Using Fireworks Safely

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Watching a fireworks show is a truly magical experience at any age, whether you are at a local park or club, or making your own show in the backyard. If you are going to light fireworks on your own, there are special precautions you must take to keep your family safe as you celebrate.

Fireworks Safety Recommendations

  • Read and follow the manufacturer’s safety instructions and warnings.
  • Do not try to make your own fireworks; use only those that are commercially manufactured.
  • Only light fireworks outside in an open space.
  • Light one firework at a time away from others.
  • Obey local ordinances regarding private fireworks usage.
  • Have a bucket of water handy in case of emergencies.
  • If a firework does not go off, do not try to relight it. Instead, wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
  • Never light a firework in a glass or metal container.

Do not drink alcohol while lighting fireworks—they can pose burning hazards if you are not careful

Sparkler fireworks are especially fun for children. Once children are old enough, allow them to hold a sparkler under your guidance. Those who are younger than 12 years old should not hold sparklers and should remain spectators only.

 

Protection for Your Pets

Like thunderstorms or the vacuum cleaner, fireworks may frighten your family pets and cause them to shake, bark, howl, cry or hide as a result of the loud noises. In addition, some pets may even refuse to eat, drool excessively or lose control of their bladder or bowels.

 

To protect your pets from becoming stressed as a result of loud noises from fireworks:

  • Keep pets indoors away from loud noises in a place that is comfortable to them, such as a crate or favorite room in the home.
  • Hide fireworks and matches from pets so they do not chew or eat these items.
  • Allow pets to go to the bathroom before beginning your fireworks show to prevent accidents.
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Summer Yard Safety

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For many of us, summer means more than sunshine and vacations. It also means working in the yard – often with tools that can be dangerous if not used properly.

Each year about 400,000 people are treated for injuries from lawn and garden tools, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Don’t let your landscaping efforts land you in the hospital! Follow these handy safety tips.

Tool safety tips from the U.S. CPSC

  • Dress appropriately. To protect yourself from debris when using lawn tools, wear eye protection, long pants, long-sleeved shirts, close-fitting clothes and no jewelry. Sturdy shoes are recommended, and ear plugs may be appropriate depending on how loud the device is.
  • Before starting, remove objects from your work area that could cause injury or damage, such as sticks, glass or stones.
  • Keep children indoors and supervised at all times when any outdoor power equipment is being used. Never let a child ride or operate a garden tractor or riding mower, even if the child is supervised. And never assume children will remain where you last saw them.
    Use extreme caution when backing up or approaching corners, shrubs and trees.
  • Teenagers using power equipment should always be supervised by an adult.
  • Handle gasoline carefully. Never fill tanks while machinery is on or when equipment is still hot. Of course, you should never smoke or use any type of flame around gasoline or any gasoline-powered equipment.
  • Do not work with electric power tools in wet or damp conditions. For protection against electrocution, use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI).
  • Be sure that extension cords are in good condition, are rated for outdoor use, and are the proper gauge for the electrical current capacity of the tool.

Lawn Chemical Safety Tips from Texas A&M University

  • If you use chemicals to control weeds or pests in your lawn, read the product label carefully so you understand the potential effects on humans, animals and the environment. Follow all instructions.
  • Keep children and animals away from the application area, and protect your skin, eyes and nose during and after application.
  • Remember, use only the recommended amount. Using more of the chemical will not do a better job.
  • Ask yourself if you truly need to use a general pesticide. Is there a product that will specifically treat only the problem you need to solve?

From all of us at AssureSouth, here’s to keeping both you and your lawn healthy this summer!

It’s Boating Season!

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It’s Boating Season

Every summer, our team gets calls from customers after a fun weekend on the water takes a turn for the worse. Often, these accidents could have been prevented with just a few simple precautions. Here are a few tips we like – courtesy of our partners at Safeco.

 

Don’t let an accident wreck your fun!

 

Life Preservers Aren’t Just for Kids. It’s not enough to just have life jackets on board — wear them! In an accident, people rarely have time to reach for a life jacket. This rule applies to adults, not just children: More people in their 30s die in boating accidents than any other age group. Life vests have come a long way in style. Today, you can even get vests for your water-loving dog!

 

Watercraft Insurance

Most home insurance policies have limited coverage for boats. If you own a boat, watercraft insurance is your best bet: It covers theft, damage, and injuries or accidents while you’re on the water, as well as some of your expensive watersportsgear.

 

Watch the Back of the Boat. Carbon monoxide kills in minutes. So tell your passengers where your exhaust pipes are located and turn off your engine when people are in the water, and don’t let passengers “ski” or “teak-surf” by holding on to the back of the boat. Both Washington and Oregon made teak-surfing illegal in the last few years, after several tragic deaths. Carbon monoxide detectors are standard on most new boats; older boats install devices for less than $100.

 

Alcohol and Boating Don’t Mix. More than 50 percent of drowning’s result from boating incidents involving alcohol. You don’t drink and drive, so don’t boat and drive.

 

Boats Need TLC Too. When you’re out on the water, make sure your gas tanks are vented and bilges are free of vapors, oil, waste and grease. Carry a charged fire extinguisher. Have your boat’s operating systems checked yearly by a certified marine technician. The Coast Guard Auxiliary and United States Power Squadrons also offer free vessel safety checks.

 

Experience Counts! The U.S. Coast Guard says that operator errors account for 70 percent of all boating accidents. Make sure anyone who drives your boat is properly trained. You can also earn boat insurance discounts from Safeco and other insurers if you complete a safety course with the Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadrons.

 

Sites for Information:

Coast Guard: http://www.uscgboating.org

Coast Guard Auxiliary: nws.cgaux.org/

Safeco tips: http://www.safeco.com/insurance-101/consumer-tips/your-boat

 

Are the Limits of Insurance for your Home Accurate?

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Is the amount of property insurance on your home correct?

What is the appropriate amount of coverage for your home?

To begin with, it should be insured for at least 80 percent of its replacement cost when covered under a standard homeowners policy. Replacement cost refers to the amount necessary to repair or replace damaged building parts with items of like kind and quality. Some insurance companies even require 90 percent or higher figures when the guaranteed replacement cost option is offered. With this option, the policy pays the full cost of replacing your home, without any depreciation and often without a maximum reconstruction payment. (This gives you added protection if there is a sudden jump in construction costs due to a major shortage of certain building materials. Construction costs often “surge” following large catastrophes, such as hurricanes.) Note that guaranteed replacement cost coverage approaches can vary by state and is not even available in every state.

Many homes are either underinsured or overinsured. For example, some homes insured for long periods of time with one insurance company may have inadequate limits of insurance due to increased building costs. In many cases, homes have been remodeled and improved, and this information has not been conveyed to the insurance agent or company, resulting in severe underinsured home values. If your home is underinsured, you not only have inadequate protection for total losses, but you may also lack full protection for smaller losses.

Sometimes homes are mistakenly insured for their market value. However, market value is normally not indicative of the home’s replacement cost. For example, market value also reflects the cost of the foundation and the nondestructible land value, both of which normally survive intact if the house burns to the ground and has to be rebuilt.

In addition, some homes may be insured improperly to meet mortgage company requirements. Some mortgage companies require the amount of insurance be at least equal to the mortgage balance on the house. The mortgage balance is also not reflective of the home’s replacement cost, which is often considerably more but can also be less. Insurance companies and agents often struggle in properly educating mortgage companies about these distinctions, but there is nothing to prevent you from insuring to actual replacement cost if that is indeed greater than the mortgage balance. The problem occurs when the mortgage balance is greater than the replacement cost, which will result in the purchase of a higher limit than needed.

The bottom line is that you should work with your insurance agent to determine the correct replacement cost and resulting insurance limit for your home. Most agents use sophisticated replacement cost estimating packages that can fairly accurately determine the replacement cost value of your home. Factors that these programs use to determine this figure include the following.

  • Square footage of the home, including its configuration
  • Construction costs for your community
  • Exterior wall construction type, including frame, stucco, brick, or brick veneer
  • Style of home
  • Number of bathrooms and bedrooms
  • Roof type
  • Attached garages, fireplaces, built-in cabinets, and other special features, such as hardwood floors

The more advanced replacement cost estimating programs require detailed information to improve the valuation estimate. For example, a rectangular-shaped home with 1,800 square feet will have a much lower replacement cost than a similar-sized home with an “L” shape. In other words, the better cost estimating programs require information about the number of corners in the home. The more detailed information your agent asks about your home, the more confidence you can place in his or her recommended limit of insurance.

As a final note, you should request an annual review of your homeowners policy to keep up with increasing building supply and labor costs. Also ask your agent about the advisability of adding an “inflation guard” endorsement to your policy or about the availability of guaranteed replacement cost coverage to help assure that your home is properly protected.

 

Call us today to make sure you have the appropriate amount of coverage for your home! 864-582-5481

 

Information courtesy of International Risk Management Institute, Inc.

Take Steps to Prevent Dog Bites

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Did you know that dog bites cause nearly 800,000 injuries requiring immediate medical care in the United States each year? This statistic is based on a study conducted by the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. If your dog bites someone, you can be held legally liable. (Fortunately, this loss is normally covered by your homeowners policy.) However, there are steps you can take to reduce or prevent dog bites, including the following.

  1. Carefully consider dog breeds prior to selecting a pet. Some breeds have worse reputations than others, and a veterinarian can help you decide which breeds might best fit your lifestyle. Note that some insurers will not insure you for homeowners insurance if you have a breed that is viewed as more dangerous than others, such as a Pit Bull.
  2. Spay or neuter the animal as this often decreases the aggressive tendencies of dogs.
  3. Seek a veterinarian’s advice quickly if your dog becomes aggressive.
  4. Socialize your dog from an early age to encourage appropriate behavior.
  5. Never leave dogs alone with small children.
  6. Avoid aggressive games with puppies and dogs, such as tug-of-war.
  7. Do not place your dog in situations where he or she can be teased or feel threatened.
  8. Train your dog to obey commands.

There is one other loss exposure concerning dogs you should consider. You may face liability claims if your dog gets out into the road and causes or contributes to an auto accident. Homeowners can be sued for violation of leash ordinances by allowing their dog to “run at large.” Use a well-maintained and sturdy fence or other safeguards to reduce this exposure.

 

Copyright 2008, International Risk Management Institute, Inc.

All About Auto Insurance

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BI? UM? PIP? If you are trying to make sense of your automobile insurance options and the limits that you need, we can help. We’ve covered the basics to help you read and understand your coverage options and policy language.

Comprehensive and Collision

Collision Covers damage to your car when your car hits, or is hit by, another vehicle or other object. Collision pays to repair your vehicle, less the deductible you choose. For older cars, you may want to consider dropping this coverage, since it is typically limited to the cash value of your car. This coverage is not required by a state, but if you have a loan or a lease, then the lien holder will require it.

Comprehensive (Other Than Collision or OTC) Covers your vehicle, and sometimes other vehicles you may be driving, for losses resulting from incidents other than collision. This includes damage to your car if it is stolen or damaged by flood, fire, falling objects or animals. States do not require that you purchase collision or comprehensive coverage, but if you have a car loan, your lender may insist that you carry it until your loan is paid off.

Selecting Comprehensive and Collision Deductibles

Collision coverage is generally sold with a deductible of $250 to $1,000; comprehensive insurance is usually sold with a $250 deductible. Opting for a higher deductible is a way of lowering your auto premium. Remember, the higher the deductible, the more you’ll pay out of pocket if you have a claim. When deciding on a deductible that’s right for you, take into consideration your available cash, disposable income, the value of your vehicle and your tolerance for risk.

Liability Protection

Bodily Injury Liability (BI) – This covers injuries that you, the designated driver or policyholder cause to someone else. Claims for bodily injury include medical bills, loss of income, or pain and suffering. It does NOT cover the cost of damage to your vehicle, or to you or other people on your policy. It is mandatory in most states.

Property Damage Liability (PD) – Covers you or someone driving the car with your permission if the car damages someone else’s property. Typically, the property is another vehicle but it could be a fence, telephone pole, a house, etc. It also provides you with legal defense if another party files a lawsuit against you.

Medical Payments (MP) or Personal Injury Protection (PIP)This no-fault coverage providesmedical expenses to you and your passengers injured in an accident. Medical payments may also cover policyholders and their family members when injured while riding in someone else’s car or when they are hit by a car while on foot or bicycling. If you and your regular passengers already have health insurance that covers similar expenses, medical payments coverage may be unnecessary. Check your health insurance policy for details.

Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM or UIM) This coverage will reimburse you, a member of your family, or a designated driver if one of you is hit by an uninsured or hit-and-run driver. UM coverage comes into play when an at-fault driver has insufficient insurance to pay for your total loss. This coverage will also protect you if you are hit as a pedestrian.

Ways to Save on Your Auto Premium

  • Consider raising your deductible
  • Keep up your good driving record
  • Drive less to qualify for a low-mileage discount
  • Drive a car with safety features such as anti-lock brakes, airbags, etc.
  • Install an anti-theft device
  • Ask about our multi-policy discounts

Auto Policy Basics

An automobile insurance policy is designed to provide you with a level of protection against property, liability and medical costs if you are involved in an accident.

  • Property coverage pays for damage to or theft of your car.
  • Liability coverage pays for your legal responsibility to others for bodily injury or property damage.
  • Medical coverage pays for the cost of treating injuries, rehabilitation and sometimes lost wages and funeral expenses.

Selecting Liability Limits

Most states require car owners to purchase a minimum of bodily injury and property damage liability insurance. In the event of a serious accident, you want enough insurance to cover a judgment against you in a lawsuit, without jeopardizing your personal assets, such as your home and savings. By purchasing liability limits to account for both your current assets and future net worth, you can help protect yourself against this risk. We will help you select limits that meet your unique needs.

 

Insurance Deductibles- Check out this short video Deductibles 101