Home Renovations

If you’re planning a home renovation, you may want to call your insurance agent first because this decision can impact your homeowners insurance. Some home renovations will change the amount of coverage you need, while others could even help you qualify for a discount. We cover six common scenarios that could affect your insurance, so you can plan ahead.

1. Building a New Addition

When you expand and improve your home, you could likely increase its replacement value. This is the cost to repair or rebuild your home. Some additions that could increase your replacement value include: adding a second-story bedroom, expanding the living room or building a new garage.

After building a new addition, or making updates or other improvements, you may need to increase your coverage because the value of your home, and the cost to rebuild it will likely have increased. Most insurance companies require your Coverage A or dwelling coverage limit be at least 80 percent of the replacement value of your home.

Your insurance agent can recalculate your home value to determine whether you’ll need more coverage because of the addition or improvement.

2. Building a Pool

If you’re looking to add a pool, you will want to contact your insurance agent to review coverage for changes to your property’s value, as well as any increase in risk. When people are swimming and running around the pool, there’s the chance for an accident. If someone gets hurt, they could try to hold you responsible for damages. This can apply even if the accident isn’t your fault.

Check with your agent to see whether your existing policy covers a pool and if you need to increase your liability coverage. This coverage can help pay damages to injured persons and provide for a defense if you are sued as a result of their injuries.

You should also ask your agent what steps you can take to keep your pool safe so you can avoid accidents. Adding a fence with a lock is a smart move. You could also add lights with motion sensors or a pool alarm to discourage trespassers. Consider skipping the diving board, because this increases the chance of an accident and your insurance cost.

Travelers wants to help you protect the things that matter to you. We offer a wide breadth of products so you can be covered at home and on the road.

outdoor home renovation project

3. Adding a Deck

A new deck is another improvement that can add value but also risk, especially if the deck is attached to a second story or higher. You should let your agent know that you’ve added a deck, so he or she can adjust your policy as necessary.

4. Renovating the Kitchen

Upgrading the kitchen can significantly increase the value of your home, especially if you switch to higher-quality counter tops, appliances and new flooring. You should contact your agent to see if you need to increase your insurance coverage.If your contractor upgrades the plumbing or electrical wiring as part of the renovation, ask your homeowners insurance agent if you qualify for a discount or if your coverage needs to be adjusted. These upgrades can reduce the chance of flooding water damage and fire, so check if your insurance company has discounts that can help to reduce your premium.

5. Finishing the Basement

Finishing your basement can also increase the value of your home. That means, yet again, you may need more homeowners coverage. Flooding can be a concern, especially for the lowest floor in your house. It is important to note that most homeowners insurance policies do not cover damage caused by floods. Ask your agent to review your coverage and look to see if there are steps you can take to help prevent future damage, like installing a sump pump.

6. Redoing the Roof

Before you redo your roof, ask your insurance agent whether this could qualify for a discount. Some companies offer a discount when you reinforce the roof or use stronger roofing materials that are wind, hail and leak-resistant. Your agent can explain how to qualify. At the same time, redoing the roof could increase your property value, which means you might need more coverage.

It is a good idea to contact our client advisor when you’re considering making home renovations. Their knowledge and expertise can help you get the most out of your discounts while making sure your home is adequately insured.

Source: Travelers Insurance

Phishing and Cyber Attacks Spike Up While Working From Home

We have been seeing an increasing number of claims involving cyber attacks, viruses, malware, phishing and other situations where electronic systems are being compromised both by directed effort and innocent mistake. These incidents can cause loss or damage to electronic data, forensic expenses, loss of income, network security and privacy lawsuits, extortion losses, notification costs, and damage to your business’ reputation.  

Stay vigilant to protect yourself and your business from becoming a victim of a cyberattack. Most companies don’t believe someone would target them with a phishing attack. However, we’ve seen large and small businesses targeted, as well as increases in ransomware claims submitted under our Cyber coverage.
Most standard commercial insurance policies provide only limited (if any) coverage for these types of claims, and something as simple the use of email in your business can expose you to the risk of a breach or cyber event.   

We strongly recommend that each of our commercial customers take advantage of our free cyber security assessment provided by our partners at Fifthwall. With a small amount of basic information, this free report will provide a snap-shot of what a cyber event could look like for your organization and provide a strong starting point to understand how these risks may threaten your business.   

https://www.fifthwallsolutions.com/assessment/christie-associates

Thanksgiving Fails

TIPS FOR AVOIDING THANKSGIVING DINNER DISASTERS

With more people preparing their own dinners and staying home this year, Forbes Advisor developed 11 tips to have a safe experience.

  1. Keep your cooking area free of flammable materials like food wrappers, towels and oven mitts. If they’re too close to your stove, they could catch fire.
  2. Avoid wearing long sleeves and hanging fabrics that could come in contact with a source of heat.
  3. Don’t leave your kitchen when anything is being cooked on the stovetop.
  4. Stay at home while turkey and other items are being cooked in the oven, and regularly check those items.
  5. Be alert when you’re cooking. If you’re really sleepy or really tipsy, it’s smart not to be whipping up Thanksgiving dinner in the kitchen. “Cooking while overtired or under the influence is dangerous,” the NFPA warns.
  6. Keep children at least 3 feet away from the stove and other areas where hot food or drinks are being prepared or served.
  7. Set timers so you don’t forget to check on food.
  8. Test your smoke alarms to make sure they’re working.
  9. Never throw water on a grease fire that’s occurring in a pan on top of your stove. Instead, turn off the burner and cover the fire with a lid or larger pan to smother it.
  10. If a fire breaks out in your oven, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
  11. If you’re not sure whether you can safely fight a kitchen fire that has started, leave your house and call 911.

“The pandemic may limit the number of people in homes this year, but there will still be lots of the usual cooking and distractions that contribute to a sharp increase in cooking fires on and around Thanksgiving. Being vigilant in the kitchen remains critical to ensuring a fire-safe holiday,” said Lorraine Carli, a spokesperson for the NFPA, in a news release.

Pittsburgh Rain

Just one inch of water can cause damage to your home.  That’s why it’s important to insure your home with additional protection designed to cover you against water damages caused by flooding. 

Flood insurance covers the water that comes from a natural source and if two or more properties are involved. If you and your neighbors are all having water issues due to heavy rains and/or rising waters, then you are likely dealing with a flood insurance claim. Reach out to your client advisor if you would like more information regarding Flood Insurance. 

Pittsburgh’s 4th of July 2020

Summer looks a lot different this year. Communities across the Pittsburgh area have cancelled popular events, festivals and Fourth of July fireworks/gatherings because of COVID-19. A lot of people are looking for alternative celebrations right now, and below are some helpful resources.

Ultimate Spring Cleaning Checklist

Get the most out of your spring cleaning by using our spring cleaning checklist. When you’re cleaning, it’s important to use the proper cleaning solutions. It’s even more important to know that these cleaning solutions consist of chemicals and some combinations can be extremely hazardous to your health. Please do your research before using and combining any cleaning products.

Home

  • Change batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Check all electronics, make sure they are plugged in, cords are untangled and everything is plugged into a surge protector
  • Check expiration date on fire extinguishers
  • Change your air filter
  • Unblock all air vents
  • Clean bathroom fans
  • Sweep front porch and back deck
  • Store all winter items, clothes, and decorations
  • Disinfect all computer keyboards and mouse

Every Room

  • Wash Baseboards, door ceilings, window sills, doors, and walls
  • Vacuum and wash vents
  • Wash window treatments (drapes, etc.)
  • Dust blinds
  • Wash Windows – inside and out
  • Dust and shine overhead lights

Kitchen

  • Clean out pantry
  • Wash kitchen cabinets
  • Deep clean oven
  • Move fridge – vacuum and mop behind it
  • Vacuum coils on fridge
  • Deep clean fridge inside – wash outside

Living Room

  • Dust and wash any and all mirrors, frames, and decorative items
  • Vacuum all upholstery
  • Dust furniture and fixtures
  • Wash all throw pillows and blankets
  • Dust and polish furniture
  • Vacuum and shampoo carpets

Bedroom

  • Wash all bedding
  • Wash all bed and throw pillows
  • Flip Mattress – if using pillow top, rotate mattress
  • Purge anything stored you don’t want anymore

Bathroom

  • Clean and disinfect tub and shower
  • Wash bathmats
  • Dust and replace decorative items
  • Wash and/or replace shower liners and shower curtains

Other

  • Update all your house first aid kits and be sure to toss expired medication while sorting other medication
  • Donate clothes items to Goodwill, The Salvation Army, or other local community organizations

Juice Jacking

Juice Jacking

Juice Jacking is an invasion of your personal device by hackers as you are charging your battery. Criminals employ malware-injection and data extraction techniques through free chargers and public charging stations. Public places such as coffee shops, offices, airports, hotels and so many others offer public charging stations that most of us are often desperate to use them when our devices are low on power. This is where a new cyber attack vector called Juice Jacking comes into play.

The Protect yourself from Juice Jacking:

  • Carry a portable battery charger
  • Avoid USB-based charging stations in public spots and opt for an electrical outlet
  • If your only option is to use a public charging station, power off and lock your device

Reward Your Safe Driving Behavior

There seems to be a “smart device” for just about anything these days and the insurance industry is no different!  Insurance companies are offering safe driving monitoring systems to help reduce your automobile premiums.  Whether it be a plug in device, or a mobile application, your driving skills can be monitored over a period of time, typically over a 90 day period.  One vehicle or all your vehicles can participate in this program to maximize your total savings.  Discounts can range from 5%-30% reduction and you will have the capability to review your results along the way!

What driving habits are monitored:
-Time of day you drive.
-Amount of miles driven
-Hard Breaking & Rapid Acceleration

Give us a call to discuss so you can start rewarding your safe driving behavior!

What’s New in Car Safety Features

High-Tech Cars: What’s New In Car Safety Features by Travelers Insurance

High-tech cars are here to stay. Car safety technology is evolving quickly, bringing scores of often unpronounceable abbreviations for new systems that promise to keep us safer. Can a car read a street sign? Can the family wagon’s safety systems react to a sudden traffic change faster than a seasoned driver? Automakers say yes.

Established safety systems like Anti-Lock Braking Systems (ABS) and Traction Control  dates back to the late 1920’s when it was first developed for aircraft, although it wasn’t until 50 years later that this now nearly ubiquitous technology reached the highway. Technology is advancing faster now than ever before, bringing inventive new safety systems to your dashboard and automobile chassis. Let’s take a look under the hood of today’s high tech cars to see what some of the most intriguing new technologies offer and how they can make your commute safer and less stressful.

  • What Are Advanced Driver Assistance Systems? Often referred to as ADAS, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems offer a broad range of safety-enhancing features for vehicles. These systems range from sensors that can detect drowsiness in drivers to pedestrian detection and avoidance systems — or even onboard cameras that can read road signs, warning you about speed limit changes or stop signs via dash alerts.
  • Automatic Emergency Braking Systems (AEBS). Going a step beyond simpler and possibly distracting collision warning systems, AEBS puts the brakes on rear-end collisions. Sensors continually monitor the distance of vehicles in front of the car. If the system detects that a collision is imminent, it intervenes, assisting with braking if the driver is braking (but not hard enough) or automatically applying the vehicle’s brakes if the driver doesn’t respond. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that up to a third of police-reported crashes involve a rear-end collision.1
  • Lane Keeping Assist. Some of the leading reasons for lane-drift crashes are driver distraction, illness, and drivers who have drifted off themselves — and are sleeping at the wheel. Lane Keeping Assist raises the bar above Lane Departure Warning systems, which provide audible warnings and are often manually disabled by drivers, by taking corrective action to keep the vehicle centered in the lane.
  • Drowsiness Detection System. Building on the technology that powers Lane Departure Warning, Drowsiness Detection Systems monitor how often you drift from your lane, watching for changes in driving patterns that can indicate fatigue or microsleep, the type of sleeping that happens when you doze off momentarily. Microsleep in your recliner at home is safe. When driving, those seconds spent in slumber-land can be dangerous or even deadly. More advanced systems use sensors that watch the driver’s face and glance patterns for signs of drowsiness.
  • Pedestrian Automatic Emergency Braking. Warning systems that detect pedestrians (or bicycles) are becoming more prevalent but face the same challenge as many onboard warning systems. Audible warnings can be a distraction as you try to figure out what’s making that beeping sound — and why. More advanced systems use cameras or radar to detect pedestrians in your path and then automatically apply the brakes if you don’t respond quickly enough.
  • Traffic Sign Recognition. We’ve all had some moments of apprehension because we didn’t notice a stop sign or a street sign indicating a speed limit change. Fortunately, the new wave of high-tech cars remains ever attentive, and a growing number of vehicles can read the street signs that we might miss and then relay that information on the dash or head-up display.
  • Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communication for High Tech Cars. The NHTSA is studying Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) communication, specifically as it relates to two safety systems for cars: Left Turn Assist (LTA), which warns of oncoming traffic when turning left, and Intersection Movement Assist (IMA), which warns if it’s unsafe to enter an intersection.2 The NHTSA estimates that these safety systems, powered by cars that communicate with other cars on the road, could save over 1,000 lives per year.

Increased safety is the goal many of the advanced systems in cars now – and of those planned for the future. But the enhanced vehicle safety can pay dividends in other ways by helping to reduce accidents, sparing costly deductibles, while also keeping your driving record pristine. The safety features of today’s high-tech cars are as exciting as they are practical, and automakers are continually innovating to meet consumer demand. When it’s time to shop for a new car, ask about its ADAS features, for safety’s sake.

Insure Valentine’s Day Gifts

Buying something special for your valentine? If so, you may want to schedule it under your Homeowners Policy.

Although your Homeowners Policy provides some coverage for your gifts such as jewelry, paintings, and other collections, it limits how much you will receive for the item in the event of a loss. For example, if a valuable stone falls out of a jewelry item, there is no replacement coverage under the Homeowners Policy. For broader protection of your most valuable items, give us a call to discuss how you can protect their worth from unforeseen losses that may not be currently covered.