal areas. Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy continue to affect the lives and economies of entire regions. In the future, whether due to historic trends or the effect of global warming, forecasts indicate that similar, huge and powerful storms may become fairly common. That means more catastrophes that will injure or kill residents and cause economic havoc.

The problems caused by coastal storms are substantially compounded by a long-term weather trend. Largely our population continues to grow along our coasts, meaning that more people, more homes, more businesses, and more infrastructures will become possible storm victims. Besides storm activity, there is also the significant issue of rising sea-levels. Construction in low-lying areas today may be underwater in the future.

While storms, diminishing shorelines and their impact are mass events, they are still suffered on, ultimately, an individual level. Therefore, individual decisions are important. In other words, what do you do with regard to the danger of storms? What decisions do you make with regard to property on degrading shores? Some experts have begun to question the sanity and viability of continuing to live in areas which face a near certainty of significant storm activity and eroding shores. We may have reached a point where, rather than trying to deal with rebuilding communities, restoring beach fronts and trying to mitigate damage that we do something extreme…..move!

Individual residence and businessowners may need to make different decisions about property that is constantly endangered by storms and seas. When such property is destroyed, rather than rebuild in the same manner as before, the optimum options may be to either rebuild on an elevated, reinforced basis or to build elsewhere, in a place less prone to such dangers.

Increasingly our country’s and insurance industry’s resources will be drained by the challenge of handling massive damage in vulnerable, coastal areas. Increasingly, individual decisions, market forces and public resources may force a significant retreat from the beach.


COPYRIGHT: Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc. 2016

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How Wild Is That Fire?


There are a number of ways that Nature is capable of completely hammering us. Winds, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes are commonly viewed as catastrophes. One source that is garnering greater attention is fire. Yes, fires are typically seen as losses that are localized, affecting individual properties. However, fires can affect things on a catastrophic level when they are wildfires, flames that spread very quickly over large areas of brush and trees.

Wildfires can occur in any place with heavy forestation that experiences a protracted dry spell which makes such areas vulnerable to fire. Such fires occur due to a variety of reasons, especially from lightning strikes and, sadly, from human error such as mishandled or abandoned campfires, fireworks and arson. 

Wildfires occur primarily in the West, Southwest and Southern portions of the U.S. They occur in the tens of thousands each year and generate tens of millions of dollars in losses.  Wildfires, by far, start, burn and end without negative consequences. In fact, wildfires are quite necessary in the life cycle of forests, helping to clear out strangling underbrush and encouraging new growth. However, problems arise when humans and nature interact.

Many persons enjoy wooded locales and communities often spring up in places that are highly vulnerable to large-scale fires. When they occur near residences and towns, alerts arise, tracking fire progress, sending in resources and working on mitigating possible loss.

Areas threatened by hurricanes, quakes and storms are assisted by methods of tracking and assessing the danger. Wildfires are now entering the era where fires can be assessed in a similar manner. Currently wildfire evaluation has more to do with judging area conditions, assessing how temperatures, drought levels, and available fuel sources affect the likelihood of fire. Vulnerability is described as low, moderate, high and extreme. However, while still undergoing study and refinement, wildfires will now be classified after they occur, placed in categories that will help others better prepare a course of action such as when to clear property of possible fuel, take other mitigating action and/or when to decide to vacate property for safe areas.


COPYRIGHT: Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc. 2013

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Wondering About Wind


Winds are the world’s weather engine and, as is the case with other elements of nature, man’s relationship with it can be perilous. Storms always bring the threat of injury and damage to property. For persons in the path of storms, the more information they receive, the better. We make increasing use of technology to improve how far in advance we can predict and track storms. Recently there have been advancements in assessing the level of threat presented by winter storms.

Circulating and straight-line winds can create major problems on their own. However, it is in combination with other elements where they are even more dangerous. In cold weather, cities and towns are often crippled by snow and ice activity. Having more accurate information may allow better planning and more effective warnings can save money and, more importantly, lives. 

Measurement systems have been in place for many years. The Enhanced Fujita Scale measures the power of tornadoes. The Saffir-Simpson Scale classifies hurricanes. A newer measurement, called the Sperry-Piltz Ice Accumulation Index assesses the threat to overhead utilities presented by ice.

Similar to the Fujita and Saffir scales, the Sperry-Piltz scale classifies winter storm systems on an ascending; five point scale that describes the threat of different levels of snow and ice accumulation. A given storm system is assigned different categories. Winter storm systems are often huge and different parts (such as the storm core and outer edges) present different threat levels.

The Sperry-Piltz scale can assist with predicting the threat of power line damage, related power outages and road danger due to levels of snow and ice. The information can help authorities in making decisions on deploying emergency and repair resources to deal with storm activity. It can also facilitate decisions on travel advisories. With storms, the ability to prepare is increasingly important and the Sperry-Piltz Scale is a welcome and needed tool.


COPYRIGHT: Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc. 2014

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Crime Insurance – Part 1


What one has, another one wants. Usually we find legitimate means to get what we desire. However, there are the few among us who go the route of merely taking from others, especially from businesses. Crime is one of the many, serious exposures to loss where insurance protection is needed. Since other forms of coverage, such as property and inland marine policies, offer such limited protection against crime-related losses, crime insurance is necessary. 

Crime insurance coverage may be purchased as a separate policy, or it may be added as a supplement to other coverage. Crime losses are handled in two distinct ways. One is on a discovery basis. It refers to a crime loss that is first discovered during a given period of crime insurance coverage. The actual loss may have occurred at an earlier time. The other method is a loss sustained basis which responds to losses both sustained and discovered within the policy period. It also handles losses that are sustained during the policy period and discovered within one year after the end of that policy period.

While all businesses are vulnerable to crime loss, their vulnerability differs. One business may be most threatened by internal sources of loss (dishonest employees) while others face a larger threat from burglars. Crime coverage is structured so a given business can select limits of protection that best fits its circumstances. Typical coverage includes the following:

 

Coverage

Applies To Loss Involving:

Employee Theft

The unlawful taking of money, securities and other property by employees.

Forgery and Alteration

Outsiders that forge or alter checks, drafts, notes or other written promises, orders or business account directions

Inside the Premises

Theft, disappearance or destruction of money and securities from within the insured premises or its banking premises. Also covers premises damage caused by theft attempts.

Inside the Premises–Robbery or Safe Burglary of Other Property

Robbery of a person in charge of the property or safe burglary of other property that occurs inside the premises. Also covers damage caused by robbery attempts.

Outside the Premises 

Theft, disappearance and destruction of money and securities that occur outside the premises when that property’s in the custody of a messenger or an armored car company.

Computer Fraud

Money, securities and other property fraudulently transferred from the insured premises or banking premises by electronic means.

Funds Transfer Fraud

Funds lost as a direct result of fraudulent instructions directing a financial institution to transfer, pay or deliver funds from a transfer account.

Money Orders and Counterfeit Money

Counterfeit money accepted in good faith in exchange for purchases. Also covers money orders accepted by a business which are then rejected when presented to issuer for payment.

 

Please see part 2 which discusses situations that are commonly excluded from Crime policies.


COPYRIGHT: Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc. 2015

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Crime Insurance – Part 2


Part 1 discussed the valuable protection provided by Crime Insurance. However, companies that offer this coverage have to protect themselves from illegitimate claims. The sad reality is that businessowners and their employees are in the best position to steal or commit fraud. Therefore, there are many situations that do not qualify under a Crime Insurance Policy.

Ineligible situations include the following:

  • Acts Committed by the insured business (including business partners and employees).
  • Acts of Employees when the insurance company learned that an insured businessowner knew about the acts before the Crime Insurance Policy was obtained.
  • Acts of Employees, Managers, Directors, Trustees or Representatives. However, this exclusion does not apply to the policy’s Employee Theft provision. 
  • Loss caused by unauthorized use of confidential business information. 
  • Governmental Action (such as property seizure, forfeiture or destruction).
  • Indirect Income Loss (due to loss of access to money, securities or other property).
  • Legal Fees, Costs and Expenses related to any legal proceedings.

Other situations that are barred for coverage include securities trading and losses that can only be proved by warehouse receipts or inventories. The latter situations aren’t covered because such information can be easily manipulated to make it seem that a loss has occurred.

The reality is that businessowners have to make suspicious assumptions against both insiders and outsiders when it comes to protecting their assets. Fortunately, Crime Insurance Coverage is available to help meet such sources of loss.


COPYRIGHT: Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc. 2015

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Contractors or Cons?


Your home may be destroyed by a fire, flood, storm or other catastrophe. You're scrambling around to get your life back in order and you may think that things couldn't get worse. Well, they can and often do because of people who can't spell contractor without c-o-n.

The period after a serious loss is hectic, emotional and disorienting. Your major concern is to get your home repaired or rebuilt. These elements make you very vulnerable to "CONtractors" - people who specialize in victimization instead of construction and in rip-offs rather than repairs.

Slow Down And Make Good Decisions

While you may be in a hurry to restore your loss, it is critically important to avoid persons who appear on your damaged doorstep offering to start construction. While handling a serious loss, think of taking precautions such as the following in order to avoid compounding your problems:

  • Pay attention to any "feelings" you get about any contractor, particularly when they initiate contact
  • Refuse to pay any money "up front"; a reputable contractor always works according to a written agreement, spelling out cost of materials, labor and other important work details
  • Contact more than one contractor to get competitive estimates
  • Make sure that any contractor you talk to provides references and proof that they are insured
  • Check references and ask for evidence of how long the contractor has been in business
  • If a local chapter is available, call the Better Business Bureau and check for complaints
  • Ignore any tactics intended to pressure you into making an immediate financial commitment.

Keep in touch with an insurance professional during such trying times. They're already committed to providing genuine help.


COPYRIGHT: Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc. 2016

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Dwelling Fire Coverage


The dwelling fire coverage form was once the only option for providing residential property insurance. Then, it only offered modest coverage for private building property and personal contents. As time passed, the evolution of specialized forms resulted in the program being replaced by the homeowners policy. The availability of a package coverage form that protected an individual’s property and provided coverage against losses involving his or her legal liability to others substantially reduced the amount of business written under the dwelling fire program.

Today, it is rare to find a company that handles dwelling fire as anything more than a method to accommodate private residential risks which, for various reasons, don’t qualify for homeowners coverage. Typically, coverage is written under a dwelling form due to:

  • Building age
  • Number of residential units contained in a building (most homeowners programs bar coverage for buildings with more than four residential units)
  • Low building value

There are other reasons for writing a dwelling policy. Some residential property may be obsolete. Such may be the case for a very old, well-maintained home that has a high market value. However, the home's structural features (ornate scrollwork; custom, old fashioned flooring; old, non-standard cabinetry; stairwells; etc.) may make it impractical to cover under a replacement cost, homeowners contract. Losses under dwelling fire policies are usually paid on either an actual cash value or a repair cost basis. The former is used for total losses and the latter for partial losses (except when the cost to make repairs exceeds the damage property's actual cash value).

Another reason for selecting dwelling policy coverage may involve a building's occupancy. Dwelling fire coverage is often selected for rental or non-owner occupancy (as an example, a homeowner who, for free, has arranged for a friend to use his home for an extended period). Other situations that may call for use of dwelling fire coverage are lack of full-time occupancy (secondary or seasonal homes) and type of property (mobile homes and minimal value manufactured homes). Another very common situation that is handled by dwelling fire coverage is residences that are under construction.

The earliest version of the Dwelling Fire Policy protected dwellings and personal property against loss from a handful of perils (typically fire, explosion, smoke, vandalism and wind). Protection is now much broader, rivaling the coverage available under Homeowner Program forms. Dwelling Fire coverage can be written under a Basic, Broad or Special Coverage form, protecting dwellings, other structures (sheds, unattached garages, barns, pagodas, greenhouses, etc.) and/or personal property. The historical difference between homeowners and dwelling fire policies was that the latter only included property coverage. However, for a number of years, insurers have offered the option of adding premises liability protection and medical payments coverage for minor injuries to third parties.

In any case, the dwelling fire program is quite viable due to its availability to handle classes of property that aren’t accepted under most insurers' homeowners programs. If you have property that may need consideration for dwelling fire coverage, discuss the need with an insurance professional.


COPYRIGHT: Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc. 2016

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What A Total “Meth” – Part 1


Insurance is a great fit for homeowners. It also works wonderfully for those who own condos, mobile homes and for those who choose to rent. Insurance works because most policies are designed to handle many sources of accidental loss. More specifically, to handle losses related to regular, residential use. In some instances, insurance doesn’t work at all; such as when a residence is used for a business. It truly doesn’t work when a home is used for an illegal business and there is one such use that is growing at near-epidemic proportions….Meth houses!

No matter the coast, no matter the location; meth homes are a problem. Meth is a popular, highly addictive drug that is also, unfortunately, very profitable. The lure of recreational drugs and big money is resulting in the explosive use of homes as meth labs. Police report that they find meth labs in cities, rural areas, and in suburbs. No matter where they are found; making illegal drugs is a crime and insurance doesn’t provide protection.

This is still a problem for property owners and the insurance industry because these are the parties that are burdened with handling the aftermath. The process of making meth involves the use of materials that are toxic and highly flammable. Many explosions occur while making this drug. Even when done without mishap, the process creates toxic contamination for the living space used as a lab. Occupants of such homes suffer serious illness.

A meth home is considered a localized, environmental hazard. The owners of such properties are required to safely and thoroughly remove meth-related contaminants. The process has to be handled by specialists, it usually takes several treatments and the cost can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. Further, testing and re-testing must be performed to assure a proper job.

Frequently it is banks and property owners who have to find a way to deal with the illegal activity of criminal homeowners and tenants who, having escaped or are imprisoned; don’t care about their meth mess.

See part two of this article on more information on the consequences of meth activity.


COPYRIGHT: Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc.2017

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What A Total “Meth” – Part 2


See part one of this article.

Meth homes are often abandoned and condemned, creating a problem for their respective neighborhoods, including pushing down its market values. They also continue as a magnet for illegal activity and/or can become an attractive nuisance, creating increased chances for injury to local children. They also can create an increase in exposure to thefts.

Meth homes also create a major problem for persons who, unknowingly, buy them. Most states have no laws that require prior meth use to be reported to prospective buyers. Stopping meth manufacturing does not end a problem. Making meth creates fumes and residue that permeates a home’s walls, ceilings, flooring, etc. Furniture is similarly contaminated. Regular cleaning efforts are inadequate in eliminating meth component contamination. Expert remediation is needed to remove the dangers caused by contamination from chemicals such as ether, paint thinner, different acids, even anhydrous ammonia. Without remediation, persons can be seriously sickened while occupying such homes. Problems that could develop include skin rashes, nausea, headaches, serious air passage irritation/burns, and serious lung damage. Prolonged occupation in contaminated homes could even cause death.

Due to the presence of invasive, dangerous chemical residue, proper property cleaning must be done by persons with the correct, special equipment and expertise. Areas used to make meth can be restored, but it involves many steps such as hauling and disposing of contaminated furnishings, cleaning of all surfaces. Interior spaces often have to undergo prolonged exposure to high temperatures (90 degrees of more) for several days. Extensive cleaning may involve partial dismantling and cleaning electrical wiring, plumbing, heating and ventilation systems. Special vacuums may be necessary. Expert testing and monitoring is also necessary. The entire process may easily cost upwards of tens of thousands of dollars.

Often, innocent parties turn to their insurance companies for help, but meth activity is NOT an insurable matter. Unfortunately, desperate for help, property owners frequently sue their insurers, trying to find any viable angle to secure coverage…..and this creates a losing proposition…..for everyone.

If you’re a prospective homebuyer, specifically ask about the prior use of a home and get the seller to document that it was not used as a meth lab. If you are a landlord, be careful who you rent your property to and make sure that you monitor your property’s use. If you have to deal with a meth mess; be sure to contact services with the expertise to clean the mess up right.


COPYRIGHT: Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc.2017

All rights reserved. Production or distribution, whether in whole or in part, in any form of media or language; and no matter what country, state or territory, is expressly forbidden without written consent of Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc.


Wondering About Wind


Wind is the weather engine of the world. As is the case with other elements of nature, man’s relationship with it can be perilous. Storms always bring the threat of injury and damage to property. For persons in the path of storms, the more information they receive, the better. We make increasing use of technology to improve how far in advance we can predict and track storms. Recently there have been advancements in assessing the level of threat presented by winter storms.

Circulating and straight-line winds can create major problems on their own. However, it is in combination with other elements where they are even more dangerous. In cold weather, cities and towns are often crippled by snow and ice activity. Having more accurate information may allow better planning and more effective warnings can save money and, more importantly, lives.

Measurement systems have been in place for many years. The Enhanced Fujita Scale measures the power of tornadoes. The Saffir-Simpson Scale classifies hurricanes. A newer measurement, called the Sperry-Piltz Ice Accumulation Index, assesses the threat to overhead utilities presented by ice.
Similar to the Fujita and Saffir scales, the Sperry-Piltz scale classifies winter storm systems on an ascending, five point scale that describes the threat of different levels of snow and ice accumulation. A given storm system is assigned different categories. Winter storm systems are often huge and different parts (such as the storm core and outer edges) present different threat levels.

The Sperry-Piltz scale can assist with predicting the threat of power line damage, related power outages and road danger due to levels of snow and ice. The information can help authorities in making decisions on deploying emergency and repair resources to deal with storm activity. It can also facilitate decisions on travel advisories. With storms, the ability to prepare is increasingly important and the Sperry-Piltz Scale is a welcome and needed tool.


COPYRIGHT: Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc. 2017

All rights reserved. Production or distribution, whether in whole or in part, in any form of media or language; and no matter what country, state or territory, is expressly forbidden without written consent of Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc.


Need Flood Insurance?


Do you need flood insurance? Well, walk to the nearest mirror and ask the person you see if he or she owns much property that could be damaged or destroyed by water. If the answer is yes, then you should seriously consider buying flood insurance. Most persons who need the protection buy coverage offered by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). If your community doesn't participate in the program, you'll have to look into coverage from private insurance companies.

Is A Flood Loss Likely?

The chances of your business, home or personal property being damaged by a flood depends primarily upon where you live. They also depend on other factors such as:

  • how much of a flood warning you receive
  • the level of flood precautions you take (such as moving personal property from lower levels to higher levels), and
  • the precautions taken by your community (such as the use of flood controls in construction standards or sandbagging threatened areas).

Floods are related to weather conditions and tend to affect very wide areas. This often makes chances of a flood loss higher than a loss from fires or windstorms. Many people have the obsolete belief that flood insurance is only needed if you live in a flood prone area.

I Live In A Flood Zone?!

If you hear the term "flood zone," you may think that it refers to locations that are particularly vulnerable to flooding. Wherever you live in the USA, you live in a flood zone. While your area may have a lower chance of flooding than a coastal area or a location situated near a body of water, your area could still experience flooding. A very dry part of the country can be susceptible to flash floods; hilly locations may be harmed by drainage; snowy locations may suffer from heavy snow thaw; other areas may suffer deluges or flooding due to a heavy rain season which has soaked the surrounding soil. So, if you've insured yourself against fire, wind and other causes of loss, it certainly makes sense to also protect yourself from the potential of a flood loss.

Why Worry When Disaster Coverage Is Available?

Are you thinking that, after a flood, your loss may be handled by the government declaring a disaster area? However, you're still taking a couple of large risks. First, your flooded locale may not be deemed a disaster area. Second, being designated as a disaster area is not a bargain. Disaster area status only gives citizens access to government disaster loans. IF you qualify for assistance, you have replaced insurance protection with an obligation to pay off a large, long-term loan. Is it worthwhile to gamble on an opportunity to pick up more debt? You'll find flood insurance to be a cheaper and much more valuable alternative.

Don't Be "All Wet"

You don't have to leave yourself unprotected. Your agent, an insurance professional, can help you with detailed information on the National Flood Insurance Program. You can also ask for help in getting the coverage you need in the face of a flood.


COPYRIGHT: Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc. 2017

All rights reserved. Production or distribution, whether in whole or in part, in any form of media or language; and no matter what country, state or territory, is expressly forbidden without written consent of Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc.


Saving Water Damaged Property – Part 1


Salvage experts, property specialists and government agencies advise that quick action is critical when dealing with water-damaged property. Many types of personal property can be saved within 48 hours of being exposed to water.
Before trying to save property, make sure that YOU are safe. Flooded buildings can be hazardous. Make sure that there is no danger of electrocution by turning off power and avoiding fallen utility lines. Do not come in contact with water containing sewage and make sure the floor, ceiling and wall supports pose no danger.

Once determined that the loss site is safe, it’s important to quickly contact the insurer. The insurance company should make it a priority to respond. It is important to get to a site to make an assessment of the damaged property and what items can be salvaged.
It is common that assessment is immediately followed or even accompanied by the work of restoration specialists who also are equipped to mitigate damage.

Be Practical and Prioritize

Often it is impractical or impossible to try to save everything, so prioritize. Make time spent on assessing damaged property will be more efficient by:

  • Work on property that is MOST important to you and that is most vulnerable to permanent damage.
  • Separate porous and non-porous property
  • Separate high value and low value property
  • Inventory and document property thoroughly and carefully
  • Take many photographs at different angles
  • Avoid throwing away any property until insurance company can inspect
  • One practical consideration is to forget about fully upholstered furniture and mattresses. Such property is usually impossible to properly dry and is often contaminated.

COPYRIGHT: Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc. 2017

All rights reserved. Production or distribution, whether in whole or in part, in any form of media or language; and no matter what country, state or territory, is expressly forbidden without written consent of Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc.


Saving Water Damaged Property – Part 2


Since quick action is imperative, the following are valuable tips on handling water damaged property.

Baskets–Rinse, drain and blot to remove excess water, stuff with clean paper towels or cotton sheets to retain shape and absorb stains, cover with clean towels and air dry slowly, regularly changing blotting material.

Books–If rinsing is necessary, hold book closed. If partially wet or damp, stand on top or bottom edge with covers opened to 90° angle; air dry. If very wet, lay flat on clean surface; interleave less than 20% of book with absorbent material; replace interleaving when damp.

CDs, DVDs–Remove from cases and bathe in clean distilled water, dry with lint-free towels and insert into new casing and copy.

Clothing/Fabrics–Brush off all loose, dried dirt. Rinse thoroughly in cold water as soon as possible until as much mud as possible is removed. Repeat if necessary. Do not use hot water as it sets stains from red or yellow clay. Machine wash when no more dirt can be rinsed out.

Leather (including shoes) and Rawhide–Rinse/sponge with clear water to remove mud, drain and blot to remove excess water, pad with toweling or unlinked paper to maintain shape, air dry. Manipulate tanned fur skins during drying to keep skins flexible.

Metal–Use gloves to handle, rinse/sponge and blot metal object, air dry. If object has applied finish, do not clean. Air dry; keep flaking surfaces horizontal.

Paintings–Remove from frames in a safe, dry place. Do NOT separate paintings from their stretchers. Keep paintings horizontal and paint-side up with nothing touching the surface. Avoid direct sunlight.

Paper–Air dry flat as individual sheets or in ¼" or smaller piles, with absorbent paper placed between each wet sheet (interleaving). Do not unfold or separate individual, wet sheets. Keep coated papers wet by packing in boxes lined with plastic garbage bags; freeze (maps or manuscripts), sponge water out; pack loose flat sheets in flat boxes or plywood covered with plastic sheets. If there are too many items for air drying, interleave (by groups or individually) with freezer or waxed paper; pack papers or files, standing up in sturdy containers; pack containers only 90% full and freeze.

Photographs–Remove from plastic/paper enclosures or frames; carefully rinse with cool, clean water; DO NOT touch or blot surfaces. Air dry, hang with clips on non-image areas, or lay flat on absorbent paper. Keep photographs from contact with adjacent surfaces or each other.

Rugs–To assist with drying and later, cleaning, it is helpful to squeeze out and vacuum as much moisture as possible. It is important to avoid contamination and development of mold. A great method for handling rugs is elevating property to facilitate draining and applying fans.

Upholstered Furniture–If antique or VERY valuable, get professional estimate on cleaning/restoring.

Wood Furniture–Rinse/sponge surfaces gently to clean, blot, and air dry slowly. If any painted surfaces are blistered or flaking, air dry slowly without removing dirt or moisture. Weigh down or clamp veneers in place while drying; separate weight from veneer with protective layer. (Finishes may develop white haze; treat later with wood cleaning product.)


COPYRIGHT: Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc. 2017

All rights reserved. Production or distribution, whether in whole or in part, in any form of media or language; and no matter what country, state or territory, is expressly forbidden without written consent of Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc.


“Residence” Matters - Part 1


Homeowner (HO) insurance coverage, which protects against damage to household property and provides liability protection, is quite standardized. In other words, different insurance companies offer HO coverage in, essentially, the same manner.

A key issue for coverage is that the policyholder must live at the residence premises. Such premises are commonly defined in policies. Wording used in many HO forms define the residence premises as the dwelling “where you reside.” These three words create substantial consequences.

There are several instances where a named insured’s living arrangement may result in a loss of HO protection. Consider the following:

·         A home with a person residing there as the result of a trust agreement

·         A home’s owners are permanently residing at an assisted living facility and their children live in the home.

·         A home is sold; the owners move to their new home, but permit the buyers to live in the previous resident until the closing.

In such situations, the named insured does not live at the location described in the policy. While some insurance companies treat these instances as a matter of whether the homes are still desirable to cover, other companies have denied claims. The basis for denial is that, at the time of loss, the named insured was not a dwelling resident.

It is important that agents be aware of changes in living circumstances and that policyholders report these changes promptly. Coverage gaps may be handled in various ways such as the use of a trust endorsement, voluntary acceptance of the living arrangement by an insurer to maintain coverage or replacing an HO with a dwelling fire policy. However, a basic dwelling policy lacks liability protection, so it would have to be arranged separately.

Please see part two of this article for information on coverage developments.


COPYRIGHT: Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc. 2017

All rights reserved. Production or distribution, whether in whole or in part, in any form of media or language; and no matter what country, state or territory, is expressly forbidden without written consent of Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc.


 “Residence” Matters - Part 2


Part 1 of this article discussed the issue of a homeowner policy providing protection based on the home’s owner being residents of the home when a loss occurs. Typical (aka standard) homeowner policy language is, in certain circumstances, undergoing change that is important for insurance consumers understand.

As mentioned in part one, coverage for losses depend upon “residence,” a term that often has a special definition. A common definition used by many homeowner insurance companies is a requirement that the policyholder be actively residing in the home. However, there has been confusion over WHEN such residency is required.

Over the years, many losses have been denied due to homeowner residency, creating litigation. Courts have not been consistent in clarifying things. Insurers, on their part, have been seeking stronger, clearer policy language. In response, policy language has been introduced in the hope of creating better understanding of how HO coverage applies with regard to residency as well as to offer options to deal with different residency situations.

Insurance language is now being added to policies that define residency to mean that, at the time of a loss, the policyholder must have been living in their home at the inception (beginning) of a policy term. A real problem occurs if, for some reason, at the policy period’s start, the policyholder was not in the home (say the home was under construction or the home was just closed on in a sale and the new owners have yet to move in).

However, insurance companies are also beginning the use of options that can be added which changes the residency definition in different ways. For instance, one option changes the requirement to the policyholder residing in the home at the time of the loss. Another option allows reference to a specific time period to define residence. That option would allow a policyholder to share residency situations with an insurer in order that both a

Amboy - Main Office

111 S. Main St.

P.O. Box 157 Amboy, IN 46911

Main office: 765-395-7761
Toll free: 877-395-6200
Fax: 765-395-7763

Office Hours:

Mon: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Tues: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Wed: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Thurs: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Fri: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Sat: By Appointment
Sun: Closed

Bunker Hill Office

132 East Broadway

P.O. Box 356 Bunker Hill, IN 46914

Main office: 765-689-8432
Toll free: 800-688-8432
Fax: 765-689-0725

Office Hours:

Mon: 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Tues: 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Wed: 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Thurs: 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Fri: 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Sat: By Appointment
Sun: Closed

Converse Office

105 South Jefferson Street

P.O. Box 620 Converse, IN 46919

Main office: 765-395-7811
Fax: 765-395-6216

Office Hours:

Mon: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Tues: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Wed: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Thurs: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Fri: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Sat: By Appointment
Sun: Closed

Fairmount Office

210 South Main Street

P.O. Box 67 Fairmount, IN 46928

Main office: 765-948-4129
Fax: 765-948-4120

Office Hours:

Mon: 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Tues: 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Wed: 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Thurs: 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Fri: 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Sat: By Appointment
Sun: Closed

Flora Office

15 East Columbia Street

Flora, IN 46929

Main office: 574-967-3110
Toll free: 800-242-0466
Fax: 574-967-3569

Office Hours:

Mon: 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Tues: 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Wed: 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Thurs: 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Fri: 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Sat: By Appointment
Sun: Closed

Greentown Office

109 North Meridian Street

Greentown, IN 46936

Main office: 765-628-7572
Fax: 765-507-9144

Office Hours:

Mon: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Tues: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Wed: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Thurs: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Fri: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Sat: By Appointment
Sun: Closed

Hartford City Office

209 West Washington Street

Hartford City, IN 47348

Main office: 765-348-1448
Fax: 765-348-1512

Office Hours:

Mon: 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Tues: 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Wed: 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Thurs: 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Fri: 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Sat: By Appointment
Sun: Closed

Kokomo Office

3833 South LaFountain Street

P.O. Box 6339 Kokomo, IN 46904

Main office: 765-455-2700
Fax: 765-453-5635

Office Hours:

Mon: 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Tues: 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Wed: 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Thurs: 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Fri: 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Sat: By Appointment
Sun: Closed

Lafayette Office

3904 Regal Valley Dr

Lafayette, IN 47909

Main office: 765-838-8244
Toll free: 877-395-6200
Fax: 765-838-8244

Office Hours:

Mon: By Appointment
Tues: By Appointment
Wed: By Appointment
Thurs: By Appointment
Fri: By Appointment
Sat: By Appointment
Sun: By Appointment

Marion Office

153 East 3rd Street

Marion, IN 46952

Main office: 765-662-2010
Toll free: 800-688-3548
Fax: 765-662-2072

Office Hours:

Mon: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Tues: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Wed: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Thurs: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Fri: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Sat: By Appointment
Sun: Closed

Peru Office

26 West Main Street

Peru, IN 46970

Main office: 765-473-4519
Fax: 765-473-4510

Office Hours:

Mon: 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Tues: 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Wed: 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Thurs: 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Fri: 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Sat: By Appointment
Sun: Closed

Somerset Office

1 Main Street

P.O. Box 176 Somerset, IN 46984

Main office: 765-981-4944
Fax: 765-981-4116

Office Hours:

Mon: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Tues: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Wed: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Thurs: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Fri: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Sat: By Appointment
Sun: Closed

Swayzee Office

106 South Washington Street

P.O. Box 130 Swayzee, IN 46986

Main office: 765-922-4449
Fax: 765-922-4449

Office Hours:

Mon: 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM
Tues: 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM
Wed: 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM
Thurs: 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM
Fri: 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM
Sat: By Appointment
Sun: Closed

Upland Office

50 East Berry Avenue

P.O. Box 537 Upland, IN 46989

Main office: 765-998-6053
Fax: 765-998-7083

Office Hours:

Mon: 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM
Tues: 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM
Wed: 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM
Thurs: 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM
Fri: 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM
Sat: By Appointment
Sun: Closed

Walton Office

112 North Depot Street

Walton, IN 46994

Main office: 574-626-2621
Fax: 574-626-2609

Office Hours:

Mon: 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM
Tues: 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM
Wed: 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM
Thurs: 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM
Fri: 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM
Sat: By Appointment
Sun: Closed

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Testimonials

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