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You might already know that home fires cause more property damage and deaths in the United States annually than hurricanes, tornadoes or floods. Perhaps you are also aware that most home fires start from home heating equipment. But there are likely some newer facts about how fire spreads during a home fire that you did not know.

According to Jeff Rossen (of the TODAY Show), his research concludes that the time you have to escape a house fire today is 3-4 minutes compared to 17 minutes in 1985. Check out Rossen’s report – complete with video proof, and learn the reason.

To learn more about home fire safety including steps to take to avoid a fire, what to do if a fire breaks out and what to do just after a fire, visit the American Red Cross Fire Safety website. You will also find checklists for fire safety and developing a fire escape plan.

In “Protect Yourself From Home Fires”, ErieSense.com offers fire prevention safety tips about home heaters, electrical hazards and kitchen hazards as well as advice on selecting fire alarms and protecting your possessions.  Read the entire article to learn how to best protect yourself and your family from home fires.

Home Insurance Tip

The responsible thing to do is to take all precautions to prevent a fire and prepare your family with a plan of escape in case the unexpected does occur. However, you will also want to be sure that your Homeowners, Renters or Condo insurance policy provides strong coverage for fire damage long before you ever need it. A brief visit with your agent should assure you that you are sufficiently covered for your circumstances.

Relates to: Home insurance, homeowners, renters, condominium, fire prevention, fire safety, house

The Daniel C. Howley Insurance Agency in Rockville, MD, is a full-service insurance agency offering auto/car insurance, homeowners insurance, business/commercial insurance and life insurance to all of Maryland (MD) and Virginia (VA) since 1969. Our experienced insurance agents welcome your inquiries and are glad to discuss your coverage needs at any time.


Winter Home Protection Tip: Heavy Snow Threat

Ol’ Man Winter can take his toll on your home and business unless you take steps to protect your buildings from snow and ice damage.

Heavy snow accumulation can do damage even as it melts. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Blowing snow will typically accumulate on the leeward side of many roofs and should be removed to avoid damage to your roof. If you are unsure, consult a roofing contractor. 
  • Melting snow can result in costly moisture damage. See that snow is removed from outside stairwells, windows, and walls.
  • When snow melts on the roof and water runs down and refreezes at the much cooler roof's edge, it may cause damage to your roof. This is often caused by a warm attic. To be sure the attic stays cold in the winter, check the insulation level.

Insurance Tip

Well before damage occurs, be sure that your home is protected adequately with home owners insurance. Why not call your insurance agent for a policy review if you have any question.

Here at the Daniel C. Howley Insurance Agency in Rockville, MD, we are ready to help you review your home owners insurance policy at your convenience.  

Are you one of those lucky people with some extra cash on hand – perhaps several thousand dollars from some windfall like an inheritance or a bonus? Perhaps you're thinking of how to best make it work for you? Have you thought about how your choice might impact your insurance?

If you don’t need it for high-interest debt or to create that emergency fund you’ve always wanted, then you might consider paying off an auto loan, student loan, or even your mortgage. Since these are likely lower interest loans, you won’t save a lot on interest, but you could free up cash in your monthly budget that you can put to better use. But even if you can’t pay if off, the next best thing could be to pay it down. By reducing the loan principal, you can likely reduce your monthly payments.  For much more on this, read Jean Chatzky’s (Fortune Magazine), to learn why you should pay off loans sooner rather than later.

And if you do pay off your car loan or mortgage, then don’t leave your insurance agent out of the loop. You’ll need to remove the lender from your auto insurance or home insurance policy. Just as important is to let your agent know if you get a new loan for a car or a home. Get all the details in this article from ERIE Insurance.

Insurance Tip

If it has been some time since you sat down with your insurance agent to review your auto and home insurance policies, then why not arrange a meeting now? Among other things, it will let you be sure that your policies are not listing outdated information such as lenders on paid-off loans. This will help you avoid having a payment for an insurance claim go to the wrong party.

Tags:  Insurance claims, auto insurance, home insurance, mortgage, auto loan

The Daniel C. Howley Insurance Agency in Rockville, MD, is a full-service insurance agency offering auto/car insurance, homeowners insurance, business/commercial insurance and life insurance to all of Maryland (MD) and Virginia (VA) since 1969. Our experienced insurance agents welcome your inquiries and are glad to discuss your coverage needs at any time.


 

 

In addition to being a threat to your personal safety, lightning is responsible for devastating structure fires, deaths and hundreds of millions in damage expenses, as well. Do you know what time of day and month of the year most lightning occurs? It is worthwhile to know as much about this threat as you can so you are able to protect yourself and your family as well as your property.

ErieSense.com says: “From 2007 to 2011, local U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 22,600 fires per year that were started by lightning. These fires caused an average of nine civilian deaths and $451 million in direct property damage per year. Home fires accounted for 19 percent of the lightning fires.”

Read the entire article with video and infographic to find out what you need to know about lightning and lightning protection systems to minimize the chance of property damage from lightning strikes.

Homeowners Insurance Tip

Home fires accounted for 19% of all lightning fires between 2007 and 2011. Related property damage, personal injury and death were also reported. Is your home insured for such damage? Because we never know when lightning will strike, it is wise to consider speaking with your insurance agent to find out if your Homeowners Insurance coverage is sufficient to protect your investment and cover your liability.

Here at Daniel C. Howley Insurance Agency, we are a full service insurance agency, offering auto/car insurance, homeowners insurance, business/commercial insurance and life insurance to Rockville MD, all of Maryland and Virginia. Our experienced insurance agents welcome the opportunity to discuss your coverage needs and questions at any time.

 


 

Daylight Savings Time will soon come to and end, and those of us in the mid-Atlantic region will “fall back” to Eastern Standard Time. You might already know that many homeowners use the time change as a reminder to check their smoke alarm batteries as well. Here at the Daniel C. Howley Insurance Agency, we're all about safety.  So we urge you to get into the habit of changing your smoke alarm batteries as you reset your clocks marking the end of Daylight Savings Time to keep your family safe and protect your home from fire and smoke damage.  Moreover, this will help you to avoid homeowners insurance claims.

No one doubts the value of a reliable smoke alarm, but just having smoke alarms in your home isn't enough.It is important that they actually work if you are to be protected from fire damage.  Optimally, doing a quick check of your smoke alarms each month will ensure that they are ready to sound the warning should you need them.  Then, changing the batteries in each smoke detector at least once a year will ensure that they remain fresh and strong. 

Could a Smoke Alarm Stop Working?

There are a number of reasons that smoke alarms might stop working . If they have not been replaced in ten years or more, they could fail. More commonly, however, an alarm fails to detect fire and smoke because due to lack of power -- either a dead batter or disconnection from the power source.  In fact, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) warned in a September, 2015 report that about 3 out of 5 home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or non-working smoke alarms.

But My Smoke Alarm Will Remind Me, Right?

It is true that most smoke alarms alert you by beeping when the batteries need to be replaced. But relying on that warning is a bad idea for many reasons such as…

  • If you are not at home during the time the beeping alert occurs, you would likely not even know that your alarms are not working. This leaves your family and your home unprotected against fire.
  • Perhaps you'd be tempted to just stop the beeping by removing the batteries or disconnecting your smoke alarm, if you don't have replacement smoke alarm batteries ready when the alert occurs. Then, until you remember to reconnect the alarm, replace the batteries and get your smoke alarm working again, you have virtually no protection from the perils of fire in your home. 

Smoke Alarm Battery Facts

  • It is important to install the correct type of replacement battery as recommended in the alarm's instruction manual or label and follow all directions. Manufacturers of smoke alarms advise against using rechargeable batteries.
  • It is time to replace the entire smoke alarm unit if the alarm is producing frequent nuisance alarms. Don’t be tempted to just disconnect the battery to stop the nuisance alarms.
  • If your home has hard-wired smoke alarms with a battery back-up, that battery should be replaced every year just like the battery-powered units.  In fact, the only exceptions to the yearly-replacement rule are hard-wired smoke alarms without a battery backup.  If your smoke alarm is not hard-wired but does not have a replaceable battery, then the entire unit should be replaced at least every ten years.
  • You will also want to change the batteries in your carbon monoxide alarm at the same time that you change your smoke alarm batteries.
  • At the time that you change the smoke alarm batteries, take the opportunity to clean your smoke alarm, as well.
     
  • More About Home Smoke Alarms from the NFPA (Video) 
  • Smoke Alarms: Installation and Maintenance Tips

Here at Daniel C. Howley Insurance Agency, we are a full service insurance agency, offering auto/car insurance, homeowners insurance, business/commercial insurance and life insurance to Rockville MD, all of Maryland and Virginia. Our experienced insurance agents welcome the opportunity to discuss your coverage needs and questions at any time.

There is no doubt that winter is upon us. We try to stay warm while arctic blasts bring freezing temperatures to the region along with severe cold weather and even some snowfall resulting in icy conditions from melting and freezing. Such extreme weather can damage homes, and one major risk is frozen water pipes.

Even if you didn’t take steps to protect your pipes before winter set in by applying heat trace tape and insulation, draining hoses and outdoor pipes, sealing cracks, etc, there are still things you can do to try to prevent frozen water pipes in your home. This article from ErieSense.com (February, 2014) offers advice to help during this severe winter weather. See: “I didn’t freeze proof: can I still protect pipes?

A Few Chilling Facts About Frozen Pipes

The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety offers the following tips to keep in mind when it comes to frozen pipes.

  • Frozen water pipes are one of the biggest risks for homewners when the temperature drops below 32 degrees, and approximately 37% of all frozen pipe failures occur in a basement.
  • When a water pipe freezes, it could burst; and an opening of just 1/8-inch in a pipe could typically cause 250 gallons of water to escape in a day’s time.
  • A water pipe that ruptures due to freezing can lead to as much as $5000 in water damage.

Worst Case Frozen Pipe Scenario…

If, despite your best efforts, your pipes freeze, the Insurance Information Institute offers this advice:

  • If you discover that pipes are frozen, don’t wait for them to burst. Take measures to thaw them immediately, or call a plumber for assistance.
  • If your pipes burst, first turn off the water and then mop up spills. You don’t want the water to do more damage than it already has.
  • Make temporary repairs and take other steps to protect your property from further damage. Remove any carpet or furniture that can be further damaged from seepage.
  • Make a list of the damaged articles.
  • Call your agent or company as soon as you can. An insurance adjuster doesn’t need to see the spill before you take action. However, he or she will want to inspect any damaged items.
  • Save the receipts for what you spend—including additional living expenses if you must leave your home until repairs are completed—and submit them to your insurance company for reimbursement.

Homeowners Insurance Tip

The Insurance Information Institute tells us that standard homeowners policies will usually cover most of the kinds of damage that result from a freeze. For example, if house pipes freeze and burst or if ice forms in gutters and causes water to back up under roof shingles and seep into the house. You would also typically be covered if the weight of snow or ice damages your house. They advise checking with your agent or company so you’ll be sure what your policy covers.

Here at the Daniel C. Howley Insurance Agency, we are always glad to assist you when you have insurance questions or wish to discuss your insurance coverage.  Why not contact our office at your convenience or arrange for a no-obligation policy review right here online?

Avoiding Holiday Hazards

During the busy holiday season, there is never enough time for all that we need to do and remember. Along with the festivities, decorating, cooking, gift-giving and traveling, we still need to think, prepare and act to avoid those holiday hazards that can turn celebration into tragedy.

Common Holiday Hazards Are Preventable

Check out "Hazard Free Holidays" from Eriesense.com to learn about seven preventable hazards including holiday cooking, home decorating, heart attacks, slips and falls, outdoor fires as well as car and sledding accidents. The article offer tips and statistics from such sources as the NSC , NFPA , MADD and CPSC  to help all of us have a safe and happy holiday season.

Home & Auto Insurance Tip

As you prepare for the holiday season, don’t forget your insurance auto and home insurance protection. If you want the peace of mind to enjoy your holidays, consider taking a moment to review your policy with your insurance agent. The time to be sure that you are covered is well before you have to file a claim.

Here at the Daniel C. Howley Insurance Agency, we are always glad to assist as you consider your insurance options. Why not arrange a policy review or contact our office at your convenience?

 


 

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