How To Prevent Fires When Using Space Heaters

space heater

space heater“The weather outside if frightful, but the fire is so delightful”…well not all of us have a fire place, but a space heater will make due. Supplemental heating, such as space heaters, is the leading cause of house fires from December through February. They are the second leading cause of home fires year-round. 

How Can You Keep Your Home Warm And Safe?

To help avoid a home fire, and a homeowners insurance claim, keep these safety tips in mind this winter:

  • Do not use space heaters to warm bedding, cook food, thaw pipes or dry clothing. These tasks can present major fire and burn risks.
  • Only use space heaters with the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) safety mark. The UL signifies that the produce was tested for potential safety hazards. Also, purchase units that have automatic shut-off features and heading element guards.
  • Purchase units with automatic shut-off features and heating element guards.
  • Keep sources of fire at least 3 feed away from heater, including drapery, clothing or bedding.
  • Turn off space heater when leaving the room to prevent burn injuries.
  • Periodically check for frayed insulation, broken wires and overheating. Have your space heater serviced immediately if you notice any of these problems.
  • Use only fuel recommended by the manufactures for liquid-fueled space heaters.
  • Avoid using extension cords with space heaters. If you must do so, make sure that the cord is the right gauge size and type for the heater.
  • Avoid placing space heaters in high-traffic areas of your home. Units with long cords can present a tripping hazard. 

Following the above safety precautions can help you have a warm, safe winter. After all, you families comfort and safety are surely a top priority. 

At Rinehart Insurance we do more than help you prevent claims. Call us today to discuss all of your insurance needs.

Most Important Tips For When You Rent Out Your Home

rent out your home

rent out your homeYou’ve made the decision to rent out your home. Whether it’s because you will be gone for an extended period of time or you have bought a new one, this is a big decision. But just because you no longer live there, doesn’t mean you no longer need insurance on the property.

Points to remember when you rent out your home

  • Ask for references from potential renters, especially those that will stay for a while.
  • Draw up a rental agreement that defines the terms of the rental, including restrictions, liabilities and occupancy guidelines.
  • Request a security deposit that is to be refunded if there is no damage to your home.
  • Advise your agent that you plan to rent out your home and ask about how this may affect your current coverage.
  • Consider hiring a property manager to look out for your home if you are renting for a long period of time.
  • Set aside a secure place in your home to store personal items, such as clothing and valuables.
  • Take pictures of all areas of your home before the rental takes place in case damage occurs while you are away.
  • Have your mail forwarded or held until you return.
  • Provide your contact information to both the renters and your neighbors in case of an emergency.

Renters Insurance

When a renter purchases renters insurance that only covers their personal belongings. You, the property owner, still need to cover the property. Liability coverage is also available for you to purchase you in the event someone would get injured.

When you decide to rent out your home, your #1 priority is protecting yourself. Do you need help making sure your coverage is enough? Give us a call today

4 Tips You Need To Know When You Do Winter Vehicle Storage

Vehicle Storage

Vehicle StorageWhen winter comes and brings the snow and cold with it, it’s time to think about vehicle storage. You should store your recreational vehicle – or any vehicles that won’t be in use – to avoid damage from the harsh weather and roads and to ensure it’s in good working condition for spring.

Use these tips if you plan on vehicle storage this winter:

  1. Clean your car—Thoroughly cleaning your vehicle inside and out not only makes it look nicer, but also prevents dirt and acidic materials from eating away at your car and causing it to rust.
  2. Change the fluids—Having clean oil, fuel stabilizer and brake fluid, and a full tank of gas will help protect your car while it’s in storage and will help it run smoother when spring comes.
  3. Protect your car—The best way to prevent the winter elements from damaging your vehicle is to keep it covered, whether it’s in your garage, a local storage facility or at a family member’s home. If you plan on keeping your vehicle outdoors, consider using a weatherproof car cover.
  4. Check tires and brakes—Inflate your vehicle’s tires to their maximum air pressure, so they can slowly deflate as the temperature drops. Also, don’t engage your parking brake as it may become frozen. Instead, use chocks (wedges placed under car tires) to ensure your vehicle doesn’t roll away.

Start it Up

Even in storage, it’s wise to start your vehicle periodically for 10-15 minutes to get the proper oils and coolants running through it. If your vehicle has a cover on it, remove it and roll down the windows before running. If your vehicle is stored in the garage, ensure that the garage door is open and the windows are down for proper ventilation before starting your car.

Thanksgiving Turkey Preparation Safety Tips You Need To Know

Thanksgiving

ThanksgivingThanksgiving will be here before we know it and chances are you’re already planning your menu. Everyone loves the green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, and lets not forget the main star…the turkey! But there are a few thinks to keep in mind when preparing your turkey this Thanksgiving.
  • Thawing – There are three safe ways to thaw food: in the refrigerator, and in a microwave oven.
  • Preparation – After preparing the turkey, thoroughly wash your hands and disinfect utensils or surfaces to avoid bacteria from the turkey spreading to other foods.
  • Stuffing – The safest way to prepare stuffing is to cook it outside the turkey in a casserole dish. However, if you prefer to cook the stuffing in the turkey, do so just before cooking, and use a food thermometer. Make sure the center of the stuffing reaches a save minimum internal temperate of 165 degrees F.
  • Cooking – Be sure the turkey is completely thawed, and set the oven a minimum temperate of 325 degrees F. Make sure the stuffing, breast, thigh, and wing joint reach a safe minimum temperature of 165 degrees F.
  • Rest –  When finished, let the turkey stand 20 minutes before removing all stuffing from the cavity and carving the meat.
As long as you follow the above steps you will have a safe and delicious turkey! If you cook your turkey other ways such as smoker or deep fryer ensure you follow proper instructions for each device and keep a safe distance from your home or other structures. No one needs a homeowners insurance claim during the holidays.

Do I Have To Pay If A Tree Falls On My House?

tree falls

tree fallsEvery year, storms are responsible for knocking over or breaking off limbs of numerous trees. Unfortunately, sometimes, a limb or tree falls on our house or other property. Cleaning up the damage from a storm can be a difficult task, both physically and emotionally. And things can become especially tense when you discover that it’s your neighbor’s tree that damaged your house.

To make matters worse, many homeowners are surprised to discover that if a neighbor’s tree falls on their house, it’s usually their own homeowners policy—not their neighbor’s—that will cover the cost of the damages. What follows are general guidelines for who pays what in various situations. However, you should also check your homeowners policy for coverages and exclusions. (Click here to learn more about homeowners insurance policies)

Your Property, Your Policy

Generally speaking, if your property is damaged, you are responsible for the damages. It doesn’t matter if the tree or limb came from your property, your neighbor’s property or even municipal property. Keep in mind that a windstorm isn’t anyone’s fault; it’s an act of nature. If a tree does damage your property during a windstorm, your policy will cover the damages. After all, that’s why you purchased a homeowners policy. To protect yourself against unforeseen losses like a tree damaging your house.

Their Property, Their Policy

It might seem unfair that if it’s your neighbor’s tree that damages your home, you should have to pay. Fortunately for you, that standard applies both ways. If a storm rolls through and your tree falls and damages your neighbor’s house, his or her insurance is going to cover the damages.

Negligence and Liability

So far, these scenarios have been fairly straightforward. But what happens when it wasn’t a storm that made the tree fall? Instead, your neighbor’s tree was hollowed out from years of disease, and he’d neglected to do anything about it. In fact, it was so diseased that you expressed your concern to your neighbor that it might topple over and damage your property. Unfortunately, one day, that’s exactly what happens. What then?

Your insurance carrier is still going to be the one paying your claim. However, if you can prove your neighbor knew that the tree was diseased and that he or she neglected to fix it your insurance carrier would probably attempt to collect from your neighbor’s insurance. If your carrier is successful, you could be reimbursed for your deductible.

Remember, though, this rule also applies the other way. If you have diseased or damaged trees on your property and they damage your neighbor’s house, he or she can try to prove your negligence. Your property is your responsibility. So it’s best to inspect your trees every year for signs of disease or damage. If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, consider having a professional arborist examine your trees.

Other Structures

If the tree doesn’t damage your house but instead damages your fence, are you still covered? Generally, you are. Most homeowners policies distinguish between two different kinds of structures on your property. The “dwelling” refers to your house and any attached structures (like an attached garage), as well as any fixtures attached to the house. “Other structures,” including detached garages, sheds, fences or gazebos, are also insured, but typically only for 10 percent of the coverage on your dwelling.

Vehicles

If, in the aftermath of a storm, you discover that a tree has fallen on your car, your homeowners policy doesn’t apply. Instead, you’ll be looking at your auto policy. If you have comprehensive coverage on your vehicle, your auto insurance carrier will pay for the damages, after you pay your deductible. The same rule would apply to a guest’s car. Hopefully, he or she took out comprehensive coverage, too.(Click here to learn about auto insurance)

Removal and Cleanup

What if the tree fell but didn’t hit anything? Would you be covered for removal costs? If the fallen tree blocks a path to your front door or driveway, then many homeowners policies would pay for removal. Generally, the maximum coverage is around $500. If the tree simply falls in the middle of your yard, your policy likely wouldn’t cover it. Unless the fallen tree damaged insured property, there is no loss to file a claim for.

Replacement

Replacing the trees themselves can be more complicated. Trees that have fallen due to wind damage may or may not be covered, so it’s best to check with your broker. Most policies offer limited coverage for trees that have fallen due to fire, lightning, explosion, theft, vandalism, malicious mischief or aircraft. Amounts and exclusions will vary. It’s important to read your policy and check with your broker if you have any questions.

Making Sure You’re Covered

Hopefully, your trees grow and endure. In the event that they fall, it’s important to know that you’re covered. Contact our office today to make sure that you have sufficient coverage for whatever might blow your way.

Should I Bundle My Insurance Policies Or Not?

bundle

bundleIf you’ve ever shopped around for insurance, you’ve likely been asked if you want to bundle your policies. In other words, combine your home or renters, auto and life insurance policies with the same carrier. Although you have the option to shop around individually for each policy, it almost always makes sense to have the same carrier cover as many of your policies as possible.

Click here to learn more about personal insurance options

Benefits of Bundling

  • The discount—Most policyholders bundle their policies because of the promise of a discount. The amount varies by provider but can generally range between 5-25 percent.
  • The option of a single deductible—With bundled policies, your deductible may be cheaper in the event of a claim that affects multiple policies. For example, if your home and auto policies are with two separate carriers, and a hailstorm damages your home and your car, you’re responsible for paying both your home and auto deductibles before receiving payment. But if you bundle your policies, your provider may offer you the option to pay only the higher of the two deductibles.
  • Less chance of being dropped—If you’ve made claims or gotten tickets, having your policies bundled with one provider can decrease the chance of them dropping you.

When It Doesn’t Pay to Bundle

It isn’t always better to bundle your policies with one insurance carrier. Here’s when it may be better to split them up:

  • If you have tickets or past claims that make your auto insurance expensive – In this case, it may be cheaper overall to buy each policy from separate providers.
  • When premiums increase—Bundling discourages people from price shopping, which makes it easier for providers to increase their rates. Most assume that you won’t go through the effort of shopping around when your policies renew.
  • If policies aren’t technically bundled—Some carriers may insure you with an affiliated company. Although you may get a discount with that company, you’ll lose the convenience of paying your premium with one familiar provider.

A Few Tips to Consider

Although discounts are the main reason people bundle their insurance policies, never assume that bundling is the cheapest option. Your needs and circumstances will dictate whether you should combine your policies with one carrier. Consider the following tips:

  • Shop for new coverage when your policies renew. Ask for the price of the individual premiums as well as the price of the bundled premium. Then you can decide whether it is worth it. Just make sure you compare the same coverage when shopping for quotes from each carrier.
  • Ask if the provider uses a third-party insurance company. Remember that you may save money but lose the convenience of dealing with one provider and a combined bill.
  • Ask an independent insurance agent to get prices from multiple companies so you don’t have to do the legwork. An agent that is loyal to a particular carrier may be able to offer discounts that you can’t get alone.

With multiple factors contributing to the price of your insurance premiums, it is important to shop around in order to get the best rate for your insurance needs. Feel free to contact us to determine if bundling is right for you and help you take advantage of all available discounts.

Are You Ready To Trick-or-Treat?

Trick-or-Treat

Trick-or-TreatFall is here, leaves are changing, and it’s almost time for many kid’s favorite holiday….Halloween. It’s a night you can pretend to be someone or something else. Have some spooky fun. And most importantly…trick-or-treat. Regardless if you are passing out candy or taking a small one around to trick-or-treat, you’ll want to know when everything is happening.

One of our local newspapers has a great article with the dates and times of many local trick-or-treat festivities. You can view that link by clicking here.

We hope you and your family have a great Halloween and enjoy your trick-or-treat events 🙂 

 

 

Halloween Doesn’t Need To Scare Your Bank Account

Halloween

HalloweenWhat do you get when you mix costumes, decorations, and candy? A Happy Halloween!!
Those that have children, probably feel the sting a little more while at the check-out. But Halloween doesn’t need to break the bank.

A few tips to keep in mind to help you save money

  • Buy bulk candy to get the most for your money.
  • Ration out how much you will give each Trick-or-Treater.
  • Buy pumpkins close to Halloween to get the best deal.
  • Make your own decorations – use leaves for stuffing in outside decorations, spray paint cardboard or cereal boxes for DIY headstones, or use cotton balls as cobwebs.
  • Make your own costumes or only buy what you have to.

Halloween Safety Tips

In addition to saving money, your family’s safety is extremely important. Costumes, trick-or-treating and pumpkin carving are all Halloween traditions. But there are also dangers associated with each of those activities. 

Costume Precautions 

  • Do not let children wear baggy or long costumes, as they are difficult to walk in and can be tripping hazards.
  • Purchase wigs, costumes and accessories that are fire-retardant.
  • Select face makeup and paint that is labeled as “FDA Approved” or “Non-toxic” to prevent allergic reactions.
  • Place reflective tape on your children’s costumes and candy buckets if they are going trick-or-treating at night.

Trick-or-Treat Safety

  • Remind children to walk only on the sidewalk and look both ways before crossing the street.
  • Do not allow children under 12 years old to go trick-or-treating by themselves.
  • Remind children to never approach or get into a car with a stranger offering them candy.
  • Once your children get home, inspect their candy.

Pumpkin Carving Tips

  • Only carve pumpkins on a flat surface with good lighting, such as a kitchen table.
  • Use a pumpkin-carving kit that includes tools appropriate for the task.
  • Place lit jack-o’-lanterns away from flammable objects such as sheets and curtains.

Having a good time does not mean spending a lot of money. Even on a budget you can have a spooky Happy Halloween! 

How To Stay Healthy And Avoid The Flu This Fall

avoid the flu

avoid the fluIt’s that time of year again. The leaves are changing, the temperature is getting cooler, and you’re doing everything you can to avoid the flu. No one enjoys being sick, but some of us are more prone to sickness than others. Knowing where you are most likely to come into contact with germs and what you can do to prevent sickness are key for this fall season. 

Germ Hot Spots

There are several “hot spots” to keep in mind when it comes to germs. 

  • Doorknobs
  • Light Switches
  • Elevator buttons
  • Water fountain handles
  • Microwave door handles
  • Telephones
  • Bathroom faucets
  • Handrails

These areas are high traffic areas that can be touched by numerous people. When you touch a doorknob you never know if the person who touched it before you sneezed into their hand and didn’t was it. Yuck! 

What You Can Do to Help Yourself Avoid The Flu

  • Wash your hands. Even if you are cautious of what you touch, there is a chance you’ve still come into contact with some germ. To protect yourself from illness, it’s important to wash your hands regularly, especially before you eat or after you cough, sneeze or use the restroom. 
  • Keep your distance. Illnesses can spread fast. Keep your distance from others who are sick. 
  • Get the flu shot. Yearly flu shots are the single best way to prevent getting sick. Contrary to popular belief, flu vaccines cannot cause the flu, though side effects may occur. Often, these side effects are minor and may include congestion, coughs, headaches, abdominal pain and wheezing. 
    • Did you know many health insurance plans cover the flu shot at 100% or a small copay? If you need help determining your health insurance benefits, we can help. Give us a call or click here or here to learn more about health insurance benefits.

Taking the extra time to wash hands and wipe down surfaces could mean the difference between a happy fall and an unpleasant fall spent on the couch sick. Stay healthy and do your part to spread the word to others. 

Old McDonald Had A Farm…And We Offer Coverage For It.

farm

farmOK so our title may be a little silly, but it’s true! We live in a pretty rural area so chances are you know someone with a farm or may even have one yourself. It could be cattle, crops, or even vegetables that you “raise” on your farm. And we all know how much hard work farmers put into their farms. But what happens if you have property damages or say an animal gets loose and you need liability coverage…are you covered? 

Insuring your Farm

Many companies offer Farm Insurance that provides property, liability, or even comfort coverage such as livestock insurance. Whether your large-scale or a small family farm, you have options. Don’t you want to know that all your hard work is protected?

You can click here to learn more about the available business coverage available. 

A few things to think about

Depending of your type of business, you may need to consider additional safety precautions

Do you: 

  • Have employees?
  • Work with livestock?
  • Use heavy equipment?
  • Have crops?

Depending on how you answered those questions, you may need to consider additional measures. Do you know our office has resources available to use with employees? We also can help you put a plan in place for risk management. 

Give us a call today to see what options we have available for you.