Category Archives: Insurance

Spring Home Maintenance for Savings

copyright: premier roofing

We’ve already seen how some basic cleaning can save you money in efficiency dollars, and in this post we’re going to expand that to include exterior maintenance and prevention.

It’s a good idea to give your house an annual whole house physical to catch issues before they get out of hand, and do routine maintenance that will extend the life of your home. In the case of home ownership, a penny of maintenance can be worth tens of thousands in repairs. Catching issues before they get out of hand will save time, money, and frustration in the long run.

Outdoor Inspections-
Roof–  Checking out your roof might seem like a daunting, ladder requiring task, but if you know what you are looking for, a simple pair of binoculars should do the trick. Below are some of the basic things to look for. If you see any of these,  call a roofer to come out and inspect further (or contact your homeowners insurance carrier if the damage is following a storm).
Cracked or Missing Shingles
– Shingles That Have Shifted

copyright 2002 Guardian

 –Nail Pops-                                                              copyright frisby construction

Chimney Check-Up

Even if you don’t use your fireplace or chimney, it is important to look it over regularly from the outside. Look carefully for anything missing or gaps between the bricks. Also beware of any greenery growing on chimney, as it is a signal that water is getting in between the bricks, which can ultimately lead to the chimney becoming unstable, dangerous, and expensive to fix.  Another indicator of water is something called “efflorescence”, which appears as an almost chalky white  layer on the outside of the chimney (see picture)In some cases, a special sealer can be applied to stop or repair the water damage, but in other cases an actual chimney repairman will have to be called.

Exterior Inspection

Take some time to walk all around the house and look over the exterior walls and foundation, paying special attention to trouble prone areas like under eaves and near gutter downspouts. Check to see that everything, including siding, looks in tact, as holes and misaligned siding can make way for carpenter ants and wookpeckers.

It’s a good idea to do a similar mini-inspection after any storms, especially those with really high winds, hail or if any trees fall. If you notice anything, take a picture and call your homeowners insurance and they can tell you what to do.

Top to Bottom In the House

Attic– Head to the attic and look for signs of insects or critters colonizing up there like animal droppings or bee/wasp nests. Also look carefully for mold, which can appear as gray or black blotches that look like staining. Good insulation, and proper ventilation will help deter mold growth.

Basement– Down here the things you want to look for are insects (again!),  and mold. As you probably know,  basements can be prone to dampness, which can lead to mold growth. Just like in attics, mold appears as a gray or black staining on wood. Installing a dehumidifier in the basement can help keep it dry.

Be sure check the interior foundation for any cracks in the masonry. If you see anything, call a qualified repairman to take a look at it. Avoid putting caulk into the crack or trying other DIY solutions. Foundation issues can be serious and ultimately affect the structural integrity of the house and should be handled by a professional.

If you live in an older area or historical house: While you are down there, keep your eyes peeled for areas that may have been built to cover up hidden passageways or uneven basement flooring that may be hiding buried treasure.



Hot Water Heater

During your whole house physical, be sure to take time to inspect your hot water heater.  Check it for signs of leaks or corrosion.

Spring Home Maintenance Checklist
Money Saving Home Maintenance


Simple ways to avoid a Loss of your property or home

homeowners insuranceThe thought of a loss of property or complete loss of your home can be devastating.  What’s even more difficult is when the loss was something avoidable.  Taking preventative measures in your home can help reduce the possibility of a future loss of your home or property.  These common causes below can be avoided and keep you and your home safe if you take the time to address them.

Kitchen Fires – one of the most common causes of a home loss starts in the kitchen.  This is due to food left unattended on the stove which many times can cause a grease fire.  If you have a grease fire, the best thing to use is baking soda or flour to put it out, never use water.

Candles – another common cause of home losses.  Never leave a candle burning near flammable materials. Always remember to snuff out your candles before leaving your home.

Smoking – smoking in your home not only leaves a film and smell in your home but can cause a house fire if a lit cigarette is left unattended in your home.  Make the effort to smoke outside your home to avoid this potential hazard

Dryer fires – when is the last time you cleaned out your dryer vent?  Built up lint in your dryer vent is another fire hazard for your home.  To avoid this hazard clean out your dryer vent at least once a month.

Property in your vehicle – don’t leave valuable items in your car, as this leads to the potential for theft

Washing machines – these are a common water loss claims.  At least once a year you should check your washing machine hoses to make sure they are not brittle, cracking or loose.  Typically you should replace your hoses every couple years.  Always remember to shut off the water to your washing machine when not in use.

Remember these few tips and avoid potential property or home losses. And to make sure you have the proper home and property coverage, contact Penny Hanley & Howley Insurance

Protecting YOU is our Job

When’s the last time you did a home inventory?

home inventoryWhen’s the last time you did a home inventory?

We don’t stop to think about how many things we have added to our homes over the years. If you have been in the same house for over 15 years there is a pretty good chance you have collected a variety of items.  Many of these items may be of value.  There are a variety of ways to do a home inventory, from keeping a simple notebook, storing pictures on a flash drive, making a video or even using an APP to record it all. If you are looking to use an APP to record your home inventory, be sure to check out our APP which has a home inventory feature right on it.

A good habit to get into is keeping your receipts for any new purchases, making a note of when you purchased it and the price you paid for it.  Expensive items like jewelry and artwork may need to be insured separately.  You’ll want to ask your agent whether or not you need to schedule these items on your policy.

You can refer to the following lists to help create your inventory lists.  Write a brief description of the item including when and where you purchased it, make and model and price.

General Appliances

VCR/DVD player
Video camera
CD player
Stereo equipment
CDs, records
Sewing machine
Answering machine
Air conditioners
Vacuum cleaner
Exercise equipment

General Household

Window treatments
Lamps/light fixtures
Collections (coin, stamp, etc.)
Pictures/wall hangings
Living Room

Coffee table
End tables
Entertainment center/wall units
Piano/other musical instruments
Dining Room

China cabinet
Table linens
Tea/coffee sets
Serving table/cart


Bed linens
Dressing tables
Night tables 


Sports apparel

Microwave oven
Coffee makers/other small appliances
Kitchen utensils 


Hair dryer/other electrical appliances
Shower curtains

Home Office/Study/Den

Fax machine
Business supplies

Sports equipment
Toys/Outdoor games
Small boats
Lawn mower
Snow blower
Wheelbarrow/other garden tools and supplies
Work bench
Carpentry tools/supplies
Holiday decorations 


Garden chairs
Garden tables
Outdoor cooking equipment



Wills, living wills and powers of attorney
Birth certificates
Marriage certificates/divorce decrees
Social security cards
Education records
Employment records
Church records


Insurance records
Tax records
Creditor information
Credit card information
Bank information (account numbers, statements, etc.)
Retirement and pension account information
Home improvement records warranties

Hopefully these tips will help you will doing a home inventory.  Remember if you have an expensive items that you feel need to be scheduled on your insurance policy be sure to give one of our agents a call to assist you with this.

Which Business Insurance is best for you?

retail business insuranceOver the next couple weeks we will go over a variety of types of businesses and discuss which type of insurance fits your business needs.  This week will cover Retail Businesses.  Each business is different and you always want to make sure you are properly covered.

This weeks information comes from I.I.I. which does a great job explaining all you need to know about Retail Store business insurance.  Remember for any questions on you business insurance give us a call at Penny Hanley & Howley Insurance. We’ll be happy to answer any of your questions.

Small Retail Stores

Whether selling jewelry or garden plants, bicycles or lingerie, retail establishments typically have some features in common.  For one, they usually have inventory that needs to be protected from physical perils, such as fire or theft.  They also have a good deal of store traffic from the general public, raising the risk of third-party bodily injury claims.

Generally, the most cost effective and efficient way to provide property and liability insurance for your small retail business is with a Businessowners Policy (BOP) specifically tailored to small retail stores. Though marketed under a variety of names, policies will typically have provisions similar to the property insurance and liability insurance sections of the BOP, with the option to add various other coverages that you may need.


The BOP covers real estate your business owns. If your store rents or leases its premises, the BOP provides coverage, in the event of a covered cause of loss, for tenants’ improvements and betterments. These are fixtures, alterations, installations, or additions that you have put into the space that cannot legally be removed from the landlord’s premises.

The BOP insures your other business property (in addition to real estate) and your inventory. The policy recognizes that many retailers experience seasonal variations in value. For the majority, Christmas is the big selling season, but for others, the biggest season may be summer. The BOP accommodates seasonally fluctuating inventory value with an automatic 25 percent increase in your policy limit for business personal property, which includes inventory. The seasonal escalator applies only if you have insured business personal property to at least 100 percent of your average monthly values during either the 12 months preceding the loss or the period of time you have been in business as of the date of the loss, whichever is less.

The higher your inventory’s value, the more attractive a target it is for thieves. Risk management can help reduce this risk, but can never entirely eliminate it. To protect from potential losses, you will probably wish to add Burglary and Robbery Coverage to your BOP. Employee dishonesty is another risk for which you can add protection. The BOP already covers your risk of accepting bogus money orders and counterfeit money, although you may want to add higher limits.

Depending on the nature of your retail business, other coverages that may be appropriate to add include:

  • Spoilage: If you sell items—such as cut flowers or food—that must be kept under controlled temperature conditions to avoid spoiling or perishing, you can add spoilage coverage for the value of property spoiled as a result of a breakdown of the temperature control system due to conditions beyond your control.
  • Food Contamination: If you sell food, there is a risk that it could cause food poisoning or transmit a communicable disease from an employee of your business. You can cover this risk with a Food Contamination Endorsement.
  • Mechanical Breakdown: This option provides coverage for mechanical or electrical breakdown to your boilers, pressure vessels, refrigeration systems, piping and mechanical and electrical machines, and apparatus that generate, transmit or use mechanical or electrical power.
  • Outdoor Signs: The basic BOP doesn’t cover an outdoor sign not attached to the building, but you can add this coverage as a separate endorsement.

Another thing to consider is insuring your merchandise while it is in transit. Although it will usually be insured by the transportation company that is delivering it, the limit may not be high enough nor the coverage sufficiently extensive. You can add more coverage with a “transportation floater.” This form of insurance covers your property while it is being transported from one point to another or in the care, custody or control of others.


The liability coverage in the BOP protects your business from many liability loss exposures. For most stores, a frequent risk is that a customer could be injured in a slip and fall accident. While the BOP covers your liability in such accidents, up to the policy limit, it’s also important to manage the risk to keep insurance claims down.

As a seller of products, there is also the risk that someone could sustain bodily injury or other harm from something you sold. This risk, too, is covered by the BOP.

If your business involves selling on the Internet, you can find out more about insurance issues on the e-commerce page of this Web site.


Your personal auto policy probably provides coverage for some business use of your vehicle. A personal auto policy is unlikely to provide coverage, however, if the vehicle in question is used primarily in business. It will not provide coverage for any vehicle owned by a business. For those vehicles you must have a business auto policy.

Should you be driving your personal auto for a business purpose and get into an accident for which you are liable, an injured person could sue you personally. Will your personal auto policy have enough coverage to pay all the damages? If not, a lawsuit may be filed against your business. If you use personal vehicles for business, you want to be sure you have high enough limits to protect your business. You should discuss this with your insurance agent.


States have varying rules about when an employer must provide workers compensation insurance. If you have three or more employees, you should check with your state department of workers compensation to see if you are required to provide workers comp insurance.

source info: I.I.I.

Penny Hanley & Howley Insurance

Protecting YOU is our Job

Save Money on Your Homeowners Insurance

homeowners insuranceWe are always looking for ways to cut costs, whether it’s groceries, electric bill or even your insurance.  Here are 5 tips you can do to help reduce your homeowner’s insurance costs.


Companies offer several types of discounts, but they don’t all offer the same discount or the same amount of discount in all states. For example, since retired people stay at home more than working people they are less likely to be burglarized and may spot fires sooner, too. Retired people also have more time for maintaining their homes. If you’re at least 55 years old and retired, you may qualify for a discount of up to 10 percent at some companies. Some employers and professional associations administer group insurance programs that may offer a better deal than you can get elsewhere.

Good Credit:

Establishing a solid credit history can cut your insurance costs. Insurers are increasingly using credit information to price homeowner’s insurance policies. In most states, your insurer must advise you of any adverse action, such as a higher rate, at which time you should verify the accuracy of the information on which the insurer relied. To protect your credit standing, pay your bills on time, don’t obtain more credit than you need and keep your credit balances as low as possible. Check your credit record on a regular basis and have any errors corrected promptly so that your record remains accurate.

Stay with the same insurer:

If you’ve kept your coverage with a company for several years, you may receive a special discount for being a long-term policyholder. Some insurers will reduce their premiums by if you stay with them for three to five years and even more if you remain a policyholder for six years or more. But make certain to periodically compare this price with that of other policies.

Home Security:

You can usually get discounts for a smoke detector, burglar alarm or dead-bolt locks. Some companies offer to cut your premium if you install a sophisticated sprinkler system and a fire and burglar alarm that rings at the police, fire or other monitoring stations. These systems aren’t cheap and not every system qualifies for a discount. Before you buy such a system, find out what kind your insurer recommends, how much the device would cost and how much you’d save on premiums.

Make your home disaster resistant:

Check with your insurance agent or what steps you can take to make your home more resistant to windstorms and other natural disasters. You may be able to save on your premiums by adding storm shutters, reinforcing your roof or buying stronger roofing materials. Older homes can be retrofitted to make them better able to withstand earthquakes. In addition, consider modernizing your heating, plumbing and electrical systems to reduce the risk of fire and water damage.

If you have done any improvements or updates to your home in the last 6 months, give us a call and let us know.  We will update our system and may be able to offer you a reduced rate.

Penny Hanley & Howley Insurance

Protecting YOU is our Job

Source info:

Did Santa bring you new jewelry or fine arts for Christmas?

art and jewelry insuranceWere you extra good this year?  Did Santa bring you jewelry, fine arts or even new big kid toys?  Well if you were lucky enough to get one of these presents, then the next thing you need to consider is contacting your insurance agent to have these added to your insurance policy.

These wonderful gifts are important to you, it’s equally important to make sure they are properly insured as well.

To have proper insurance protection for your jewelry, fine arts and other valuables, there are several options for expanded coverage. A smaller collection can often be covered using a special floater endorsement on your home policy commonly referred to as scheduling. For larger collections or extremely valuable items you may want to consider a separate policy.

Because there are so many variables to protecting jewelry and fine arts, the key to knowing which coverage is best for you is having a trusted and knowledgeable insurance agent. Penny Hanley & Howley Insurance can help you with providing you the best options for protecting your valuables and jewelry.

Now if you were lucky enough to get a snowmobile or other recreational vehicle for Christmas, then you’ll want to make sure to give us a call with the information on your new toy so we can add this to your insurance policy as soon as possible.

Penny Hanley & Howley Insurance

Protecting YOU is our Job

Have you done a home inventory?

umbrella insuranceHave you done a home inventory yet?  If you haven’t you should really consider doing this.  Here is some great information on the best way to proceed with a home inventory from Insurance Information Institute.  You can also do a home inventory right from our PHH APP as well.
Start by making a list of your possessions, describing each item and noting where you bought it and its make and model. Clip to your list any sales receipts, purchase contracts, and appraisals you have. For clothing, count the items you own by category (pants, coats, shoes, for example), making notes about those that are especially valuable. For major appliances and electronic equipment, record the serial numbers, which are usually found on the back or bottom.
  • Don’t be put off!  
    If you are just setting up a household, starting an inventory list can be relatively simple. If you’ve been living in the same house for many years, however, the task of creating a list can be daunting. Still, it’s better to have an incomplete inventory than nothing at all. Start with recent purchases, then try to remember what you can about older possessions.
  • Big ticket items  
    Valuable items like jewelry, art work and collectibles may have increased in value since you received them. Check with your agent to make sure that you have adequate insurance for these items. They may need to be insured separately and it is important that your insurance company know about these items before there is a loss.
  • Take a picture 
    You can also take pictures of rooms and important individual items to have a visual record of your belongings. On the back of the photos, note what is shown and where you bought it or the make. Don’t forget things that are in closets or drawers. If you use your phone or a digital camera, you may also be able to add a description of the item when saving the photo.
  • Videotape it  
    Walk through your house or apartment videotaping and describing the contents. Or do the same thing using a tape recorder. This can be useful for items such as clothing or kitchenware. You can simply open a kitchen shelf or closet and describe the contents. For instance, in the kitchen, it would be sufficient to state that you have a set of dishes for 12 that includes a dinner plate, salad plate, etch with when and where it was purchased
  • Create a digital record  
    Use your computer or mobile device to make your inventory list. There are many software options and mobile apps that can help you create a room-by-room record of your belongings. To make creating your inventory as easy as possible, the I.I.I. offers free Web-based home inventory software, Know Your Stuff® – Home Inventory. The software includes secure online storage so you can access your inventory anywhere, anytime. You can also download the Know Your Stuff app in the iTunes App Store (or search for “iii inventory”) or fromGoogle Play. Information about your belongings can be entered either through the mobile app or online and your data will automatically synchronize between the two. All of your information will be kept in your personal, password protected account, on Amazon secure servers. And, like the online version, the Know Your Stuff® app is free of charge.

For all your home insurance needs give Penny Hanley & Howley Insurance