Hurricane Preparation: Take 2

Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf of Mexico near i...

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Hurricane Earl was not as bad for New England as weather experts anticipated. Where I was, there were 2-3 inches of rain and some light wind gusts; no apocalyptic storm was this. But that’s ok; it served as practice for the peak of Hurricane Season, which we have just begun to experience.   

I had gone to the grocery store and bought three cases of bottled water in anticipation of Earl; as frustrating as it was to waste time and money on preparations such as these, it was and is a good idea to prepare before any major storm. There is no time like the present to make a survival kit, draw up an evacuation plan, or check your insurance coverage. All these things become exponentially more difficult to accomplish when an actual hurricane is approaching.  

One of the most helpful things you can do insurance-wise is to take pictures/video of your house. Should a devastating storm occur along with damage, having photographic evidence of what exactly was damaged will facilitate your interaction with your insurance provider.   

One of the greatest tragedies of Hurricane Katrina was the amount of displaced animals after the disaster occurred. Before any sort of storm is forecast, make sure you have up-to-date pictures and paperwork of your pets, as well as immunization records. Should the need arise to keep a pet at a shelter or clinic following evacuation, it is vital to have all this paperwork and identification information at hand. Appropriately sized pet-carriers should also be purchased before hurricane season in case of evacuation (pet carriers should have enough room for pets to stand and turn around in). After a large storm, pets should be walked on leashes to become re-acclimated to their new environments. Avoid large pools of water, as downed power lands and displaced reptiles could pose a threat to household pets.   

After a storm is forecast, make sure automobiles have full tanks of gas. If evacuated, traffic and congestion will arise. Running out of fuel while waiting in traffic on the highway would only compound the danger of a hurricane or severe storm.
Lastly, KNOW YOUR INSURANCE COVERAGE. Most flood damage is not covered by homeowners policies.    

For more relevant insurance resources to save you time and money, visit the Andrew G. Gordon, Inc. website.    

Water, Water, Everywhere.

Water damage due to faulty rainwater downpipe

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Homeowner claims resulting from water damage are on the rise (no pun intended). Bob Passmore of the Property Casualty Insurance Association of America reports that “out of every $100 paid in insurance claims, $12 goes to water damage and freezing claims, not including water damage from flooding rivers and seas.   Flooding from ground water is not covered unless you have a flood insurance policy.  

Water damage, other than floods, is covered if the cause is sudden and accidental. A loose drain pipe from the bathtub that slowly leaks for months and buckles the bathroom floor is not covered.  However, the damage caused by a pipe that suddenly bursts is covered. The plumber’s repair to replace the pipe is not covered but the resulting damage is.  

There are measures you can take to prevent and lessen the amount ofwater damage and their resulting claims. Here are some that come to mind:  

  • Ice dams are caused by the melting ice in your gutter that backs up under your roof shingles, causing water damage to your ceilings, windows and walls. Use an ice dam rake on your roof when snow accumulates.
  • Have a licensed plumber periodically check your plumbing pipes.
  • Replace your washing machine and dishwasher hoses with ‘no-burst’ hoses. Unlike rubber hoses that can burst over time, these are made of a metal sheath that protects against bursting.
  • Periodically check around and under your hot water heater for any signs of leakage – a small drip from the tank can turn into a ruptured tank in no time at all!
  • Never run your dishwasher or washing machine when not at home (easier said than done, I know).
  • Check your toilets and under your sinks for any signs of water leakage.
  • At the first sign of freezing weather, turn off your outside water spigots (from the inside of the house) then drain from the outside. Newer spigots are designed to prevent freezing do not have to be shut off from the inside during the winter months. These can be replaced by a licensed plumber.
  • Check your ice-maker and its water line for any signs of leakage.
  • When on vacation, especially in the winter, have someone check your home daily.
  • Water alarm sensors are available to detect the presence of water in your basement
  • A temperature monitoring device plugs into your phone outlet and can alert you via cell phone that the temperature has dropped to the danger point of freezing. Use such a device when vacationing in the winter.
  • Newer gas furnaces operate with an electronic pilot. Older models have a gas flame pilot that can blow out from a draft. No heat means freezing pipes! Before going away on vacation, familiarize which type of pilot you have. If the former, this is another good reason to have someone check your home daily or have a temperature monitoring device!

Please watch for our future blog, “How to minimize further damage if you sustain water damage to your home “.  

And for more relevant insurance information, and resources to save you time and money, visit the A. G. Gordon, Inc. Website.  

Linseed Oil is Hot Stuff

Linseed oil

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Ever wonder about horror movie special effects where an object suddenly bursts into flames without any likely cause? Look around the movie set and there is no electrical short, match, flame or spark to set the object ablaze.  You may have witnessed a phenomenon called  spontaneous combustion.   

One of our insurance agency customers learned about this phenomenon firsthand  after cleaning her antique pumpkin pine floors with linseed oil. She placed the rags in her washing machine. The insured walked away for only a few minutes before turning on the machine when suddenly the rags combusted and began melting the inside drum of the washer. The fire department responded within minutes and the homeowner only incurred very minor smoke damage to her million dollar home.  

There was a very happy ending to this story but it brings an awareness to the dangers of linseed oil and other oils used to finish wood. Heat  is generated during the drying process for these oils. This is because the oils do not dry like paint through the evaporation of a solvent or water. Linseed and other oils dry through the same process that generates fire- oxidation. There must be enough heat in order for spontaneous combustion to occur. That’s why you won’t see a recently finished table spontaneously combust from linseed oil treatment because the chair is open to the air.  

  

Linseed oil soaked rags pose the biggest risk for spontaneous combustion. The rags act as an insulator as the oil oxidizes. This allows the oxidizing oil to become hot enough to cause the rags to smoke and eventually ignite.  Also,  the bigger the pile of rags then the greater the risk of sudden combustion. Room temperature is also a factor.  Rags reach ignition temperature quicker in warmer rooms.  

Have no fear home improvement enthusiasts- there is a way to safely dispose of rags soaked with linseed or other oils to finish wood. These cloths should either be burned immediately following use or stored in a metal container filled with water and a metal lid to be disposed as hazardous waste.  

For more topical, relevant insurance information, risk management resources, or to get a quote from us, visit our website.  

   

Kasey McCarthy, CPCU  

A. G. Gordon, Inc.  

Home Project Snowballs

A true story from the life of an agent on staff:

We were looking forward to replacing our exterior door and because it seemed manageable, planned on doing it ourselves.  In retrospect, it was probably a mistake.  My husband removed the door frame including the threshold and we found what we believe are termites and carpenter ants along with the damaged sill and other areas.  At least it seems to be isolated to that small area.   He tore out the affected areas and sprayed with the old toxic chemicals that were on hand.  We made multiple trips to Lowe’s and Home Depot to pick up supplies and more spray to treat the affected areas.  We’re not done yet and as it turns out, we’re replacing the deck now instead of next year so that he has easier access to replace the damaged area.  Unfortunately, our homeowners policy won’t step in either, as there are exclusions for insect damage, wear and tear, deterioration, and other damages that happen over time. 

If you’re more inclined to hire a carpenter than try this kind of project yourself, be sure to ask for a certificate of insurance, showing they have liability and workers compensation insurance.     This should be a minimum “legitimacy” level for any contractor, and is one good way to separate the pros from the amateurs!  For a project like ours, we should have found a pro!

Keep in mind that insect damage is not usually covered under a Homeowners policy:
“Additional Exclusions”. We do not cover, with respect to any property, any loss resulting from, caused by, contributed
to, or aggravated by any of the following:

  1. Wear and tear, marring, or deterioration;
  2. Inherent vice, latent defect, or mechanical breakdown;
  3. Rust or other corrosion, mold, or wet or dry rot;
  4. Contamination, smog, or smoke from agricultural or industrial operations, including smudging;
  5. Settling, shrinking, bulging, or expansion, including resultant cracking, of pavements, patios, foundations, walls, floors, roofs, ceilings, fences, swimming pools, retaining walls, or bulkheads, whether resulting from growth of vegetation or otherwise;
  6. Birds, vermin, animals, rodents, or insects, except that this exclusion does not apply to collapse under Coverages A and B, under which we do not cover loss involving collapse resulting from detectable decay or detectable damage by birds, vermin, animals, rodents, or insects, and that any ensuing loss resulting directly from a Peril Insured Against to property described in Coverages A and B is covered.

 

For more insurance information, as well as topical and relevant resources. Visit our website or recieve an online quote.

Simple Stuff, Insurance, and Other Things that are not Synonymous

A brief introduction; my name is Corbin, and I’ve been a social media engineer for Andrew G. Gordon, Inc. for the past 2 months. I’m about to enter my senior year of high school, and insurance is not an entity I’ve had any sort of contact with prior to this job. However, seeing as a succinct job summary of my position would be “gracing the internet with insurance information”, I’ve been exposed to a veritable hailstorm of news, literature, and media all relating to insurance. Poor metaphors aside, I have been able to catch a glimpse into the insurance world, and I’ve managed to cement a few rational impressions about insurance that I might as well share with the internet.

Impression the First:

INSURANCE IS COMPLICATED. Why did I exert the energy to depress the caps-lock key (twice!) in the previous sentence? Because it’s super important. Perhaps there was once a day when cavemen and wooly mammoths nonchalantly shot the breeze about easy to understand coverage and liability policies, but that age is now far in the past. The fact is that insurance is a very complicated entity to deal with, and it has to be, considering the services it must provide. So before you embark on an insurance venture, find good insurance information (trust me, it’s out there) and arm yourself. With some research, you will be an insurance wizard in no time. On an unrelated note, if you are at the point where you are searching for insurance information and stumbled upon this blog, I would like to extend to you the chance to view our website’s “whiteboard talks”. These are educational videos about insurance created for the benefit of humankind, and you can click here to take advantage of them.

Impression the Second:

The insurance industry is not an evil machine out to harm you. Despite this common misconception, every experience I’ve had working at A.G. Gordon, Inc. suggests to me that insurance companies make every effort to make the customer experience a good one. I’ve seen many examples of healthy insurance relationships, business and personal. Despite the generally formidable “street rep” of insurance companies, if you find a good agency, both insurer and policy-holder will be playing for the same team.

Impression the Third:

Understand your coverage. While this is loosely tied to impression the first, I feel it holds enough significance to earn its own paragraph. As I post blogs and summarize articles about insurance, I notice that there are fairly common issues that most people aren’t aware of. Did you know that if a dwelling in MA is left unoccupied for 60 days, the building is considered vacant and fire coverage is cancelled? I didn’t, which isn’t shocking, but neither did my parents, and we’ve moved over 10 times in the course of my childhood, often leaving vacant homes in our wake. How about that rust or other corrosion, mold, or wet or dry rot damage is not usually covered in homeowner’s policies? By taking time to do some policy research, you could save yourself some headaches down the road. And if you are currently a homeowner, I would advise you look at our homeowner’s checklist, a goldmine of good information.

And for topical and relevant insurance information and risk-management solutions, visit us at our website.