To all of our valued clients, preparing for hurricanes can be the difference between minor damage and catastrophic loss. The following information is intended to guide you in your preparation.
Well in advance of hurricane season
1. Maintain a relationship with your roofer and contractor. Experience shows that these professionals are in high demand after a hurricane. Having an existing relationship can help facilitate a prompt response.
2. Verify that you have storm shutters to protect all openings, including doors, windows and skylights. French, sliding-glass and garage doors are particularly vulnerable to high winds due to their large size. Special attention should be given to protect them:
a. French doors should have at least three hinges per door and be reinforced with fastening bolts locking them together. Ideally, doors should open “out” to increase resistance against strong winds.
b. Replace sliding-glass doors with impact-resistant door systems.
c. Replace garage doors with structural ribs and a heavy-duty track system designed to withstand high winds.
3. Replace standard windows with impact-resistant window systems. Standard glass can be penetrated easily by debris; impact-resistant window systems are designed to withstand direct impact by wind-borne objects. They’re also permanent and won’t require pre-storm installation.
4. Have storm shutters and anchor bolts professionally inspected annually to ensure they perform as designed.
5. Check caulking around windows and doors to ensure no deterioration has occurred. This will help prevent wind-driven rain from coming in.
6. Prune weak branches and trees around your home, and remove limbs that overhang or are too close to the structure. Use hearty native plants in your landscaping design. Use mulch instead of pebbles around plantings (pebbles can cause damage in high winds).
7. When making repairs to your roof, verify that its structure and decking are appropriately attached (in accordance with the latest codes) to the framing members of your home. Also verify that rafters and trusses are adequately connected to the walls and foundations.
8. Install a back-up generator of adequate size to power air conditioning in your entire home, as well as critical electrical appliances and electronics (i.e. your alarm system). If water enters, air conditioning can expedite the drying process and help prevent additional damage. If you own a back-up generator, have it maintained annually and tested under load to ensure proper operation.
9. Make sure drains on terraces and balconies are not clogged and allow water to flow freely.
10. Discuss your insurance coverage with your agent or broker. Know what your hurricane deductible is and what your policy covers during a hurricane.
When a hurricane is forecast to hit your area
1. Install storm shutters and secure your garage door.
2. Move personal possessions to the center of your home, away from windows and doors. Elevate your belongings as much as possible in case water pools on the floor around windows and doors.
3. Remove window treatments from windows and French doors. In the event draperies cannot be removed, elevate or secure/encase the lower portion of drapes in plastic.
4. Roll up area rugs and move them to the center of your home. Elevate them if possible.
5. Place towels at the base of terrace doors.
6. Remove all patio furniture from your yard or terrace, and store it in your garage or house. Remove potted plants, lawn ornaments and sculptures and store them indoors.
7. Fill the fuel supply for your back-up electrical generator. Test the generator under load to ensure it is functioning properly.
8. Place important documents, i.e. insurance policies, bank account information, credit card information, important contact numbers, etc. in a plastic container to ensure their availability after the storm passes.
9. Have a 3 day supply of fresh water. (One gallon per person per day.)
10. Have a 3 day supply of non-perishable food.
11. Move all exterior lightweight objects such as lawn furniture, umbrellas, grills, toys and garbage cans indoors.
12. Have flashlights with charged batteries in case of power outage.
13. Unplug unnecessary electrical components in order to avoid a power surge damage.
14. Fully charge your cell phones.
After a hurricane
1. If you discover water in your home, contact a restoration company immediately to begin the water extraction process.
2. Run the air conditioner to dehumidify your home.
3. Remove any wet items and store them in the garage, if possible.
4. Call your agent or broker to report any damage.
In the event we are unable to be reached, please find a list of claims numbers directly to our carriers should you need such as well:
Ace Ins. Co. – 1-800-945-7461
American Commerce Ins. Co. (Mapfre) – 1-877-224-5677
AIG (Chartis) – 1-888-760-9195
Chubb & Sons – 1-800-252-4670
Cincinnati Claims – 1-877-242-2544
CNA – 1-877-262-2727
Fireman’s Fund – 1-800-870-8857
Hanover Ins. Co. – 1-800-628-0250
Hartford Ins. Co. – 1-800-280-0555
NatGen Claims – 1-844-287-2236
Progressive Insurance – 1-800 274-4499
Pure Ins Co. – 1-888-813-7873
Tower Group – 1-888-856-5522
Travelers Ins. Co. – Personal Lines: 1-800-252-4633
Travelers Ins. Co. – Commercial Lines: 1-800-832-7839
In case you suffer severe damage to your home and need immediate assistance, you may contact one of our preferred mitigation companies listed below:
BELFOR Property Restoration:
Ph: (646) 340-1010 Fax: (646) 340-1089
Total Restoration: (212) 689-5424
We hope that you find this information useful.
We appreciate suggestions and comments.
Mogil Organization, LLC will continue to remind our valued clients of any notice of cancellations that are mailed from the insurance companies in regards to a late payment.
When we receive the notice, we will contact our insured via email. In the event that we do not have an email address, the insured will be contacted via telephone.
The second contact will be made approximately 3 business days prior to the cancellation date.
***In the past, a second reminder was sent 10 days prior to the cancellation date, this will no longer happen.
It’s still not clear how severely Hurricane Matthew will affect South Florida, but it’s time to make sure you have the things you need in your home.
Don’t wait until the last minute because lines will be long and supplies short.
Assemble this now. Put aside in a special box. Keep heat-sensitive items inside home and rotate stock throughout season:
- Flashlights and extra bulbs
- Clock (wind-up or battery-operated)
- Battery-operated radio
- NOAA emergency weather radio
- Extra batteries
- Toilet paper
- Matches (camping stores have waterproof matches)
- Plastic garbage bags
- Working fire extinguisher
- Clean change of clothes, rain gear, sturdy swamp boots
- Fully charged battery-operated lanterns. Don’t use candles and kerosene lanterns. They are fire hazards.
- Map of the area
- List of phone numbers
- Copy of insurance policy
- Get enough nonperishable foods now to last two weeks. Then put them in a box and leave them alone. Note: Canned and other prepared foods that are salty or dry or high in fat or protein might make for good provisions, but they’ll also make you thirsty.
- Water: Enough for 1 gallon of drinking water per person/per day, for one-week minimum. Water for two weeks is ideal. (Also, figure another 1 gallon per person/per day of water for washing hands, flushing toilets and for pets.)
- Ice or dry ice
- Shelf-stable milk and juice boxes
- Canned and powdered milk
- Beverages (powdered or canned, fruit juices, instant coffee, tea)
- Raw vegetables that don’t need refrigeration (will last only a few days)
- Canned vegetables and fruits
- Dried fruits
- Prepared foods (canned soups, beef, spaghetti, tuna, chicken, ham, corned beef hash, packaged pudding)
- Snacks (crackers, cookies, hard candy, unsalted nuts)
- Snack spreads (peanut butter,cheese spreads, jelly)
- Sugar, salt, pepper
- Dry and canned pet food
- Hand tools: hammer, screwdrivers to use now, shovel and pickax for after the storm
- Power screwdriver
- Quarter-inch machine screw sockets and screws
- Plastic sheeting to cover furniture
- Sturdy working gloves
- Duct tape to waterproof items; masking tape isn’t strong enough
- Canvas tarps
- Sturdy nails
Drugstores will be mobbed just before a storm and closed for days after. Keep a two-week supply of prescription drugs. Your first-aid kit should include:
- Medical supplies
- First-aid handbook
- Insect repellent sprays
- Citronella candles, insect bite lotion
- Petroleum jelly, for relieving itching
- Ointments for burns, cuts
- Antiseptic solution
- Extra over-the-counter medicine (for colds, allergies, cough)
- Aspirin, acetaminophen, antacid
- Children’s medicines
- Diarrhea medication
- Feminine hygiene items
- Incontinence supplies
- Rubbing alcohol
- Wet wipes
- Moist towelette packets
- Medic Alert tags
- Hypoallergenic adhesive tape
- Cotton-tipped swabs
- Sterile rolls
- Adhesive bandages
- Sterile gauze pads
- Roller bandages
- Adhesive tape
- Safety pins
- Latex gloves
- Waterless hand sanitizer
- Manual can opener
- Water purification tablets
- Bottle opener
- Matches in a plastic bag
- Pocket knife
- Camp stove or other cooking device and plentyof fuel. (Use only canned fuel indoors — never charcoal or gas. Buy extragas or charcoal to use in well-ventilated space after storm has passed.)
- Ice chests or coolers
- Paper plates, napkins
- Plastic cups, utensils
- Disposable pans for cooking
- Plastic bags, jugs or containers for water and ice
- Disposable diapers
- Baby wipes
- Diaper-rash ointment
- Baby medicines
- Medicine dropper
- Extra formula, baby food
- Garbage can with tight lid
- Plastic bags for liners
- Disinfectant or bleach
- Extra toilet paper
In recent years, properties in the United States have been hit hard by natural disasters, with the largest insured loss event occurring in 2014, according to the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association.
Property and casualty insurance industry catastrophes losses in the United States rose to $15.5 billion in 2014, up from 12.9 billion in 2013.
As a result, claims rose to 2.1 million in 2014, compared with 1.8 million in 2013, the association reported, citing that each year about 6 percent of homeowners file claims.
Mitigate possible losses
But homeowners aren’t the only ones who are affected by these catastrophes. As we approach this hurricane season, businesses should ensure they have an emergency preparedness plan in place in order to mitigate losses should a storm occur.
Floods can occur anywhere, anytime, with little or no warning and businesses must make preparations so that if flooding occurs after a storm, they are able to remain open, or reopen quickly after a flood disaster. This requires taking immediate steps to prevent or reduce flood damage should your business be in flood-prone areas.
Robert Grand, vice president of risk management at Cleveland, Ohio-based consulting company Cbiz Inc., said businesses have an obligation to minimize the continuation of property damage.
For example: If your roof sustains damage during a storm, and you can’t get a contractor to repair the roof before the next rainstorm, you should have a waterproof tarp placed on the roof to prevent any more water damage from occurring, he said. Expenses related to reasonable measures you take as an insured to minimize your property damage are reimbursable, he said.
Notification of loss
In case loss occurs, “Plan to call your insurance company as soon as you’re aware of experiencing property damage,” Grand said. He added that as soon as the carrier receives notification of loss, an adjuster will be assigned and scheduled to come out and begin to help with arranging for cleanup and repairs.
Grand offers five tips for businesses to prepare for flooding in the event of a hurricane:
1. Do your research ahead of time.
Know which roofing contractor or restoration company you’re going to call before the hurricane strikes.
The demand for emergency services surges after a severe windstorm, and the best options may be unavailable if you want too long to call. If you don’t have these relationships in place before a storm, you will quickly find yourself with a sub-par roofing contractor and a less-than-capable restoration company.
2. Develop an emergency response plan.
The last thing you want to deal with is what to do when you have a high expectation for a flood or all the windows are blown out of your buildings and your roof is peeled back like a sardine can. Prepare a plan ahead of time so you can react and activate your catastrophic response team as soon as the wind leaves town.
Take extra care if your business has any exposures to chemicals or pollutants and never forget to include pre-planning options to safely relocate the chemicals or pollutants to avoid property damage and bodily injuries that can result from an environmental impairment event.
Invest in a generator?
You may want to invest in a generator so you can prevent power interruptions.
Seasonally, promote best practices about emergency response planning with your tenants to minimize their risk of going out of business and leaving you with loss of rents.
3. Keep your insurance policies in a safe place.
In case of an emergency, immediately notify your insurance broker or insurance company and provide them as much detailed information as possible.
Large catastrophes will generate tens of thousands of claims, so communication is vital for a quick resolution to your claim. Photograph damaged areas prior to making temporary repairs. Doing so will strengthen your claim and help with the best presentation of your loss.
4. Don’t sign restoration or repair contracts without talking to the insurance company adjuster first.
Your adjuster can play a key role in helping you avoid price gouging after a catastrophe, but he/she won’t be able to negotiate a reasonable price for services if you’ve already signed a contract. Remember, your insurance company is NOT bound by the contracts you sign.
5. Organize your records.
Prepare an inventory of damaged or destroyed property for the adjuster and keep a copy for your records.
Do not discard any items before the adjuster is given a reasonable amount of time to inspect them. Provide available cancelled checks, invoices, etc. that support the value of damaged or destroyed property.
Keep all receipts and invoices for every expense you incur after the loss, including items such as tarps, boards, cleaning supplies, etc. These costs add up quickly and may help erode your deductible.
Your level of preparation before a hurricane can determine how well you weather the storm and how quickly you recover from it. You should start preparing your home, inside and out, long before a storm is in the forecast. In the end, you can never be too prepared when it comes to protecting your loved ones and your property from extreme weather events such as hurricanes.
Know the Forecast
You may hear the terms “hurricane watch” and “hurricane warning” in your local forecast. Understanding the difference between them is essential to helping you prepare for a hurricane. As soon as a hurricane watch or warning is forecast for your area, it is important, depending on the type of alert, to immediately begin or complete your preparations.
A watch means hurricane conditions are possible within 48 hours. You should begin to stock up on emergency supplies in the event a warning is issued. If you live in a coastal area, you also should be prepared to evacuate.
A warning is more serious. Hurricane-force winds (74 mph or higher) are expected to hit your area within 36 hours. You should seek shelter or evacuate, if notified to do so.
General Hurricane Preparation Tips
- Prepare a survival kit that includes items such as water and non-perishable food for everyone, including your pets; medications; a portable radio; flashlights; batteries; and battery chargers for your cell phones and other portable electronic devices, which can be powered by your car.
- Plan your evacuation route and leave as soon as an evacuation order is issued. Also, fuel up your car before you leave.
- Build a content inventory of the items in your home or at your business.
- Secure all outdoor objects or move them inside. Close your home’s storm shutters and board up windows and glass doors as appropriate.
- If possible, bring in gas or charcoal grills, but do not use them indoors. Also, do not store propane tanks inside the house or garage. Chain propane tanks in an upright position to a secure object away from your home.
- Secure your boat or move it to a safer place.
- Fill your emergency generator fuel tank, if you have one, and have spare fuel on hand. Store generator fuel in an approved container in a garage or shed, away from open flames, heat sources and appliances such as natural gas appliances.
Five Tips to Help Prepare Your Home for a Hurricane
1. Help Avoid Water Damage
Heavy rains have the potential to cause significant water damage. These tips can help you prepare your home.
- Closing and locking all windows and doors and removing any window air conditioners.
- Removing valuable items from your basement or elevating them off of the floor.
- Clearing debris from exterior drains and gutters.
- Repairing damaged gutters and downspouts to make sure water can drain away from your foundation.
- Checking your sump pump and the battery backup to confirm they are working properly.
2. Monitor Your Trees
In a powerful windstorm, trees can be a hazard. Broken limbs or fallen trees — even uprooted shrubbery — could damage your home and fences, or your neighbor’s property.
Routinely maintain the trees around your home:
- Prune tree limbs within 10 feet of your home.
- Check for cracking or splitting in trees.
- Remove dead limbs and weakened trees.
3. Roofs, Doors, Windows and Skylights
It is important to keep wall openings, such as doors, windows and skylights protected. The roof, doors and windows of your house are especially vulnerable to wind damage. When houses are exposed to hurricane force winds, roofs are most susceptible to damage, followed by walls and openings such as skylights.
Strengthen doors and windows by:
- Installing reinforcing bolt kits at the top and bottom of doors.
- Reinforcing garage doors.
- Installing storm shutters over windows.
4. Secure Outdoor Items
If you live in an area that experiences high winds, outdoor items around your property that are not properly anchored can become airborne and cause damage.
- If high winds are expected in your area, move as many outdoor items indoors well before the high winds arrive. As mentioned earlier, do not store propane tanks in your home or garage.
- Adequately secure any remaining outdoor items that cannot be safely moved to protected areas.
5. Strengthen Your Exterior Structure
During a windstorm, wind forces are carried from the roof down to the exterior walls and then to the foundation. Homes can be damaged when wind and wind-driven water gets under the building’s exterior walls if proper controls are not in place.
Strengthen exteriors by employing a contractor to:
- Install hurricane straps to reinforce roof-to-wall and wall-to-foundation connections.
- Retrofit soffits to help ensure they remain in place in high winds.
- Properly brace roof trusses.
August 4, 2016
As if texting and e-mail weren’t enough to capture people’s attention as they are walking or driving, now Pokémon Go is creating yet another reason to take your eyes off the road or not watch where you’re walking in the airport, at the mall or on the street.
It’s only been available for two weeks in the United States, but Pokémon Go has become the latest technology craze to mesmerize gamers of all ages.
The game allows players to cross over from the fantasy world of Pokémon to explore the real world as they look for creatures with names such as Diglett, Ponyta and Doduo, which can appear anywhere ― on someone’s shoulder, along a walkway, in a trashcan or behind a light pole.
The app was created by San Francisco-based software developer Niantic Labs, and can either be downloaded from the Pokémon website or through Google Play, which required users to login via their Google credentials, giving the app access to all of a users’ Google-related information such as Gmail, Google Docs and Google Photos, or through iTunes for the iOS platform.
Niantic Labs issued a statement once they discovered that Pokémon Go accounts on iOS were requesting full permission to access a user’s Google account. They are working on an update that will limit the information requested to only the basic Google profile data the app needs to operate. Users will not have to take any action to fix the flaw.
But this action begs the question, what are the risks of sharing information through third-party apps? Adults rarely bother to read the download permissions and children will click “ok” just to access the app.
Christie Alderman, vice president of Chubb’s personal risk services, says parents and end users should be concerned about the amount of information apps are collecting and sharing with third parties because frequently it isn’t clear who these entities are or how the data collected will be used.
“People should really be thinking about this,” she said. “They don’t have a sense of how the little bits of data they give away are being collected by data aggregators to create a more comprehensive picture of you.”
She explains that “if you add in someone’s age from a survey, social media information from their profiles and geolocation services that track where you are, all of a sudden they have comprehensive information about you that apps are selling to third parties. Overall, that’s a concern with these apps. And is the convenience worth sharing all of that information?”
Because the game is so popular, versions with malware embedded in them have flooded the market. This can create vulnerabilities in a phone and allow hackers access to any information the owner accesses with his or her phone. “Don’t download anything unless it’s through a reputable store,” advises Alderman. “There are a lot of malware distributing apps that use a similar name in order to get you to download them.”
Pinsir, a Pokémon, is found by a group of Pokémon Go players, Tuesday, July 12, 2016, at Bayfront Park in downtown Miami. The “Pokémon Go” craze has sent legions of players hiking around cities and battling with “pocket monsters” on their smartphones. (Photo: Alan Diaz/AP Photo)
Practice safe gaming
It’s not just applications that present a danger to children either.
“In any social media platform where people are interacting with strangers, you have to have a conversation with your children about how to act online such as don’t tell them your name or how old you are,” adds Alderman. She recommends turning off the geolocation services on your phone when not using them because they can become embedded in your photos that might be posted on social media platforms.
She also recommends skipping any in-app purchases ― game accessories such as balls, food, weapons and the like. “When an app holds your credit card information, that makes the game harder and encourages you to spend more money, and that puts more vulnerability in the interaction.”
Alderman says to isolate your activity and provide just the bare minimum of information. “Give just what you have to in order to use the device or app,” she advises. “They don’t need to know your birth date, marital status or relationship status.” If the app links to an account, she says to set up a shadow account that doesn’t pull all of your personal information and contacts into the app.
Dangerous and inappropriate places
Sadly, some will use apps for more nefarious purposes. Pokémon Go encourages people to visit different landmarks, parks and other areas to capture more creatures. In Parkville, Maryland, three people were robbed at gunpoint when they were lured to an area after midnight by the game. The thieves took their phones and money before fleeing the scene.
Since gamers are so intent on their game, they may not pay attention to their surroundings and may be willing to go into unfamiliar areas. The Texas Department of Transportation posted a warning on its Facebook page to remind players to be alert to who and what is around them, to not drive and play, and to watch where they walk.
Alderman suggests that players use common sense. “Travel with friends, don’t go into unfamiliar areas, and think about your physical safety.”
In their pursuit of creatures, some gamers are even venturing into places where it is inappropriate to play, such as cemeteries, museums and churches. A number of institutions such as the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., and Arlington National Cemetery have asked players not to search for Pokémon creatures in those locales.
The game is designed to have Pokémon creatures appear when the gamer is moving at less than 20 mph. That means players shouldn’t be able to see them when they are driving unless they appear on the dashboard or rearview mirror, but drivers still shouldn’t be playing and driving.
Numerous pedestrians have been injured by walking into manholes, trees or tripping over curbs and other obstructions. However, getting injured at work while chasing a Pokémon probably won’t qualify as a workers’ compensation claim.
JUL 19, 2016 | BY PATRICIA L. HARMAN
One serious on-the-job injury can potentially cost a business owner tens of thousands of dollars in wage-replacement costs, replacement-hire costs, regulatory fines and lost productivity.
One important way insurance agents can provide a valuable service that strengthens their client relationships is to help business owners establish a culture of workplace safety.
In addition to reducing the risk of incurring injury-related expenses, making the necessary investments to become a safer workplace can save a company money over the long-run. The Occupational Safety and Health Association estimates that business owners can save $4 to $6 for every dollar invested in a safety program. Also, many workers’ compensation insurance carriers offer discounts to companies that have workplace safety plans, which can result in lower premium costs.
Creating a culture of workplace safety often starts with a written plan that demonstrates a business’ commitment to make it a strategic priority. Fortunately, OSHA and some insurance carriers provide free resources, tools and services that agents can offer to help their clients get started.
Here is a four-step framework that agents can recommend to their clients to use to create a culture of workplace safety:
1. Assess and evaluate hazards
Agents can encourage their clients to conduct an initial hazard assessment to identify potential ways employees could get hurt on the job.
OSHA has a comprehensive, easy-to-follow job hazard analysis that should be considered when developing any workplace safety plan. A good assessment should account for both risks specific to the business type or industry, as well as job-specific tasks that could lead to an employee injury.
For example, in a busy restaurant, a line cook’s job likely involves using knives, hot oil and ovens, which could cause lacerations or burns, whereas wait staff may be more susceptible to injuries caused by slippery surfaces.
2. Develop an action plan
After a hazard assessment is done ― and any imminent dangers are addressed right away ― the next step is to develop an action plan that can help your client minimize risk.
At a minimum, the safety plan should describe the steps employees should take to reduce the likelihood of an injury occurring.
For example, the safety plan can specify that spilled liquids need to be cleaned up immediately, or blocked off with clear warning signs until they can be mopped up, so that employees and others in the worksite don’t slip, trip or fall.
3. Promote and enforce the plan
Although having a plan written down is important, it doesn’t do any good if it just collects dust on a shelf and isn’t adhered to every day.
An important step in implementing a workplace safety initiative is to get the client’s senior leadership on board and personally committed. No matter how good the plan is, if management isn’t involved and held accountable, employees won’t feel compelled to live by the rules, either.
Some insurance carriers can help agents and their clients design training workshops and produce collateral materials to communicate the specifics of the safety plan to managers. Once managers are on board, they need to be responsible for cascading information about the policies to their direct reports and correcting safety violations whenever they occur.
4. Recordkeeping and documentation
Diligent recordkeeping and documentation are crucial for managing risk and the successful implementation of a workplace safety plan.
Proper documentation allows for accountability and effective plan management. Additionally, it’s important to have up-to-date records in the event of an OSHA inspection or insurance audit. Agents should check in periodically and encourage their clients to maintain the following documents:
- Training records.
- Employee injury records.
- Accident/injury investigations.
- Inspection records/corrective actions.
- OSHA 300 Logs (where required).
By helping clients understand how taking a proactive approach to workplace safety can ultimately benefit their bottom-line — and protect their employees’ well-being — agents can affect positive change and serve as meaningful, valued business partners who help their clients be more successful.
Jul 06, 2016 | By David Quezada
The Fourth of July and spectacular fireworks displays go hand-in-hand. From 1776 until the present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence, with typical festivities ranging from fireworks, parades and concerts to more casual family gatherings and barbecues.
Fireworks are beautiful, but they’re also dangerous.
In 2013, in the United States alone, fireworks caused an estimated 15,600 reported fires, including 1,400 total structure fires, 200 vehicle fires, and 14,000 outside and other fires, according to the Quincy, Massachusetts-based National Fire Protection Association. These fires resulted in an estimated $21 million in direct property damage.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports 230 people on average go the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries in the month around the July 4th holiday. In 2013, there were eight deaths and an estimated 11,400 consumers who sustained injuries related to fireworks. Sixty-five percent, or 7,400, of the injuries in 2013, occurred in the 30 days surrounding July 4, 2013, according to CPSC‘s latest data.
Will your home insurance cover fireworks injuries and damage? The answer is complicated, according to Insurance.com. Most home insurance policies provide several different types of protection — each with varying payout limits. Also, there are different types of accidents.
If you’re shooting off illegal fireworks and set fire to your house, you may not be covered. Most policies exclude damage resulting from illegal acts or when you purposely caused injury or damage.
If fireworks set fire to leaves in your gutter, a section of your home insurance policy for fire incidents could cover the damage. Fireworks that malfunction and injure a friend on your property could be covered under a section for medical payments to others. Likewise, liability payments could cover your fireworks accidentally shooting into your neighbor’s house and breaking a window.
But if you get into a bottle-rocket war and injure someone, you may not be covered because the incident was intentional.
Each year, fireworks cause extensive property damage and injuries around the world. From China to Mexico, images on the following pages tell the stories of the aftermath following fireworks accidents.
Here are 15 fireworks safety tips to help prevent injuries and protect property from organizations including the American Pyrotechnics Association, National Council on Fireworks Safety, National Fire Protection Association and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:
People check out the damaged structures after a massive fire broke out during a fireworks display at the Puttingal temple complex in Paravoor village, Kollam district, southern Kerala state, India, April 11, 2016. Medical teams tended to hundreds of people injured in a massive fire that killed more than a hundred, while authorities searched for those responsible for illegally putting on the fireworks display that caused the weekend blaze. (Photo: Aijaz Rahi/AP Photo)
1. Use fireworks outdoors only
All fireworks burn, and can quickly start a house or structure fire.
Burnt debris and damaged cars following an explosion at a fireworks stand in a market village in Osinow Dolny, near the border with Germany, northwest Poland, March 29, 2016. According to reports, a small number of people, including one German, have been hospitalized with injuries. (Photo: Pawel Zielonka/AP Photo)
2. Point fireworks away from homes and buildings
Keep fireworks away from brush, leaves and flammable substances. Use launching fireworks in open areas only to ensure they don’t land on top of buildings and houses — especially those with natural (cedar) type shingles.
Don’t light fireworks under trees or near vehicles or windows.
Jordanian firemen extinguish a fire at the site where two containers filled with fireworks exploded, in Amman, Jordan, Oct. 26, 2015. Two containers filled with fireworks exploded at a customs storage area in Jordan’s capital of Amman, killing many people and wounding at least 9, several critically, a civil defense official said. (Photo: Raad Adayleh/AP Photo)
3. Don’t point fireworks at people
Also, maintain a safe distance when watching fireworks shows.
The destroyed fireworks factory Pirotecnia Zaragozana’s building is seen behind firefighters trucks after a huge explosion occurred around 2 p.m. in Pinseque, Spain, Aug. 31, 2015. The blast at a fireworks factory in northeastern Spain killed a number of people and seriously injured others. Police and firefighters didn’t know the cause of the blast. (Photo: Aranzazu Navarro/AP Photo)
4. Store fireworks properly
Storing fireworks can be tricky — if stored improperly, they could lose their charge, weaken, or even prematurely ignite.
- Store fireworks in a cool, dry, dark location.
- Keep stored fireworks away from potential heat sources such as light bulbs, furnaces, engines and other combustible materials.
- Don’t store fireworks in bulk in case they explode before you want them to.
- Store fireworks out of reach of children and pets.
This photo from video provided by WFAA-TV in Dallas shows the aftermath of a fireworks explosion in Comanche, Texas, TJuly 3, 2014. A trailer loaded with fireworks exploded near a Texas high school, killing one person and injuring three other people who were setting up for a Fourth of July show. It’s unclear what triggered the explosion, which occurred near a baseball field adjacent to the high school in Comanche, about 100 miles southwest of Fort Worth. The trailer was hooked to a pickup truck.(Photo: WFAA-TV via AP Photo)
5. Never use homemade fireworks
Buy fireworks only from a licensed store or stand — not from the seller’s home or car. Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper, which is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and could pose a danger to consumers.
Read all instructions before igniting. Never alter or combine fireworks in any way, including trimming fuses or cutting away protective packaging.
Hats belonging to victims sit on the hood of a damaged car as emergency workers gather a the scene where a truck loaded with fireworks exploded during a religious procession in the town of Nativitas, Mexico, March 15, 2013. A truck loaded with fireworks exploded during a religious procession in this rural village in central Mexico, killing at least nine people and injuring dozens more, authorities said. (Photo: J. Guadalupe Perez/AP Photo)
6. Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire
Also, have a first aid kit ready and waiting.
Police officials investigate a site in Simi Valley, Calif., July 5, 2013, where an explosion injured more than two dozen people at a fireworks display. The explosion occurred when a wood platform holding live fireworks tipped over, sending the pyrotechnics into the crowd of spectators. (Photo: Nick Ut/AP Photo)
7. Wear safety glasses when shooting fireworks
Safety glasses will protect your eyes from errant sparks when lighting fireworks and from flying debris if there is a quicker-than-expected explosion.
Smoke billows from the B.E.M. fireworks factory in Coteau du Lac, Quebec, June 20, 2013, following an explosion. Quebec provincial police are investigating a massive explosion at the fireworks factory west of Montreal. There were no immediate reports of injuries and the cause of the blast is unknown. Police have ordered the surrounding community of Coteau-du-Lac evacuated. (Photo: The Canadian Press via AP Photo)
8. Don’t use fireworks while consuming alchoholic beverages or drugs
Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Save alchohol for after the show.
Residents look as a fire burns out a residential homes and a warehouse on Lagos Island in Lagos, Nigeria, Dec. 26, 2012. An explosion ripped through a warehouse Wednesday where witnesses say fireworks were stored in Nigeria’s largest city, sparking a fire. It wasn’t immediately clear if anyone was injured in the blast that firefighters and locals struggled to contain. (Photos: Sunday Alamba via AP Photo)
9. Don’t ignite fireworks in a container
Also, never shoot fireworks into metal or glass containers. And never carry fireworks in your pocket.
Rescue personnel work in the debris left by a fireworks explosion in Santo Andre on the outskirts of Sao Paulo, Sept. 24, 2009. The explosion killed at least three people, injured at least 14, and demolished several homes. (Photo: Andre Penner/AP Photo)
10. Never relight a ‘dud’ firework
Wait 20 minutes and then soak any ‘dud’ fireworks in a bucket of water.
Police investigators gather pieces of evidence at the site Jan. 30, 2009, a day after a powerful explosion at a fireworks factory at Trece Martires City, Cavite Province, 50 kilometers south of Manila, Philippines. At least six people were killed and more than 40 injured when a powerful explosion obliterated a fireworks factory south of Manila, officials said. (Photo: Bullit Marquez/AP Photo)
11. Carefully dispose of spent fireworks
Dispose of spent fireworks by soaking them in a bucket of water and placing in a metal trash can away from any building or combustible materials.
Part of fire damaged Mandarin Oriental hotel building, right, is seen in Beijing’s central business district, China, Feb. 10, 2009. An Olympic-style fireworks display put on by China’s state-run television broadcaster was the cause of a spectacular blaze that destroyed the luxury hotel that was part of the network’s landmark headquarters in Beijing, a fire department spokesman said Tuesday. (Photo: Alexander F. Yuan/AP Photo)
12. Light one firework at a time
Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. After lighting a firework, quickly move away.
Keep spectators a safe distance away from the lighting area — at least 20 feet.
Setting off fireworks in windy conditions is dangerous. (Photo: iStock)
13. Don’t light fireworks in windy conditions
Wind can affect how the sparks fly or may move the charge unexpectedly.
High temperatures and no rain have made the grassland ripe for fires, prompting the posting of signs July 17, 2007, northwest of Salt Lake City. The dried-out grasses that fuel wildfires and fireworks concerns also are inadequate summer range for cattle. (Photo: Douglas C. Pizac/AP Photo)
14. Obey the law
Don’t use fireworks that are illegal in your city, county or state. In Denver, Colorado, for example, setting off fireworks — of any kind — is illegal, and the same goes for most Colorado Front Range cities.
“If you have to light it or ignite it, it’s illegal,” said Christine M. Downs, public information officer for the Denver Police Department, according to The Denver Post. That includes sparklers, bottle rockets, Roman candles and virtually anything loud or cool-looking.
A professional fireworks display behind the U.S. Capital in Washington, D.C. (Photo: PRNewsFoto)
15. Leave fireworks to the professionals
The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public display conducted by trained professionals.
Jun 29, 2016 | By Jayleen R. Heft
Cyber attacks come in many different forms, and the type of attack on any particular company depends on the type of information the intruder is looking for. (Photo: Shutterstock)
Interest in cyber coverage is at an all-time high, and those who previously thought it a luxury — or not a necessity — are taking a much closer look at their exposures.
A recent Marsh report shows that cyber insurance purchases grew 32% in 2014 when compared with 2013, and up 21% in 2013 over 2012. “The yearly increase shows that organizations see cyber as a risk to be managed, not merely a problem to be fixed by IT,” the report asserts.
Damian Caracciolo, vice president and practice leader at CBIZ Management & Professional Risk, said that cyber attacks affect all industries, but the type of attack deployed depends on the industry to which the company being targeted belongs. In 2015, the health care, financial services, retail and education sectors were those that saw the greatest number of cyber incidents.
Caracciolo said that cyber attacks come in many different forms, and the type of attack on any particular company depends on the type of information the intruder is looking for. Here are the five major types of attacks to which your organization would be vulnerable:
Brute force attacks search for vulnerabilities and attack password-protection mechanisms. (Photo: iStock)
1. Brute force attack
A very sophisticated software or algorithm which is written to do whatever it can to attack your system — by searching for vulnerabilities — and in many cases, attacks a password-protection mechanism.
The brute force attack will use a specially designed software to go through hundreds of thousands of different words, combinations of words and numbers to try to crack your password, said Caracciolo of CBIZ. He added: “They will even go through every word in the dictionary to see if they can access something like a password.”
Social engineering fraud doesn’t target data, it targets the money. (Photo: iStock)
2. Social engineering/cyber fraud
“If you’re in the treasury department, and I send you an e-mail that looks like it’s coming from the CEO or CFO requesting that you ‘wire funds on the merger acquisition that we have pending, I would like that money wired today — this is your authorization to get it done,’ whoever is working in that accounting or treasury department will wire the money,” said Caracciolo.
He added that they’re not attacking your system, they’re attacking individuals, and the company’s wire-transfer policies and procedures: “We’re seeing a prevalence of that today, and that’s significant because the losses tend to be in seven figures. This type of attack doesn’t target data, it targets the money and once it’s transferred it’s unlikely that you’re able to retrieve that money.”
DDoS attack overloads the target’s website or network system, ultimately shutting it down. (Photo: iStock)
3. Distributed Denial of Service attack (DDoS)
This happens when a server is overloaded with connections, with a goal of ultimately shutting down the target’s website or network system. “This is just where [hackers] are overloading your system, hoping it will shut down your network and you will not be able to operate your business.”
Phishing is probably the most commonly reported form of cyber-attack. (Photo: iStock)
4. Phishing attacks
Phishing is is perhaps the most commonly reported form of cyber attack, said Caracciolo, and keeping up with the methods of some phishing attacks is proving to be very difficult.
There are various types of phishing attacks and the type that is used usually depends on the industry. “Hackers send out hundreds of thousands of emails [with an attachment or link] hoping that someone will click on them,” he added. “That’s the hacker’s means to access your system.” Once you open it, you’re giving them access to your computer system and the information on it.
“Once they’re in, then they’re able to really attack the software’s vulnerabilities, whether it’s personal passwords, firewall or lack thereof, or unpatched status security software.”
If malware is introduced into your system, it could erase all the information contained on your hardware. (Photo: iStock)
5. Malware, spyware, ransomware
Each of these types of attack has its own objectives. Any one of those is an attack on your software, your systems, your theft prevention software — getting access through any one of the malware type of attacks.
“It’s basically a malicious software with the intent to gain unauthorized access and that could include viruses, spyware,” he explains, “and more recently, we’ve see ransomware where they’ll lock down your system and essentially say ‘we have your data, if you want it back you’re going to pay a ransom and we’ll let you gain access back to your information.’” Caracciolo added that there are also Trojan horses and key loggers that track keystrokes to gain access to passwords or gain access to your system.
If the malware is introduced into your system, it will cause the intended damage, and that intended damage could be erasing all the information contained on your hardware.
Other types of malware target individuals who probably aren’t with the IT department and may not have the same level of sophistication or even paying attention, he noted. “You’re busy, you get an email, you don’t pay much attention to who it’s from or if it’s an accurate email address, you click and allow them access to your system. It’s as simple as that. Whether it’s a link or an attachment, you basically provide that malware into your system, which will then accomplish whatever the objective is.”
As for spyware, hackers introduce a software into your system that looks for the simplest form to track keystrokes to get passwords or electronically spy on your network, whether to gain access to confidential information or spying in order to gain access to unidentifiable information.
A “worm” is similar to a virus but it spreads differently. In order to affect your files, a worm eats into your system and runs on its own. If a worm is introduced into your system, it could replicate by resending itself from your system to everyone in your contacts list; so one person lets it in and then it just compounds itself; depending on how it’s written, it could get back to every contact on your list.
Jun 24, 2016 | By Trudy Knockless
Are you intrigued by the idea of renting a room in your home to earn extra income? You may be thinking that it’s easy money, and you can rent a room for a short time or your entire house for a long time. But before you sign that rental agreement, here are six things the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) wants you to know.
What are home sharing websites?
There are several online solutions available that let you rent a room or your home to a stranger you meet by using an app or a website, called home-sharing solutions, explains NAIC. Home-sharing or peer-to-peer rentals (P2P) are sites like Airbnb, Roomorama, VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) and HomeAway that connect hosts with guests. Guests find a property and pay for the stay just as they would in a hotel. The difference is that the property is not a licensed hotel or bed and breakfast and is often a privately owned apartment, condo or house. Anyone can register with the sites as a host or guest.
What’s the risk?
What if your guest vandalizes your property, the hallway of your condo or even your neighbor’s swing set?
What if your guest is injured on your property?
Both guests and hosts could incur costs if things go astray, NAIC says. As a host, your homeowners or renter’s insurance policies are not designed to cover accidents arising from property rental, and your insurance company may deny coverage for any resulting claims.
Although operating as an online platform, these types of rentals may fall outside your local zoning or housing laws and regulations, which could result in you being liable for a violation of your local law or code. Even if you haven’t violated any law, you might have to hire legal counsel to protect and defend yourself from charges.
How can you protect yourself as a host?
NAIC reminds homeowners that accidents can happen, anytime, anywhere. Even if you take preventative measures, your tenants or guests could trip over a rug or fall over their feet, causing injury.
Most homeowners policies provide coverage if a home visitor falls and is injured. That’s likely not the case if a paying guest falls in your home, however, because your coverage may not be intended for commercial use. Without liability insurance protection from the company facilitating the host agreement, your homeowners or renter’s insurance policy might leave you with no coverage—but still liable for damages.
Homeowners policies vary, but you should be aware that they usually exclude or provide very limited coverage for homeowners who are running a business in their home. When you begin earning income from renting out your home or a room, your carrier will probably consider you as a home-based business. If you lease out a room or your entire home for profit, your insurer could claim you’re essentially running a hotel or bed and breakfast and deny coverage. On the other hand, if you seldom rent out your home, your insurer might provide coverage. A renter’s insurance policy is subject to the same limitations as a homeowners insurance policy.
To make sure you’re protected, speak with your agent about your situation and participation in this activity—preferably before you sign up with the website. If you only occasionally rent a room or your house, your current homeowners insurer might be willing to provide an endorsement to protect you, NAIC says. If you plan to rent your house for a long term or if you plan to frequently rent out a room or the whole house, however, then purchasing a landlord policy (also known as landlord property insurance or rental coverage for landlords) might be your best option. NAIC explains that a landlord insurance policy will cover your home, structures on the property, property contents that you own (such as appliances and furniture), lost rental income due to building damage, legal fees and liability protection.
Some experts recommend only renting to guests who have homeowners, renter’s or personal liability insurance and are able to show proof they are insured. Then if your property is damaged, you could file a claim under the guest’s policy.
(Photo: Irina Borsuchenko/Shutterstock)
How can you protect yourself as a guest?
What else do I need to know?
Currently, Airbnb provides host protection insurance with coverage up to $1 million if a third-party claims bodily injury or property damage against you as a host. The NAIC notes that this liability insurance program is automatically applied to every listing in the U.S. and the coverage is secondary. It applies only after your primary insurance policy either settles or denies a claim. Laws regarding P2P companies vary from state to state, even city to city be sure to speak with someone who is knowledgeable about your location. Because home-sharing companies are still a fairly new phenomenon, NAIC recommends that you speak with your agent or insurance provider about your risks as a host to make sure you’re properly covered before you list your property for rent.
Where can I get more information?
The more you can educate yourself about insurance issues related to rentals in the share economy, the better, says NAIC. You should start by contacting your state insurance department to find out how it’s handling matters involving companies that facilitate property rentals to guests. For more information about insurance tips in the share economy, visit Insure U online including the Sharing Economy page.
June 13, 2016 | BY ROSALIE L. DONLON