Is Your Teen Driver Insurance Driving You to Bankruptcy?
By Paul Pukis
July 2, 2014
So, it's no surprise that adding a teen driver to your auto insurance policy will inevitably bump up your premium--significantly. But following a few simple tips can help keep it from breaking the bank.
As the parent or guardian of a young driver, you understand how important it is to have good car insurance to protect them.
The dangers of an inexperienced driver is well documented. According to the Institute for Highway Safety, teen drivers are four times more likely to be involved in a car crash than older drivers.
And this added risk to your insurance company is enough to bump up your insurance premiums.
Fortunately, there are some ways you can help lower the cost of a young driver policy:
Tip 1: Raise deductible
Raise your comprehensive and collision deductibles to at least $1,000. This will lower your monthly premium. By avoiding filing small claims you can ensure that you will keep your claims-free discount.
Tip 2: Pair your coverage with your car’s value
If your older car is worth just a bit more than your deductible, you can drop collision and comprehensive coverage entirely. The car's Kelley Blue Book trade-in and retail values can help guide you.
Tip 3: Drive a safe car
Having your teen drive a safe car will not only give you peace of mind but will help keep your automobile insurance affordable. Making sure that your vehicle has full front-seat airbags or automatic seat belts that work automatically when your door closes make your car safer and may influence your premiums. Safety ratings can be researched using the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety website. You may be able to get a better deal on cheap teen auto insurance when you insure a vehicle with.
Tip 4: Encourage your teens to perform well in school
Many students who have a high grade point average are more responsible and better drivers- and can qualify for a discount. If your young driver earns a B average or better, you might be able to save up to 20% on your premiums. Contact your insurance provider to see if you qualify.
Tip 5: Install an anti-theft device and park in the garage
Your insurance premiums may reduce when you install an anti-theft device in all your vehicles. The discount will vary based on the type of device installed and the state in which the vehicle is garaged.
Tip 6: Ask about discounts for teen driver programs
Some insurers will offer discounts for a passing grade in a certified driver’s ed class, a defensive driving class, or other certified program. Driving courses may save you up to 15% on teen insurance premiums, according to the Independent Insurance Institute. Be sure to check with your insurer before paying for an expensive private class.
Tip 7: Don’t lower liability coverage
Make sure you have liability coverage of at least $250 000 per person, $500,000 per accident and $250,000 for property damage (or a policy with a "combined single limit" of $500,000, when available, which doesn't limit the coverage to $250,000 per person involved in the accident). Since teens are more likely to get into an accident, any savings made on your premiums for lower liability could cost you tens of thousands in the likely event of an accident.
These 7 tips are proven ways to save while insuring your new driver. Mosaic Insurance has tons of other advice that can help your family reduce premiums and gain coverage to meet your needs.
As much as you may not want to admit it, your driving record has a lot to do with the rates you'll get for your young driver insurance. Insurance companies believe the old adage, "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree" stands true regarding car insurance. The more colorful your driving record, the higher your base premium is and the larger the factor will be when determining the auto insurance cost for your new driver.
Contact us today for your no-hassles consultation. As your local Teen Driver Insurance Specialists, we compare rates with dozens of top-tier companies that have low rates for families with young drivers to make the transition as financially easy as possible.
You can reach us at 425.320.4280 or SuperAgent@MosaicIA.com
You Can Trust Us To Do The Job For You.
Home Insurance: Protect your home this summer
By Paul Pukis
June 13, 2014
Summer is finally brightening up in Western Washington and the barbeques are rolling out of the garages and onto decks all across the state. Friends are gathering around beer coolers and the sounds of jubilation can be heard far and wide.
And while the long, drawn out days are perfect for lounging on the lawn with the barbecue smoking up your burgers, these summer-time festivities can put your home at serious risk.
Are you protected...
Homeowners insurance is typically required for homes financed through a mortgage. Most lenders require homeowners to carry an insurance policy in case the home is damaged. This protects them while they carry the financial burden of your house. However, even if you own your home outright, maintain your house and are not located in the pathway of natural disasters like tornados or hurricanes, homeowners insurance can prove invaluable in unexpected scenarios.
From a klutzy friend?
Everyone has that one friend who is a little less graceful than others. If he were to trip and fall during one of your summertime barbecues, you could be held responsible for the injury and liable for his medical expenses.
You didn’t mean to invite him over for a round of shooting hoops, but he heard you from down the street. It’s just a friendly backyard game of hoops! But if he’s messing around and gets injured (especially after those couple of brewskies you provided) on your property, his injury is your fault.
A good homeowners insurance policy should pay for the injured party's medical expenses and in turn, protect you from legal problems.
From a BBQ grill oops?
Every year it is recorded that 600 fires or explosions occur with gas grills. Many accidents occur the first time a barbecue is lit for the season or when the propane tank is refilled and reattached. Serious injuries and property damage can result from poor grill safety.
Tips to keep your grilling festivities safe:
1. Check the grill hoses for brittleness or cracking, holes and leaks. There should be no sharp bends in the tubing or hose.
2. Ensure your propane tank has a three-prong gas valve handle and adheres to current safety standards.
3. Always keep propane gas containers upright.
4. Do not store spare propane containers under or near the grill.
5. Never bring a propane container indoors.
6. Avoid storing or using flammable liquids, like alcohol or gasoline near the grill.
7. Do not store a filled propane container in a hot car or car trunk.
8. Ensure the spark igniter is generating enough spark to create a flame and burn the propane gas. If the flame is not visible, the propane gas will escape and could cause an explosion.
9. If using a barbecue grill on a decks or patio, be sure to leave sufficient space from siding and eaves.
10. Keep children and pets far away from the propane tanks, the hot grill and any hot surface.
A turkey fry gone awry?
Lured by the promise of succulent meat, your neighbor insists it’s the only way to cook a turkey… and once you taste that moist bird you might have to agree.
You know how dangerous a vat of hot peanut oil is- after-all you saw the explosive turkey oil incident on YouTube. According to the National Fire Protection Association, every year deep-fryer fires are responsible for the destruction of 900 homes, 60 injuries, five deaths, and more than $15-million in property damage.
A slip of the hand, a slightly frozen bird or even a wind can destroy not only your hopes of a delicious meal, but also cause extensive damage to your home and belongings.
Tips to keep your turkey fry safe:
1. Always use fryers outside on a level surface a safe distance from buildings and flammable materials.
2. Do not use a fryer on a wooden deck, under a patio cover, inside, in an enclosed space or in your garage.
3. Do not overfill the fryer with oil.
4. Watch for overheating. Over hot oil will catch alight.
5. Keep pets and children away from the vat even once you think it’s cool. Cooling oil will take several hours.
6. Protect yourself from splatter with long sleeves, well insulated pot holders, and safety goggles.
7. Make sure your turkey is completely thawed before placing in the fryer.
8. Keep an all purpose fire extinguisher at the ready.
9. If a fire occurs, call 911 immediately.
Homeowners insurance is something that you hope you will never need, but if the situation requires it, it becomes invaluable. If disasters like flooding, fire, theft or vandalism, were to catch you or your family, a good home insurance policy will set you right back up on your feet and give back a normal life.
What does Motorcycle insurance in Washington cover?
By Paul Pukis
March 17, 2014
You’ve waited all grey-Washington-winter-long and it’s finally here, time to break out your beloved toy. There is nothing better than letting loose with your underused, probably under-appreciated, motorcycle.
Like anything you love you want to protect it. Washington motorcycle insurance protects your toy, your gear, and yourself. We think of motorcycle insurance as an extremely vital piece of safety equipment. And just like your bike, not all are created equal.
Nothing puts a damper in riding season like a totaled toy. In the unfortunate event that your toy is totaled, it can be replaced with a model year newer! Progressive is also one of the few insurance companies that not only covers your ride, but it also protects your gear when you’re riding too.
In addition Progressive will replace costly chrome, saddle bags, and safety apparel without depreciating them as some other insurance companies do.
We think that’s awesome, bro!
If you crash and burn and are unable to go to work, you could get up to $250/week compensation until you are able to return to your job.
And don’t forget Roadside Assistance and Trip Interruption coverage to keep your plans rolling all season long. So what are you waiting for?
Winter Driving Safety Tips
By Paul Pukis
February 3, 2014
Many times, especially during winter seasons, road traffic accidents become frequent news. No matter how good the road conditions are and how well maintained and alert the traffic authorities are, vehicles are prone to get damaged in one way or the other during winter. Especially in Seattle (home of the Champion Seahawks) where temperatures can dip below 32 degrees and where fog and ice may cover most of the landscape, winter driving poses as an even bigger threat. Driving in such harsh conditions is danger to your health and to the car as well.
So if you are planning to travel during the winter...we all have to, it is very important that you follow these instructions to keep you and your car safe, as well as other drivers on the road. Winter is when most car accidents take place. Be a little extra careful to avoid using your Seattle car insurance.
Winter Car Car:
Your car should be fully checked and serviced before going out anywhere. From the headlights to the taillights, from the engine to the brakes, from the windshield wipers to the fluid levels, from the exhaust system to the heating/cooling system, your car should be fully scanned for any small anomaly is amplified in winter and can result into a big accident afterwards. So, don’t take any risks.
Also, heat your car before going for a winter drive and always inform someone about your estimated time of arrival. Never let your fuel level drop below a 1/4 of a tank. Running out of gas is bad enough when it's warm, but when it's freezing, it's a whole different story. While winter driving, make sure that your tires are good-to-go for driving in icy or snowy conditions. Do you still have tread or do your tires look like beach tires on a dune buggy? Best tires for such weather are Radial Tires. There are tires designed for more ice or for more snow. The right tire for you depends on the conditions you'll be in most. Check and equalize the pressure in all the tires as the pressure falls 1 psi for every 12 degree drop in temperature.
Now that you have serviced your car and checked, examined and corrected every fault, the next step is how to drive during the winter.
What To Do When Driving:
Always plan your outings depending on the current weather conditions and forecasts. While winter driving, always drive slow than you might normally drive. If you take, for example 20 mins to reach a point, then during icy and snowy conditions the time might be doubled or trebled. Also, steer carefully while driving. Jerky turns will be dangerous for you as chances are very high that the car will skid. Always wear warm clothing while winter driving, and if the weather gets harsh then it’s better to get off the road than left stranded on the road.
Now that we have discussed how to be cautious with your car before and during the colder months, let’s not ignore another very basic step while going out in the chilly conditions. That is getting your car insured by a good insurance company. Did you know a Trusted Choice Independent Insurance Broker has many options for car insurance? And, best of all, they do all the shopping for you...just like a personal shopper at the mall! Yep, it can be that great!
How will getting your car insured by Mosaic Insurance Alliance LLC benefit you? Concerned that the weather conditions might play a role in a future accident, we have companies that will forgive both accidents and tickets. I bet you wish you had that policy after your last auto insurance renewal went up because of the ticket you got or the accident you had. Want to take out your classic car on a gorgeous winter day but you're unsure if your existing classic car insurance allows you? Accidents in winter can become big payouts. Are you comfortable with the limits of liability you have or should you look into a personal umbrella policy? Want an extra $1,000,000 of coverage for about $0.30/day? This is the most bang-for-your buck policy available. We can help show you how it benefits you.
12 Days of Holiday Mayhem: An Insurance Agent's Nightmare
By Paul Pukis
December 24, 2013
Will Your Insurance Leave You Out in The Cold?
This holiday season, one insurance agent could find no rest. What kind of insurance is really the best?
Is everything covered? Tomorrow's the party--there'll be drinking and dancing and laughing so hearty.
His eyelids grew heavy, his head started to nod--the candles still burning as he dreamed, the poor sod.
All 12 drummers drumming, 11 pipers piping too. It seemed that this party was a bit of a zoo!
But wait, what's this, one of them has broken their nose? You thought you'd told Billy to roll up that hose!
Now arriving, your buddies, from back at the frat--it's GO TEAM Lords-a-Leaping, all 10 at that!
They're all good natured, it starts as clean fun--until one slips and falls on his buns. Our agent is thinking he got what he deserved--but what's this about his guest was over-served?
9 ladies dancing, including the missus, one breaks an ankle, the other--some dishes.
Just as he's thinking, it couldn't get worse! 8 Maids-a-Milking get a bit terse. They were driving home young Jenny and rear ended a hearse.
He looks out the window to see what else could be the matter--7 Swans-a-Swimming in his pond getting fatter!
First someone's bit, then someone falls in. Our poor agent's patience wears a tad thin.
His wife's on the phone, seems someone's sick--those 6 Geese-a-Laying are to blame for the trick.
To make the night sadder, he's missing some things--seems that a guest made off with 5 Gold Rings.
"I can't take it anymore," he cries, "This place is for the birds!" 4 Colly Birds, 3 French Hens,
2 Turtle Doves, and a Partridge in a Pear Tree make him eat his words.
They break through a window, and knock down the tree--before escaping by moonlight to live always free.
So here is a riddle, now that this nightmare is over: will insurance help him, or were these uncovered exposures?
ANSWER: Many of these things could be covered under your Homeowner's Insurance. However, it's important to be aware of the kind of coverage you have. Some policies have exclusions for damage done by animals, for example. Also, an Umbrella policy can help fill in the gaps if someone is injured at your home due to negligence (like a hose left out that someone trips on or a pond you forgot to warn them about). A host could also be in trouble if his inebriated guests leave his property and injure others. Most homeowner's policies won't cover products you sell, so the geese eggs could be a problem. And, since insurance follows the car and the guest driver's coverage is secondary, there's a good chance you'll be shelling out for for the "maid" accident. As for the jewelry, your Homeowner's Insurance will probably pick up the tab (as long as the rings weren't over your sub-limits, or you listed them on the policy) but you'll face increased insurance premiums for several years as a result. With that kind of 'bling' around, it may be time to consider a separate jewelry insurance policy. These policies tend to cover more causes of loss, and if you have to turn in a claim you won't have to worry about your premiums skyrocketing!
We hope you enjoyed this lighthearted 'Insurance Agent's Nightmare,' but the holidays are a time when mishaps can multiply. Here's our three favorite safety tips this year:
- Keep your live tree well-watered, and be sure to turn off the lights at night whether the tree is real or not.
- Check all electrical decor for frayed wiring, and dispose of immediately if noticed.
- Keep walkways and driveways free of snow and ice, and when possible add friction tape to stairs and other slippery spots.
Carpet Cleaners Insurance | How Claims Work For Tough Stains
By Paul Pukis
October 13, 2013
Everyone has one. I know my carpet has many more than one. I'm talking about the ugly, try-to-cover-them-up-with-furniture spots on your carpet. My excuse is little kids and an old cat, Gypsy, who we finally had to put down to ease her pain and to save our carpets.
Why do We Know this?
As the administrator for the WA State Carpet Cleaners Insurance Program, we understand what creates a rock-solid policy just like carpet cleaners understand what it takes to clean carpets. At Mosaic Insurance Alliance LLC, we have special permission from the WA OIC to provide this program through several top-tier insurance companies. And, just like your local carpet cleaner takes their job seriously, we take our special permission to provide Carpet Cleaning Insurance seriously, too. We consider it our mission to provide the best protection for this special class of business at the lowest prices allowed by the OIC. In order to tie the two businesses together, we feel we are here to remove the spots from your protection plan.
Critical Steps for Your Carpet...and Your Insurance
When dealing with spills or spots, acting quickly is paramount. A quick response to the accident on your carpet has a direct correlation to how successful the entire process goes. Similar to Carpet Cleaner Insurance, time is of the essence to make sure your policy is correct and you're not over-paying. It is too late after the accident takes place to make sure your policy does what you think it will do. With a spill on your carpet, acting quickly is your best defense against living with another spot on your carpet.
Now that we know to act quickly, what should be done. Most experts recommend collecting any solid materials with a dull knife or spoon. This is to avoid damaging any of the carpet fibers. As we review your current protection plan, we will take a large overview of your program to make sure we avoid cutting into a policy before it's necessary. We want to discover the large gaps in your current Carpet Cleaners Insurance plan and take care of the big stuff first.
Next, it's time to take a clean, dry towel and blot the spill to soak up liquid. It is also recommended to use a towel from of any dyes or chemicals to avoid those items leaching into your carpet. Brushing or scrubbing may permanently damage the carpet fibers and make the area stand out even if you get all the spill removed. Similar to our Carpet Cleaning Insurance Program, we carefully review your business to make sure you qualify for access to the Program.
Now is when we start to get after it. Working from the outside in, apply the cleaning agents to a clean towel, not directly to the carpet. A normal knee-jerk reaction to the spill is to over-apply a cleaning solution, which ends up damaging the backing of the carpet. When you know the right steps to take, keeping those unsightly spots from your carpet becomes easier and more efficient to handle. We see the experience and Program we offer, the Carpet Cleaner Insurance Program, to follow the same path.
What to do Now?
At Mosaic Insurance Alliance LLC, we are specialists in Carpet Cleaners Insurance. If your a carpet cleaner looking for access to the Carpet Cleaning Insurance Program in Washington State, give us a call at 425.320.4280 or send us an email at SuperAgent@MosaicIA.com. And, if your a consumer looking for a carpet cleaner, we work with many high-quality businesses and would be happy to recommend.
What’s Missing from Your Everett Auto Insurance?
By Paul Pukis
October 8, 2013
Did you know that the personal insurance market has changed dramatically in the past several years? Because of this, many companies that provide Everett Car Insurance have changed coverage options. The main question is what do these changes mean to you.
For most Washington residents living in Snohomish County, the changes in Everett vehicle insurance may be hard to detect until it’s too late. It’s human nature to avoid things we don’t quite understand and your car policy is probably one of those things. You know what, that’s okay…as long as you work with a trusted independent agency like Mosaic Insurance Alliance LLCto help guide you through the changes and advise you on the options you have as a consumer.
Most of the changes in the Everett Automobile Insurance policy surround Medical, Uninsured Motorist and Property Damage coverage for your ride. As with just about everything else around us that we buy or use, the cost for those items or services continues to climb. Parts from the body shop, the cost of medical and the frequency of uninsured motorist claims are all on the rise. Everett Auto Insurance companies have options to reduce or limit coverage or raise rates or both. What is your personal car insurance company doing?
Most companies, concerned with how they will be viewed in the public eye if they lower the coverage they provide to a level well below other competitors, have taken the stance of increasing premium while providing similar coverage to what they provided before. My guess is you have seen this action from your company in your recent car insurance renewal.
If you would like to see what other options you have for your Everett Car Insurance, you can give us a ring at 425.320.4280, shoot us an email at SuperAgent@MosaicIA.com or stop by the office at 2122 164th St SW, Ste 301, Lynnwood, WA 98087.
Perhaps you don’t know what’s missing from your Everett Automobile Insurance protection because your agent has failed to inform you. Or, you use an online company thousands of miles away. Either way, my belief is you want to know about the changes that affect you and your Everett Vehicle Insurance before you find out the hard way…when an accident happens or you need to file a claim.
At Mosaic Insurance Alliance LLC, you get a personal insurance shopper to shop dozens of top-tier companies for you. All you have to do is sit back, relax and let your insurance specialist do all the shopping and comparing for you. It doesn’t get any more simple and easy as that plus it costs no additional money to have this World-Class Concierge Service. In fact, if we’re unable to save you money for the same or better coverage, lunch is on us. Let us know you read this promotion and we’ll take care of you for lunch. Put us to the test. You’ll be happy you did.
Insurance Protection for All That Surrounds You
By Paul Pukis
September 30, 2013
Protecting All That Surrounds You
I don't know about you, but every time I look around my own home or walk into someone else's I mentally cringe and think: Could be better. It's not the furnishings, decorations or cleanliness that bother me. It's the safety hazards and security risks. Once you tune into this stuff, you spot the flaws in every corner. Is your home insurance up to the challenge?
Trouble is, we're all so busy leading our supercharged lives that either we don't notice the warning signs or we just don't do anything about them. Or we push them back on the honey-do list with a mental "I'll get around to it" note. But we never do.
In a moment, I'm going to explain some simple ways to make your family, yourself and your home safer. But I just want to give you some numbers that show how deadly serious this business is.
So, where to start in making your home a safer place to live? Well, the first thing is to avoid getting overwhelmed by the task. You can't do it all at once. So you have to work out your priorities. And that may depend on where you live, who lives with you, and what's already been done to protect you.
For instance, if you live in a low crime area and have a young family, maybe kid-proofing your home is going to be ahead of installing a burglar alarm. Or if you have older or disabled folk in your household, solving their needs may be top of the list.
Spend a little while thinking this through, weighing what needs to be done against your available time and budget. You may decide to do things in a different order to the way I present them here. But whatever you do, it's an idea first to take a walk around your house, inside and out, and jot down some notes about what needs to be done under the following headings:
- Security – what you need to do to make your home safe from intruders. Which are the most vulnerable places? Doors? Windows? Basements?
- Fire and fume hazards – are there particularly risky places? Are there smokers (both human and stoves) in the house? Where's the ventilation? What about the clothes dryer vent?
- Possible accident spots – such as floor coverings, staircases, clutter (like in a teen's bedroom!), doors that open the "wrong" way, loose or worn fittings.
- Storage – from medications and laundry supplies, thru weapons, to emergency supplies like flashlights. How safe? How accessible?
- Safety and switch-off points. Check locations and accessibility of alarms and utility shut-offs. Do you know where they are and how to enable/disable them? Are they fully functional?
- Get the picture? You'll learn a lot more about these in the next few pages – and how to make them safe.
So, let's get started.
As far as I'm concerned, home safety boils down to two things – protecting your home and possessions, and taking care of yourself and your family. Let's start with the building and contents.
Things that won't cost you a cent
You don't have to turn your home into a fortress or spend a lot of money to make your place a heck-of-a-lot tougher for thieves to penetrate. In fact, there are a few things that won't cost a cent. I'm thinking here about keeping your doors and windows locked whenever possible, the garage door shut, letting trustworthy neighbors know and canceling newspaper and mail deliveries when you're going away, and fixing those shaky old fences.
Don't hide an emergency door key outside – thieves know all the "secret" places you believe they'll never think of, including that little bunny-rabbit figurine with the hidden compartment underneath. And be wary about trusting a youngster with an entry key. Give it to a relative or neighbor. Don't even keep your main key with items that identify your address, and never leave it in your car.
While we're on the subject of cars, you do always close your windows (leaving breathing space for pets if you have them) and lock the doors when you leave it, don't you? And, of course, you never leave your engine running while you dash across to the ATM? A friend of mine has never seen his cherished sports coupe since he did that a few years back.
Low budget route to peace of mind
Here's a comforting thought. When you spend just a small amount of money to improve your home security, you substantially reduce the risk of being burglarized. Even better, you may be able to cut your insurance premium by up to 20% – different insurers have different rules, so you'll need to investigate this.
You can buy a window lock for less than a dollar, a door safety chain for a couple of bucks, and a peephole that lets you view visitors before opening the door for just a little more. They're all simple to install but, if it's beyond your ability, find a friend, neighbor or relative who can help.
If your door locks and latches are old, or if you lost a key, replace them, making sure the new ones have a deadbolt at least one inch long. If your door has glass that a thief could break to reach through to the handle inside, consider a double deadbolt that has a key lock on each side – BUT always leave the key in the inside lock when you're at home, otherwise you won't be able to escape in an emergency.
Beyond this, we're talking home security alarms and detectors, but again it doesn't need to cost you a fortune. As I write this, I just did a quick check online and found systems at one big Internet retailer starting from as little as $25. It was wireless too – easy to install, with no messy wiring to do.
However, I'm not necessarily saying this is the way to go. It depends on your neighborhood crime risk, your personal vulnerability (for instance if you live alone) and your budget. You generally get what you pay for and this is an area where you might want to consult a professional – both about your needs and to do the installation. But if you do this, make sure you get two or, preferably, three competitive bids.
More sophisticated systems might include audible external alarms, external lighting directed at your home, cameras, internal motion sensors and even direct links to the security company that alerts them if your home is broken into. You can get more information on these options, including local experts from the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association at alarm.org.
Watch out for smooth talkers
You can have all the security systems in the world in place but they're of limited value if you let a burglar in through your front door. These characters come in all sorts of guises – like phony utility workers or someone asking for a glass of water or to use your bathroom or phone – but they all have a convincing story to tell.
They may even distract you inside or outside your home while an accomplice gets to work, or open a door or window so they can return later. The solution is not to let anyone into your house (nor go outside with them) unless you're 110% sure of who they are. Check their credentials and, if necessary, phone their supposed employers before letting them in. And use a door chain to prevent them forcing entry.
Protect yourself from fire and fumes
Wouldn't it be just great if we could build totally fireproof homes? I mean, building materials, furnishings and clothing that just didn't burn. Technically, I suppose it's possible but it'd cost you a small fortune. And since most of us can't go that route, let me tell you about the four things I've done in my home – bearing in mind, the most important thing in any home fire is the safety and survival of the occupants.
1. Installed fire/smoke alarms (a few dollars each) in all main rooms and hallways, and I check batteries regularly. If you already have them and they're more than 10 years old, I recommend you replace them.
2. Bought a fire escape ladder that I keep on an easily-accessible shelf on the landing, in case fire traps anyone upstairs. If you buy one, make sure everyone knows how to use it!
3. Placed a fire extinguisher in an entry-way closet. This only works if you take the time to learn how to use it (and what sort of fires it works on), regularly replace it, and use it only to tackle small fires – and then only AFTER calling 911.
4. Developed a simple fire safety and escape plan that I discussed with my family. The number one rule: Get out of the house and stay out. My plan included talking to my kids about fire dangers and appropriate behavior. See the next chapter for more on this
You can pick up some more useful tips on fire safety at home at firesafety.gov.
By the way, you may find that your local fire department offers free home checks and even free or cheap alarms.
You should also install at least one carbon monoxide alarm in your home (preferably near the bedrooms), which will pick up on fumes from furnaces, fires, other appliances and vehicles that reach a danger level in your home.
Weather-proofing your home
Would-be burglars and wayward flames are the most obvious threats to the security of your home. But there are others. Take the weather for instance. It never ceases to surprise us – or the meteorologists! – does it?
But there are a few simple steps you can take to minimize weather impact on your home and family. Lagging exposed pipes is probably the first thing that comes to mind – and not just outside either. One home I owned was plumbed for laundry appliances in the garage. I never used the system but completely overlooked the fact that it was still full of water – until the thaw after a particularly cold spell!
On the other hand, when the weather is hot and dry, it's your body more than your home that you have to think about – keeping well-hydrated and staying cool. Don't forget to take care of maintenance of your air conditioning and ventilation systems and to follow any advisories on brush clearance in a fire-risk area.
If you live in a storm, tornado, flood, or hurricane prone area, your basic safety rules include monitoring weather warnings, securing all vulnerable areas, including doors and windows, and knowing what to do if the worst happens. We take a closer look at preparing to deal with natural disasters in the next chapter.
Safes – every home should have one
A good safe is your final line of defense if someone does break into your home or if fire threatens to destroy valuables and important documents. In my opinion, every home should have one and it should be bolted to the floor – preferably a concrete floor or a joist.
It makes sense to keep really important stuff that you don't need regularly in a bank safety deposit box, but, for jewelry you wear frequently or documents you consult regularly, a small safe will meet your needs.
And, of course, it should go without saying that if you keep weapons or other potentially dangerous items at home, they should always be under lock and key.
Watch out for that wet floor. Whoops! Too late. Mind you don't bang your head. Ouch! Don't eat that. Oh no! I guess we've all been there, done that. And we have the scars to prove it! You let your guard down for a minute and disaster walks through the door. And some places – we've all been there too – are just asking for trouble.
There's just no way you can guarantee total safety in a home. But there's a whole lot you can do to eliminate the vast majority of the risks. Did you spot anything on that home and yard tour I advised a few pages back? I'd be surprised if you didn't. Most of our problems are down to carelessness and thoughtlessness and there are a few basic rules I can give you right now about dealing with them.
Basic home safety tips that could save a life
- Falls are the most common cause of accidents in the home, a substantial proportion of them serious or even fatal. You can cut the risk of these and maybe save a life by:
- Ensuring carpets are properly fixed to the floor (use floor-gripper tape for loose rugs on slippery surfaces, and ensure fitted carpets are fastened down).
- Removing clutter, especially in busy "traffic" areas.
- Marking temporary hazards – like a ladder that people don't expect to encounter – with a piece of brightly colored cloth and removing it as soon as you're done.
- Keeping floors dry or out of bounds when wet. You can buy specially absorbent rugs for particularly dangerous areas like the kitchen, laundry and bathroom.
- Installing handrails in bathrooms or wherever there are steps (including the yard) – especially important if you have older folk living with or visiting you.
- Repairing and leveling walkways in the yard.
- Installing low-wattage lighting along driveways and paths that are used at night.
Fires and fumes, which I talked about a few pages back, are another key area of home safety. In addition to the measures I recommended then, it's also important to make sure all rooms are properly ventilated, heating appliances are also inspected and serviced annually, air ducts and filters are regularly cleaned, and lint filters on clothes dryers are cleared out after each usage. Blocked lint filters and dryer vents are a major cause of fumes and fires.
Finally, I want to warn about keeping dangerous stuff out of reach. I'm talking here not only about your medications – prescription and over-the-counter stuff – and weapons that I talked about before. There are also other dangers you may not immediately recognize, like poisonous house plants, cleaning products and cosmetics and heavy or fragile objects that could cause mayhem if they fall or are broken.This is especially important if you have young people or pets around your home. You can get a list of poisons from both the American Association of Poison Control Centers and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.
Child-proof and pet-proof your home
I was visiting some elderly friends of mine a while back and noticed how many power outlets were uncovered at ground level. They were proudly showing me pictures of their year-old great-grandson. They were excited because the youngster and his parents would be visiting the following weekend.
"You know," I said, "he's going to be crawling around everywhere. You need to get those outlets covered. And while you're at it, make sure he can't even get to them and pull out the plugs that are connected.
"Oh, and maybe you need a plan for how you're going to stop him crawling up your stairs."
The point is, you don't need to be an active parent to have to childproof your home. And, in fact, many of the same things you'd do to keep kids safe in your house or apartment also would apply to pets.
I already mentioned keeping poisons, weapons and ornaments out of reach. But there are plenty of other things you should do to protect little ones and furry friends. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission lists 12 devices you can use to protect youngsters. If you're on the Internet, you can download their guide (see the contacts and links pages at the back of this book), but here, in summary, is the list:
1. Safety locks and catches on cabinets and draws wherever they're accessible.
2. Safety gates across doorways and stairs.
3. Doorknob covers and door locks to prevent access to out-of-bounds rooms.
4. Anti-scald devices on faucets and shower heads.
5. Smoke alarms (see above for more on these)
6. Window guards and safety netting to help prevent falls from windows, balconies, decks & landings.
7. Corner and edge bumpers to cushion sharp edges on furniture and fireplaces.
8. Outlet covers and outlet plates (as I told my senior friends).
9. Carbon monoxide alarm (again, see above).
10. A tassel on each separate window blind cord, and inner mini-blind cord-stops to prevent strangulation.
11. Anchors to avoid furniture and appliance tip-overs.
12. Layers of protection around pools and spas – a barrier completely surrounding the area, including a 4-foot tall fence and a self-closing, self-latching gate.
When I had a young family, I also made a point to educate my older kids about re-securing or removing any potentially dangerous items or gateways after they used them.
Don't forget too the basic child safety rules about never leaving them unattended in or near any water, whether it's the tub or a pool (even a paddling pool).
This is by no means an exhaustive list either. You can get lots more information online. The independent Consumer Reports organization also publishes its own Guide to Childproofing & Safety. You can buy or order it online or at a bookstore.
Taking care of the silver
By "silver" I mean our much-respected senior citizens. Maybe you're one yourself. Or perhaps you have an older relative living or visiting with you. These days, many seniors seem as young in mind and body as younger folk. And they work hard at staying that way.
But this can make it easy to overlook the vulnerability of the less able – like the couple I was talking about earlier, one of whom suffers badly from arthritis and the other can be (like many of us at times!) very forgetful.
When it comes to their personal safety, the key issues are fall-prevention, which I discussed earlier, and remembering to take medications, which can be solved by using a multi-compartment storage container labeled with the names of each day and refilled at the end of the week.
I also advised my friends to think about subscribing to a home alert system, where one of them can wear an alarm linked to a care-alert service if they are home alone when something goes wrong, and unable to get to the phone. They did this and I know it brought them great peace of mind.
Whether we're seniors or not, I think we all have a duty to keep an eye out for those who are more vulnerable than ourselves, checking on them when we see them – and when we don't.
Hygiene for health
A great thing about meeting people from other cultures is to share in some of their wisdom. One of my clients is Lebanese. He always looks so smart whenever we meet and, when I come to think of it, I've never known him to be sick in the 20-some years we've been acquainted.
I mentioned this to him one time and he quoted back to me what he said was a well-known Lebanese proverb: Hygiene is two thirds of health. Amen to that. And that being so, I'm rounding off this chapter by putting your home and personal hygiene under the microscope. Will I like what I see? That depends on how seriously you take the subject!
Although personal cleanliness is absolutely essential to your well-being, there are, in fact, just two basic rules that account for most of your hygiene related health, and that of others you live with – regularly washing your hands and covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
Dirty hands and uncovered snouts are undoubtedly the main transmitters of germs and viruses in the home. You should always wash your hands in hot, soapy water after a bathroom visit, before handling food, before and after cleaning up a young child and after you've been out – whether it's a trip to the grocery store or a gardening session in the yard.
Actually, there's quite an art to washing your hands properly. The Centers for Disease Control offer very useful guidance on their website cdc.gov. Just search for "handwashing".
Plus, of course, if you cough or sneeze into your hands, you need to wash them then. But for preference, always carry a handkerchief or facial tissues with you. Please don't sneeze onto your sleeve!
These simple rules are important to pass on to youngsters, who always seem to forget the basics – like brushing their teeth. Which reminds me, oral hygiene – brushing, rinsing, and flossing – is as important to me as keeping my hands clean.
That's not just for the benefit of those within "breath range" but also because the human mouth is where all the food bacteria and germs meet daily for a party!
The other side of the hygiene story lurks in your bathroom and kitchen. Keeping a clean bathroom is easy, with bleach and other household cleaning products (remembering my earlier advice about storing them out of reach). The more that room is used, the more you use them.
The kitchen is a different story. All sorts of creatures, masquerading under the posh title of "micro-organisms" lurk on counter-tops and dishes, in the dishwasher, toaster, stove and refrigerator, and just about anywhere else where food has been.
The problem is that you can't just splash toxic cleaning products about, where they might come into contact with food, though there are a number of products on the market that can kill bacteria without harming you.
But I thought I'd just run you through my own checklist of kitchen hygiene tips. Again, it's not exhaustive but it does have you covered for most dangers.
• When you're preparing food, if you have long hair, tie it back or cover it. Remove jewelry.
• Wash and thoroughly rinse your hands before doing any kitchen work (including cooking); dry them on a paper towel.
• Clean all cooking utensils and work surfaces with an antibacterial agent (read the instructions) before and after using them. If you wash and dry dishes by hand, leave them in a drying rack rather than wiping with a tea-towel.
• Use several cutting boards, scrubbing them and using hot water after you're done. Certainly, use a separate board for meat. Plastic boards can go in the dishwasher and should be regularly replaced.
• Know and apply the minimum temperatures for cooking foods.
• Same goes for refrigerator, freezer and open-air storage times of different foods. Store meat and vegetables separately. Return unused food to the fridge or freezer as quickly as possible.
• Always wash fruit and vegetables before preparing or cooking them.
• If you use a spoon or fork to taste food as you cook, don't use it again until it's been thoroughly cleaned. Use another one instead.
• Hot-wash and frequently replace scrubbing brushes and sponges.
• Food: If it doesn't look right or smell right, then it probably isn't. Toss it!
Where I suggest finding relevant information about temperatures and storage, if this information is not on the label (or there's no label) you'll find it, and other useful information, on the Government's foodsafety.gov site.
Oh, and one final thing. Please keep kids and animals out of the kitchen. When they are there, they're at risk, and so is your kitchen hygiene. And don't wash pet dishes along with your own stuff!
Insuring house and health risks
As I said at the outset, there's no way you can avoid every possible safety and health risk that crops up in your home. That's why we have insurance. It's an absolutely essential part of healthy and safe lifestyle.
In the final chapter of this book, I'll be talking in more details about how best to cover your insurance needs in key risk areas. But just let me say for now that if you have an insurance-related question to the points I've outlined in this chapter, please don't hesitate to contact your insurance agent.
You can always contact us at Mosaic Insurance Alliance LLC at 425.320.4280.
373 Ways To Shop Smart For Insurance
By Paul Pukis
September 26, 2013
Introduction - from the book Protect Yourself! An Insurance Agent Reveals 373 Way to Protect the Safety and Well-being of What Matters Most to You...Yourself, Your Family, Home, Business - and Practically Everything Else. - By Paul Pukis and Amy Drewel, Mosaic Insurance Alliance LLC
We live in an age of rapid change and deepening uncertainty. Perhaps more than ever before in our lifetimes, we have no idea what tomorrow will bring. But one thing we do know is how much we want to protect those things that are precious to us – our family and friends, our homes and other property, and our own well-being. That, at least, is a constant in our busy lives. This is where insurance comes into play. From home insurance to protect your shelter and all the items you hold dear to car insurance to make sure you stay financially sound in an accident, you have choices. Imagine the choices you have to make as a business owner. Along with the personal insurance options, you have an entire additional world to protect. There is business insurance to handle your General Liability Insurance and, if needed,Commercial Property Insurance to take care of what you own. Add in the need for commercial auto insurance for the one pickup you use for your contractors insurance or the fleet of vehicles for your janitorial insurance needs, you have concerns and we get that.
Oftentimes, safekeeping is a matter of commonsense. But in the hectic whirl of life or the heat of the moment, commonsense can fly out of the window and we end up doing things that may not turn out to be for the best. That is why it pays to think ahead – to take precautions before trouble confronts you and to gain the knowledge that will help you keep a level head if it turns up.
Above all, it seems to me after considerable experience of helping others to do just that, there are five vital things that you need to do to protect yourself and your precious ones most effectively.
1. Make the time to review and understand the risks that surround you. Don't put it off to another day. It needn't take long and you can do some of it from the comfort of your favorite armchair, with pen and paper.
2. Take the appropriate action to minimize those risks. Often, this does not need to cost much, or indeed, anything.
3. Be prepared to deal with a crisis in a calm and intelligent manner. You can do this if you already know what you will do if an emergency does arise.
4. Let others – your kids, your partner, your employees or work colleagues – know how important these things are, what you've done to protect them and what they should do to protect themselves.
5. Insure yourself against the threats to the safekeeping of your family, your prosperity and your property.
This book can help you do that. I don't claim that it has all the answers but I have also signposted other sources to provide the additional information that will add further to your understanding and knowledge. Where I mention these in the main text, you will find more contact details in the special section at the back of the book. I have drawn not only on these sources but also on a lifetime of experience of dealing with many of the issues covered here. So often, I encounter people whose guiding principle seems to be: "It won't happen to me." But it did.
Now here's the good news. This isn't a gloomy book. From time to time it might even make you smile – and that has to be good. It is packed with easy-to-understand information and helpful checklists that can help improve your life, from security and accident prevention to personal health and key insurance topics. It pinpoints the danger spots in your home, highlights special safety needs for vulnerable people like children and seniors, provides advice on how to plan for and cope with emergency incidents big and small, and explains what you need to know about food safety. It also provides guidance on workplace safety, spotlights the dangers on our roads and highways, helps you stay safe on vacation, and alerts you to the main scam tricks that con artists might try to pull on you.
There's useful information on personal health – covering issues like diet, nutrition, exercise and medications, while, throughout the book you'll find helpful fact panels, tips, worksheets and a couple of quiz-type challenges to set you thinking about the issues.
My role in providing solutions does not, of course, end there. The final chapter focuses on the key issue of insurance. Again, the intention is to provide an overview of some of the most important types of insurance and offer some initial guidance on how to establish the types and coverage you need. The fact is that, without insurance, you cannot minimize the impact of the risks every one of us – from a new born baby to the President of the United States – faces.
These days, the insurance business is increasingly complex and intensely competitive. It's easy to go online and shop around for a policy but, unless you're an expert, the chance of finding exactly what you need at the right price is quite remote. All too often, people find themselves "comparing apples with oranges" and making decisions based simply on cost, only to discover in their time of need that they don't have the cover they thought they did.
The Internet is a fantastic source of information and, as I have said, you can discover a lot more about safety and health issues right there on your PC. But who is there to discuss your very specific needs, to provide customized policies that precisely fit in with your individual requirements and your budget, to know exactly who offers the best policy and rates, and to advise you on how to adjust your cover as your needs change?
Your knowledgeable insurance agent is here for you, to do that. Your well-being and your protection are my concern … as you will see in this book.
If you would like a complementary copy of our book, please let us know! You can always reach us at 425.320.4280 or SuperAgent@MosaicIA.com.