Displaying items by tag: homeowners insurance

Winter Safety Tips for Pets and Home - Schaefer & Delauder Insurance, We all know to dress to stay warm before venturing out on a winter day, but there are a few topics worthy of a reminder since they are not often top of mind as we go through each day.  Our pets depend on us to keep them safe in the cold. Likewise, two winter-related home risks that need our attention are pipe-freezing and home fires caused by space heaters.  We have gathered advice and tips from the experts to help you have a safe and comfortable winter for yourself and your pets.

Bring your pets in from the cold

Some pets are more tolerant of extremely cold temperatures than others, but that does not mean that they are not just as vulnerable to the harmful effects.  It’s up to you as the pet owner to protect them.  Many pets — especially dogs — aren’t aware of just how cold the weather can be. You’ll have to be sensitive to their limits, and you may have to wrap your pet in a coat or boots to go outside. The ASPCA offers the following advice to help keep your pets safe as temperatures plummet.

  • Just as leaving your pet in your car when it’s hot can be deadly, so can leaving them in your car when it’s cold.  The car traps the cold air and acts like a refrigerator, causing the animal to freeze.
  • Keep your pets safely indoors during extremely cold weather that can cause them to be disoriented or actually freeze.  How to know when it’s too cold for your pet to be outside:  If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your pet.
  • Protect your pet from drafts and give them a warm place to sleep that is off the floor such as a dog or cat bed.  Adding a warm blanket or pillow will help as well. 
  • Because your pets burn extra energy to stay warm when it’s cold, they’ll require extra food for the calories they’ll need. Likewise, extra water for extra hydration will help prevent dry skin

Keep pipes from freezing

When temperatures reach freezing, it is especially important to protect the water pipes in your home so that they do not freeze and potentially burst.  If your pipes are on an outside wall or above an unheated space, such as a garage, the best precaution, especially if you lose heat or power, is to run water at a trickle in sinks and bathtubs. This keeps the water moving through your pipes and makes it more difficult to freeze. 

See this article from the American Red Cross for much more about preventing and thawing frozen pipes.

Take great care when using space heaters

According to a National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) study, space heaters, whether portable or stationary, accounted for 2 of every 5 home heating fires and 4 out of 5 home heating fire deaths.  Placing flammable items too close to the heater was most frequently the cause of the fire.

The folks at Energy.gov offer the following advice for buying and installing small space heaters.

  • Purchase only a newer model heater equipped with current safety features and carrying the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) label.
  • To avoid wasting energy by overheating a room, select a heater that is appropriately sized for the space to be heated; and be sure that it is thermostatically-controlled.
  • Be sure that your space heater is placed away from foot traffic, out of the reach of pets and children.  Be sure that the heater sits level so that it will not tip over. 

Homeowners Insurance Tip

The winter months are the worst for home fires. You’ll want to be sure that your homeowners insurance policy offers you the best coverage for your circumstances.  Spend some time inspecting your home to be sure that your heating system, fireplace and space heaters are installed and maintained properly well before you have the need to ever file a homeowners insurance claim.  Speak with your insurance agent for advice and to discuss your coverage options.

Feel free to contact any of our very capable and experienced agents at Schaefer & Delauder Insurance either in Germantown or Frederick, MD to discuss any  home insurance-related questions.  We can help you review your current insurance policy and explore your options to be sure you have the best coverage and protection according to your circumstances.

Friday, 04 January 2019 11:16

Cyber Monday offers special vulnerability for identity theft and cyber crime warns Schaefer & Delauder Insurance - Germantown and Frederick MDChances are that you, like many other shoppers, are making your holiday purchases online.  Retailers have noticed an increasing trend in online shopping over the past few years, and this is not likely to change.

As shoppers grow weary of braving the cold and standing in long lines to buy this year’s hot products, those who are computer savvy are increasingly opting for the convenience and great deals that they find online.

The result is the rise of Cyber Monday. Even those who venture into the mall on Black Friday or small business Saturday welcome the following Monday as a time to log on to the internet and see what sales are taking place to finish or perhaps start their shopping.

Unfortunately, cyber criminals know this and are finding that targeting victims online is not only easier but does not pose as much risk as capturing shoppers’ ID information and scamming them at the mall or on the phone. 

What’s at Risk on Cyber Monday?

In fact, the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) cautions that shoppers will likely face a variety of risks during this holiday season, such as the following.

  • Falling prey to online deals even though they seem “too good to be true”.
  • Paying for purchases with debit cards instead of credit cards, thus putting not only their credit card accounts at risk but their bank accounts as well. 
  • Not choosing secure online networks and instead being vulnerable to identity theft by using public Wi-Fi networks to make purchases online.

Take Necessary Precautions to Avoid Identity Theft

While Cyber Monday is indeed a favorite holiday for hackers, identity thieves, scammers and other cyber criminals, there are some steps you can take to secure your identity and still enjoy the ease of shopping online.

Know your antivirus software – Antivirus software is much more effective today than in years past at blocking malicious threats to online shoppers. Sadly, cybercriminals have kept pace, finding new tools to steal your identity, your confidential information and more. So, while cyber thieves now use ransomware, trojans, worms, phishing scams, keyloggers and so much more, online shoppers can now be protected by using security tools for their devices such as VPNs, tracking blockers, parental control apps to protect them when browsing privately online.  However, no security tool will protect you unless it is used properly. Be sure that your security software is properly installed and configured before shopping begins, and see that it is updated regularly to remain effective.

Keep track of your payment method – If there is suspicious activity on your account after you have purchases, you must be able to trace it back to the website where your purchase was made.  Your payment methods could include Pay Pal or some other online payment platform, debit cards, credit cards, or perhaps even gift cards, it’s important to document the method you used for each purchase and note which website was used.  In fact, it is likely best to designate one credit card for online shopping and use it exclusively to avoid confusion.

Look before you click – Once you find a website from which you wish to purchase, take time to check the site’s URL to be sure it begins with HTTPS and not just HTTP. A site using HTTPS uses a secure network and will better protect your data. Even so, before you enter any personal information or payment details, make sure you are dealing with a reputable company and not a fake website or copycat website built to look like a real retailer’s site but ready to steal your data. A quick Google search for the name of the company or the URL of the website should let you know if there are negative reports available, and a look at the Better Business Bureau can show posts by dissatisfied customers.

Home Insurance Tip

Even with your best efforts, you might still fall victim to cyber crime and possibly to identity theft.  So before you begin your online shopping, it is wise to check with your insurance agent to discuss Identity Recovery insurance which can often be added to your Homeowners insurance or Renters insurance. Find out what coverages and services are available to you and see how affordable this protection can be.

Feel free to contact any of our very capable and experienced agents at Schaefer & Delauder Insurance either in Germantown or Frederick, MD to discuss your home insurance questions.  We can help you review your current insurance policy and explore your options to be sure you have the best coverage and protection according to your circumstances.

Monday, 12 November 2018 09:45

Winterizing your house to be ready for winter plus homeowners insurance - Schaefer & Delauder Insurance - Germantown and Frederick MDAs a homeowners, you are probably accustomed to handling home maintenance chores mostly in the springtime.  But the potential for damage to your house from the cold temperatures and brutal weather conditions of winter call for extra maintenance effort in the autumn as well. Don’t let Mother Nature get ahead of you.  Consider the following fall home maintenance tips.

  • Examine all gutters and downspouts for damage and remove any debris such as leaves.  This will help you avoid potential water damage inside your home from melting snow and ice.
  • Arrange for your chimney to be inspected and cleaned by a professional to help you avoid chimney fires caused by the buildup of creosote on the internal chimney walls. Your chimney technician can also check for structural problems in the chimney liner that could lead to sparks and embers escaping into walls, roof or attic.
  • Check your fire extinguisher to assure that it is in good working order and fully charged   This should be a multipurpose fire extinguisher (effective for ordinary combustibles, flammable liquids and electrical fires).
  • Be sure that your heating system is cleaned and functioning well before you need it.  Check manufacturer’s instructions for replacing your furnace filter and make the change before using your heating system. Fall could be the perfect time for an annual inspection by your local HVAC technician. 
  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions to clean out any dust and lint that has built up inside your clothes dryer. Don’t overlook the area behind and under the dryer and especially the exhaust duct – all areas with the potential for a dryer fire.
  • Test your smoke detectors to assure they are functioning properly. Change the batteries if/as necessary, and replace any malfunctioning smoke detectors. 
  • To avoid frozen water pipes, insulate any pipes that pass through exterior walls and unheated areas such as the attic, garage and basement to help prevent freezing.
  • Prevent drafts around windows and door by checking the seals and repairing the caulking if necessary. 

By taking these steps before winter weather sets in, you can avoid more damage and the need for urgent repairs during the cold months.

Homeowners Insurance Tip

Did you improve your home over the spring and summer – perhaps with a new backyard pool or deck or a room addition or something else? If so, then your property value has likely increased.  Plan to have a conversation with your insurance agent to be sure that your homeowners insurance policy still offers complete coverage.

Feel free to contact any of our very capable and experienced agents at Schaefer & Delauder Insurance either in Germantown or Frederick, MD to discuss your homeowners insurance questions.  We can help you review your current insurance policy and explore your options to be sure you have the best coverage and protection according to your circumstances.

Tuesday, 09 October 2018 13:24

Valentines Day - engagement - diamond ring - personal valuables insurance from Schaefer & Delauder Insurance AgencyA marriage proposal on Valentine’s Day… Congratulations to both of you.  We hope you’ll take some time to enjoy the happy moment. It will certainly be a favorite memory for a lifetime.  But then you’ll want to remember that there are a few practical considerations now that you own that beautiful diamond ring.  We’d bet that you’re not “thinking insurance” at the moment, but we are. You’re likely not aware that the loss of valuable jewelry is one of the most common of all content-related home insurance claims, according to the Insurance Information Institute.   The III tells us that one of the most frequent of all homeowners’ content-related insurance claims is for the loss of valuable jewelry.  We know you’ll want that special new bling to be financially protected in case damage, loss or theft. 

Don’t delay.  Take these steps to insure and protect your engagement ring:

Get professional insurance advice immediately. 

Your insurance agent will tell that most rental and homeowner  insurance policies will usually provide limited coverage for jewelry and other personal items, but it is often not enough to cover the value of high-end jewelry, collectibles, etc.  You might need to buy additional insurance depending on the cost of your ring.  In fact, it is likely since the average retail value of an engagement ring is around $6000 according to a 2016 survey done by The Knot. 

You will want a copy of the receipt. 

This will not only be helpful for your own records but to provide to your insurer as a means to document the current retail cost of your ring for your insurer.  

Strongly consider getting an appraisal.

If the ring has been custom-designed or is a family heirloom or vintage piece, an appraisal record will show the value when examined by a professional.  Of course, appraisal reports are not good forever, and you’ll want to have the item re-appraised every few years. Your insurance agent can help you find your way to a reputable appraiser.

Once you have that new engagement ring properly insured and fully protected, then you and your new fiancé can enjoy sharing your news with your friends and family.  You’re off on a path of many “firsts” that will change your life as you’ve known it. 

Insurance Tip

Personal Valuables Insurance offers supplemental coverage for loss, theft and damage for many precious items. They include artwork, crystal, silverware, collectibles, cameras, firearms and more in addition to valuable jewelry. Arrange a conversation with your insurance agent who can help you decide whether you need increased insurance protection for valuable items. 

Here at Schaefer & Delauder Insurance Services in Germantown and Frederick, MD, our experienced agents welcome your questions and can assist you by reviewing your current insurance coverage and helping you to exploring your insurance options. Why not contact us at your convenience?

Friday, 02 February 2018 11:28

Happy New Year - Time to Review Your Insurance Coverage with Schaefer & Delauder InsuranceAs this year begins, it offers the perfect time to reflect on your life over the past 12 months – what worked for you and what didn’t. As you take stock of where you are, why not take the dawning of a new year as a prompt to check out your insurance policies and decide what should change.

Your insurance portfolio should always be a work in progress because, just as your life changes constantly, your insurance coverage must change to fit your circumstances. Whether it’s your auto insurance or the coverage on your home or maybe the amount of life insurance you carry, the new year is a good time to take a close look at what you have versus what you might now need.

Now you might be wondering  why do this and, in fact, how to go about evaluating your insurance.  The reason to do it is to be best prepared for whatever comes your way. As to how to do it: you might want to start by focusing on what you see as the worst that might happen to your vehicle, your home, your health/life. When you’ve come to terms with those scenarios, then decide what role your insurance portfolio needs to play should you  need to recover from a setback. Armed with that information, you will know what your insurance needs are; and then it’s time to schedule a visit with your insurance agent to review your current policies and discuss your options.

Read More below to see how to evaluate your insurance and what questions to ask...

Friday, 05 January 2018 13:37

 

Could your household clothes dryer be a potential fire hazard?Are you like many of us who just assume that the household appliances we use each day will always be reliable… and safe. For example, we all do the regular grind of laundry; but we rarely consider that our clothes dryer could become a serious fire hazard. However, the U. S. Fire Administration (a division of FEMA) tells us that an estimated 2,900 clothes dryer fires occur in households each year resulting in some 100 injuries (with an estimated 5% fatalities) and causing approximately $35 million in property damage.

The USFA reminds us that dryer fires are more frequent during winter months. The main cause of such fires stems from failure to thoroughly clean the appliance, allowing unfiltered fibers and lint to settle around the exhaust pipe or the heating element where they can ignite.

Monday, 14 November 2016 14:33

blog hurricane

June 1st marks the beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season, and the peak season runs from mid-August through October. Except for the coastal areas, the midAtlantic region of the country rarely suffers direct hits from hurricanes. But we do experience severe storms with high winds, lightning and flooding – often the indirect result of hurricanes. So it is helpful to know what to do before, during and after a storm hits.  

One thing that could be overlooked is the potential harm that can come from the electricity in your home. The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) offers the following safety tips to help you avoid injuries from electrical and fire damage.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017 14:03

blog homeowners rights

Do you know why spring is known as the home buying season? It seems that almost half of home sales for the entire year occur during the period of April through June.

If you are shopping for a new home, you probably already know that you’ll be asking a lot of questions. You’ll want to know about the neighborhood, perhaps the schools, and the financials – from the mortgage interest rates to fees and taxes. After all, buying a home is likely the largest investment you’ll be making.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017 05:18