Tag Archives: homeowners insurance

Spring Home Maintenance for Savings

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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

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 –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


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: www.iii.org

Protect Yourself and Guests with Holiday Parties

christmas partyWith the holidays here, many of us are planning to host holiday parties in our homes and will be serving alcohol to our guests.  A good host is a responsible host.  You need to protect yourself and guests when hosting your holiday parties.

According to Insurance Information Institute,  “You can be held legally responsible for your guests’ actions after they leave your party, hosts need to be particularly careful,” said Loretta Worters, vice president of the I.I.I. “While a social host is not liable for injuries sustained by the drunken guest (as they are also negligent), the host can be held liable for third parties, and may even be liable for passengers of the guest who have been injured in their car.”

How to Protect Yourself and Your Guests

If you plan to serve alcohol at a holiday party the I.I.I. offers the following tips to promote safe alcohol consumption and reduce your social host liability exposure:

  • Make sure you understand your state laws. Before sending out party invitations, familiarize yourself with your state’s social host liability laws. These laws vary widely from state to state. Some states do not impose any liability on social hosts. Others limit liability to injuries that occur on the host’s premises. Some extend the host’s liability to injuries that occur anywhere a guest who has consumed alcohol goes. Many states have laws that pertain specifically to furnishing alcohol to minors.
  • Consider venues other than your home for the party. Hosting your party at a restaurant or bar with a liquor license, rather than at your home, will help minimize liquor liability risks.
  • Hire a professional bartender. Most bartenders are trained to recognize signs of intoxication and are better able to limit consumption by partygoers. 
  • Encourage guests to pick a designated driver who will refrain from drinking alcoholic beverages so that he or she can drive other guests home.
  • Be a responsible host/hostess. Limit your own alcohol intake so that you will be better able to judge your guests’ sobriety.
  • Offer non-alcoholic beverages and always serve food. Eating and drinking plenty of water, or other non-alcoholic beverages, can help counter the effects of alcohol.
  • Do not pressure guests to drink or rush to refill their glasses when empty. And never serve alcohol to guests who are visibly intoxicated.
  • Stop serving liquor toward the end of the evening. Switch to coffee, tea and soft drinks.
  • If guests drink too much or seem too tired to drive home, call a cab, arrange a ride with a sober guest or have them sleep at your home.
  • Encourage all your guests to wear seatbelts as they drive home. Studies show that seatbelts save lives.

We want you to enjoy your holiday parties safely. If you have any questions on whether your insurance covers you give us a call.

Penny Hanley & Howley Insurance

Protecting YOU is our Job

Dogs: More than just a bark

Not all dog owners can say their dogs have never been aggressive or violent. In fact, the Center for Disease Control has stated dogs bite more than 4.5 million Americans annually, resulting in approximately 800,000 injuries requiring medical attention. Apart from the statistics, most people probably know at least a few folks who’ve been bitten by a dog, and many of the dogs responsible for the bite probably “never did anything like that before.”

Unfortunately, the laws and regulations governing dog-bite liability are far from uniform and emanate from the city, county and state levels. Dog ownership factors prominently in the realm of homeowners insurance, and insurers approach the issue differently. The fact is, when it comes to insurance, a dog represents a risk that often is ascertainable and insurers treat it accordingly. Therefore, by taking a look at the landscape of dog-bite law, including the specific approaches taken by several states, perhaps this resource kit will shed light on why some insurers behave like they’ve seen a “Beware of Dog” sign.

The basics
States typically approach the dog-bite issue with some combination of specific dog-bite statutes, the one-bite rule and negligence laws. In general, dog-bite statutes make the owner automatically liable for any injury caused by his dog if it was unprovoked. One-bite rules have been around for years and ordinarily provide the owner is responsible for injury caused by the dog if the owner knew the dog had dangerous propensities. Naturally, the most common way an owner can obtain this kind of knowledge is if she learns the dog previously bit someone.

Finally, every state has negligence laws dictating an owner will be liable for injuries and losses resulting from his negligence in connection with the dog. An owner also can be deemed negligent if he or she breaks a strict-liability law such as a leash law. Simply put, if you live in an area with a leash law and you fail to put your dog on a leash, you’re liable automatically.

Connecticut General Statute Section 22-357 is the state’s dog-bite statute. It provides that the owner or keeper of a dog that does any damage to person or property shall be liable for the damage as long as the person injured was not, at the time of the injury, committing trespass or another tort or teasing, tormenting or abusing the dog. It is important to note this statute is not limited to dog bites; rather, it applies to all personal or property damage done by a dog. Further, the statute contains a presumption that a child under seven years old who is injured by a dog was not committing a trespass or other tort, or teasing, tormenting or abusing the dog at the time of the injury. As you can see, dogs in Connecticut do not get “one free bite.”

Connecticut also has made it illegal for an owner to permit a dog to roam unattended. Violations of these laws can result in fines and, under certain circumstances, imprisonment.

So what are your thoughts on this article?  Leave us a comment below.

Protecting YOU is our Job

Penny Hanley & Howley Insurance

source info: PIA.org