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How to Protect Your Home When You’re Traveling.

Posted on: July 15th, 2015 by Access Home Insurance No Comments

Here are some helpful tips to keep your home and valuables safe from burglary and/or vandalism so you can leave your worries behind.

  • Don’t let your landscaping camouflage a break in. Make sure doors and widows are not obscured by trees and shrubs. Keep shrubs trimmed below window level and trees trimmed away from your house.
  • Don’t let mail, newspapers or packages pile up while you’re gone. Accumulations of such items signify a vacant property. Either ask a neighbor to bring in your mail, papers and packages or arrange to have the deliveries held or stopped for the duration of your trip.
  • Check your alarm system and notify the company that monitors your fire and burglar alarms that you will be away.
  • Make sure your sprinkler system is working properly.
  • Bring ladders and tools inside so they can’t be used to gain entry into your home.
  • Buy a timer for your lights and set them to go on and off in a different rooms at different times of the day.
  • Leave a key, itinerary, alarm code and phone numbers with a trusted neighbor or friend.
  • Check and lock all windows and doors prior to departure
  • Lock your garage and pet doors.
  • Don’t hide a spare key in an obvious place (like under the mat).
  • Download an app, such as iCam, available for Andorid and iPhone to link webcams (installed on most desktop and laptop computers) to the app. This will allow you to monitor inside your house from your smartphone.
  • Do not broadcast that you are away on social media.
  • When you get back from your trip, be sure to inspect your home. Look for signs of entry or missing items. If you notice anything unusual, call the police immediately

 

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Helpful Tips to Prepare Your Home for Spring Storms

Posted on: April 16th, 2015 by Access Home Insurance

We’ve all heard the quote, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” And those words certainly ring true when it comes to preparing your home to withstand the often crazy spring storm season. Taking just a few preventative measures now can save you from dealing with substantial damage later.

roof gutter with leavesNow that warmer temperatures are here and homeowners are thinking about spring cleaning and projects around the house, it’s an ideal time to take steps to prevent storm damage to your home. Here are a few tips to prepare for the stormy season ahead:

1. Identify any existing roof or siding problems: A licensed contractor can inspect your roof for missing shingles and possible leaks and do any repair work if necessary. It’s also a good idea to inspect and reinforce any loose siding, which can quickly rip off during high winds.

2. Use shredded bark mulch as landscaping material: If you have rock or gravel landscaping, it’s a good idea to replace it with bark, which won’t cause damage if blown around in high winds.

3. Maintain trees and shrubbery in your yard: Spring is the perfect time to remove dead or weak branches or remove trees that could fall on your home during a storm. Check trees and shrubs regularly to identify potential problems.

4. Ensure gutters aren’t loose or clogged: Clear your gutters of debris and make sure they are tightly attached to your house. Strong winds can quickly tear loose gutters from your home and cause damage. Also, it’s important to make sure downspouts are positioned away from your home’s foundation to help prevent basement flooding.

5. Secure top-heavy furniture: Don’t forget about the inside of your home too. Walk around your house and secure large, top-heavy pieces, such as bookcases, to the wall.

Now it’s time to follow through and take action. We have been fortunate that the last two years have produced quiet hurricane seasons in the tropical Atlantic. And according Colorado State University researchers, this year also looks to be quiet. However, we all know that forecasts are subject to change and it’s always important to be prepared.

Of course, sometimes careful prevention and planning can’t withstand the wrath of Mother Nature. An Access Home Insurance Company policy provides coverage for most severe weather-related losses – other than flooding. A separate policy to cover flood damage is available. If your home does sustain damage during a storm, contact your insurance agent.

For information on our claims process or to submit a claim, visit the Claims page.

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Six Important Questions Homeowners Should Ask Their Insurance Agent

Posted on: April 2nd, 2015 by Access Home Insurance No Comments

insurance agentPurchasing a house is one of the biggest financial commitments you will ever make. Homeowners insurance is one important part of the process. It’s imperative that you’re protected from loss, but you may be a little unclear what’s involved and what options are available to you. That’s where an insurance agent can help. Your agent can help you understand how much coverage you need and what type of policy is best for you.

As you get started on your home buying adventure, here are six questions you should consider asking your agent. While not all six questions may pertain to your situation, the answers your agent gives will help determine the best home insurance policy for you:

  1. How much would it cost to rebuild my home in its current condition and location if it were a total loss?
  2. Are rates affected by the type of construction on my home?
  3. How much would I need to replace personal belongings if they were destroyed?
  4. What discounts are available? What other ways can I reduce my premium?
  5. And for those of you who have dogs. . . I have a dog whose breed is considered ‘vicious’. Am I able to obtain coverage for dog bites? Access Home Insurance provides insurance coverage for breeds classified as ‘vicious’, including Pit Bulls, Dobermans, and Rottweiler’s. Policies exclude animal liability however, allowing policyholders to secure homeowners insurance coverage and keep their pet.
  6. And in this very fortunate case . . . I have a home with a pool and a diving board. Can I get coverage? Homes having diving boards are eligible for coverage from Access Home Insurance. However, liability coverage associated with the diving board is excluded.

In addition, buying a home in a coastal state can provide another set of challenges. Depending upon where you home is located, you may need to purchase flood insurance for added peace of mind. Access Home Insurance also offers flood insurance. Your agent can provide you with details on this product as well.

If you don’t already have an agent visit us at www.accesshomeinsurance.com to locate an Access Home Insurance agent near you.

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Are You Ready to Spring Forward?

Posted on: March 4th, 2015 by Access Home Insurance No Comments

Spring Forward 2015 Banner

It’s that time again and for most of us in the United States we are ready to change those clocks and welcome spring with a big warm hug! On Sunday, March 8 at 2:00 a.m. daylight savings time begins and setting those clocks forward means it’s time for a seasonal safety check.

As you make the rounds in the house setting clocks ahead, make time for a short safety checklist of other items in your house that may need attention.
Green Check 2Change the clocks, change the clock batteries.

Green Check 2Change smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries.
Safety experts recommend replacing smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries twice a year–so celebrate Time Change Sunday with fresh batteries all around.

Green Check 2Check/replace fire extinguishers.
Every home should have at least one fire extinguisher in the kitchen. Fire extinguishers can become useless over time so now is the time to test and replace it if needed. If you don’t have a fire extinguisher in your home, you should get one as it can save you money on your homeowners insurance premium.

Green Check 2Replace light bulbs.
Consider replacing conventional bulbs in your home with energy-efficient compact fluorescent or LCD bulbs. The U.S. Environmental Protection estimates that replacing standard bulbs with energy-efficient ones saves over $30 in electricity costs over their lifetime.

Green Check 2Check the first-aid kit.
Replace any missing supplies in your first aid kit.

Green Check 2Check plumbing.
Daylight Savings Time is an excellent opportunity to check under sinks, toilets, in the basement, behind your washer, shower/tub, and other household plumping to make sure you don’t have even a small leak.

Green Check 2Review your family emergency plan.
If an emergency strikes, will your family know what to do? Review your family’s emergency plan, or create one for the first time. Hold a meeting with family members to explain what to do and where to go in case of an emergency. Update phone numbers, addresses and contact information, and post an emergency information page near the phone.

Learn more about what your family needs to know in case of disaster or emergency by visiting redcross.org, FEMA.org or ready.gov.

Green Check 2Review your homeowner’s insurance policy.
Now is a great time to review your homeowner’s policy with your agent to ensure you have the coverage needed to protect you, your family and your belongings. To begin, it is important to know what your policies cover and don’t cover. For a review of what is included in a standard insurance policy, read our article on “How Well Do You Know Your Insurance Policy?”

Your agent can also help evaluate your coverage. If you don’t currently have an Access Home Insurance residential homeowner’s policy and would like more information, ask your agent or go to Find an Agent on our website.

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Protect Your Home from Water Damage

Posted on: February 10th, 2015 by Access Home Insurance No Comments

Water Image
Water damage is a serious threat to homeowners. Surprisingly though, the most common cause of water damage claims isn’t hurricanes or thunderstorms but water leaks inside the home.

Last month, we highlighted the importance of keeping your pipes from freezing, however there are other trouble areas within your home, that if not properly maintained, can also lead to water damage.

Here are the most common culprits:

Water Heaters:

Water Heater PhotoAccording to a study by the Institute for Business and Home Safety1 nearly 75 percent of all water heaters fail before they are 12 years old. A leak in your water heater can cause significant damage to your home. The water supply is endless as most tanks are designed to continuously fill.

Fix: If your water heater is over 10 years old, consider replacing it. Otherwise, flush the tank to remove sediment and debris on an annual basis. You can easily do this by hooking a garden hose to the drain valve and drain the tank until the water coming from the hose is clear. This will not only help the unit heat more efficiently but also operate more quietly.

 

washing machine photoWashing Machine Hoses

Inadequately maintained washing machine hoses can leak or burst, flooding your home.

Fix: Replace rubber hoses with stainless steel braided hoses. While these hoses aren’t entirely leak proof, they are more reliable. Also, consider installing a washing machine valve shutoff kit. These kits have a sensor that is mounted to the floor which will detect the presence of liquid and shut off the water valve.

 

 

 

Dishwashers

Clogged drains or improperly maintained drain hoses can cause water to back up and leak. Opening your dishwasher after it runs through a wash cycle to discover water remaining in the tub is alarming. While about 1 to 2 cups of water remaining in your dishwasher tub is normal, water that floods the bottom indicates the dishwasher isn’t draining properly.

Fix: No more than 1 to 2 cups of water should remain at the bottom of the dishwasher after running a wash cycle. If more than this exists, check the pump, which is in the bottom of the dishwasher, for food, paper or other debris that might beobstructing drainage. Remove anything blocking the drain. Most dishwashers drain into the kitchen sink or a garbage disposal. Make sure these drains are clear.

Other Trouble Spots:

A partial clog in your toilet or bathtub can be a problem. Make sure to keep these drains clear as well.

Don’t assume that you will see a leak whenever there is one. Sometimes leaks occur at the joints between pipes in your walls. It is a good idea to know where the main water shut-off valve is in your home so you can turn off the water source should a leak occur.

Clean-up:

If your home does sustain water damage, it is important to start the water damage cleanup immediately. Moisture promotes the growth of mold and other organisms, increasing the risk for serious health problems. Cleaning up immediately can help mitigate the health effects of those in the home as well as prevent further damage and expense for repairs.

water restoration photo

Hiring a water damage restoration company can make the cleanup process easier to handle, as these companies employ experienced workers who know the best ways to repair or replace damaged items and help with water damage cleanup.

Most homeowners insurance policies provide coverage for this type of water damage. Review your policy or check with your agent to make sure you understand what is covered.

Resources: 1Institute for Business and Home Safety

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