Guide To Commercial Auto Insurance

If you run a company that relies on the use of vehicles for yourself or employees to complete job-related tasks, a personal auto insurance policy isn’t sufficient coverage to protect you in the event of an accident or damage.

Commercial auto policies are designed to provide coverage for
the increased risks that come from a business' daily operations.
If you have employees who spend a lot of time on the road, or you’re an individual who uses your personal vehicle to make money, here’s everything you need to know about commercial auto insurance:

What is commercial auto insurance?
Commercial auto insurance is a business insurance policy that applies to autos owned by or used for your business that protects against liability for damages caused by accidents involving your business autos. This type of policy also provides certain compensation to occupants of your business autos who may be injured in an accident.

The difference between personal and commercial auto policies
The main difference between commercial and personal auto insurance is the coverage provided. A personal auto policy provides coverage to protect you, your personal assets, and prevent you and your family from experiencing financial hardship. Commercial auto insurance provides coverage to protect you and businesses from auto-related lawsuits and settlements.
Another key factor to this policy is vehicle ownership. If your vehicles are owned by your business, they need to be covered under a commercial auto policy. That way, commercial auto insurance will help protect your business’s finances from costs related to accidents or other covered losses. It’s events like these — when you or your employees are driving one of your
business’s vehicles — where you need this protection most.

Do I need commercial auto insurance?
When do you need business auto insurance for your vehicle? Consider the following:

How is the vehicle used?

If you own a business, have a business owner policy, or general liability policy for your business, and own or use the auto in conjunction with your owned business, you’ll most likely need a commercial auto policy to protect those vehicles and your business.

Who owns the vehicle?
Your vehicle will most likely need commercial auto insurance if it’s owned by a business, but if you’re the sole proprietor, you might only need a personal auto insurance policy. For instance, if you only use your vehicle simply for commuting to and from work, you might be covered by your personal auto insurance policy. Contact your agent to make sure.

You’ll typically need commercial auto insurance if:
● Any of your vehicles are owned by a partnership, LLC, or corporation.
● Any of your vehicles are registered or titled to a business, including corporation or partnership.
● Any of your employees or you rent or lease vehicles for business purposes.
● Any non-listed drivers use their own vehicles to conduct business on your business’s behalf.

How is the vehicle being used?
The type of your vehicle, ownership and how the vehicle is used are important factors when determining if you need commercial auto insurance. Consider the following:
● Are any of your vehicles a dump truck, semi or commercial trailer?
● Do any of your vehicles, including pickups, vans or utility vehicles, exceed a gross weight of 15,000 pounds?
● Do any of your vehicles have catering equipment?
● Is your vehicle outfitted for snow plowing and not used for personal use snow plowing?
● Are any of your vehicles equipped with altered suspensions, hydraulic lifts?

Coverage included with commercial auto insurance
Like any insurance policy, coverage will vary based on your business’ specific needs. We recommend you review your policy thoroughly with your insurer, however, the following are common when it comes to a commercial auto insurance:
● Liability Coverage — Covers damage to you or another individual’s vehicle and any legal
costs related to an accident.
● Medical Payments Coverage — Covers the cost of treating injuries, rehabilitation, and, if applicable, lost wages and funeral expenses for you and your passengers as a result of an accident, no matter who is at fault.
● Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists Coverage (UI/UIM) — Coverage in the event that another driver involved in an accident does not have insurance or doesn’t have sufficient coverage to pay your medical bills. Nearly 14% of all drivers in the US are uninsured, so you’re taking your chances if you don’t add UM/UIM coverage to your commercial auto policy.
● Comprehensive Coverage — Payment to repair or replace your car if it’s damaged from an incident out of your control, such as fire, vandalism, theft, natural disasters, or animal collisions.

We hope this helps you better understand commercial auto insurance and whether it’s right for
you. Visit our website to find an agent near you who can help explain your coverage options.

Wellness Tips for Hybrid Employees

Today, 51% of companies are in favor of a hybrid-remote work schedule for their employees. As more and more employers begin to adopt this type of working environment, it’s important to prioritize the well-being of individuals regardless of location to help avoid burnout, especially when the lines between work and home are blurred.

Here are some wellness tips to maintain productivity and boost overall success.

Set Boundaries
When you work and live in the same place, it can be challenging to maintain a separation between your personal and professional life. Your home becomes your office and vice versa. Unplugging has become more challenging than ever. Research shows remote workers log an average of four more hours per week than their on-site counterparts, ultimately leading to burnout and poor mental health.

To set healthy boundaries, get ready for the day as if you’re going to an office. Set up a space in your home designated for work tasks and work tasks only. When you sign off for the day, try to avoid checking email or answering calls following that time.

Schedule Breaks
In an office setting, you probably take breaks throughout the day to take a walk, eat lunch, get a coffee, or chat with colleagues. When you’re at home, you may just remain glued to your computer or work the entire day. Set an alarm to take breaks throughout the day at home and in the office so you get into a similar routine.

Avoid Tech Fatigue
In the era of Zoom meetings, everyone is spending more time on computers or technology in general than ever before. Aside from normal time spent on devices like phones, computers, and tablets, this added screen time can be detrimental to your vision. Here are a few ways to combat this:
● Shift out of full screen views to reduce the size of the window relative to your monitor. Also, keep your screens on a lower brightness setting.
● On Zoom calls, hide your self-view or opt for camera off options entirely.
● Use an external keyboard or mouse so you can set your screen up farther away from your face.
● Opt for phone calls when possible.

Promote Wellness in Company Culture
Step challenges, walking groups, and fitness contests are popular among offices and can be translated to remote work environments too. Promoting healthy activities and offering incentives like an extra vacation day to the winner can have a ripple effect on overall wellness and productivity in your employees.

Here are a few ideas to consider:
● Create an office intramural sports team.
● Offer group fitness classes for days employees are in office.
● Encourage walking breaks throughout the day.
● Offer reimbursement for gym memberships and fitness classes or equipment.

Plan Meetings with Purpose
With remote work, “meeting overload” has become a common culprit of burnout. Before you hit send on an invite, be sure you’re only inviting those who truly need to be present and make the meeting as efficient as possible.

No matter where you work from, employee wellness should always be a priority. We hope these tips help you implement some positive practices within your company.

How To Prepare Your Home For Vacation

Planning a getaway this summer? We don’t blame you — it’s about time! Just don’t forget to make sure your home is prepared for your absence. There are a few things that homeowners often overlook as they get ready for a vacation; which is why we’ve put together the following list of tips and insights to help you enjoy your sunny retreat without hesitation.

1. Alert your alarm company

If you have an alarm system at home, make sure to arm it before you hit the road. Also be sure to let your alarm company know that you’ll be away. By knowing the dates that you will be away, they will know to alert authorities immediately if your alarm is set off.

2. Talk to your neighbors

Consider letting a trusted neighbor know that you’ll be away as well. If your neighbors are aware that you are away, they will know not to expect any cars in your driveway or people about your property. Keeping your neighbors in the loop will help them better recognize any potentially suspicious behavior occurring around your property, allowing them to alert the proper authorities if necessary.

3. Turn off all appliances

Be sure to turn off and unplug appliances! This can help minimize the risk of a fire starting while you’re away, while also saving you money on your electricity bill. Go through your home room by room before leaving and make sure any appliances that don’t need to be on are either off or unplugged. Think about items like televisions, kitchen appliances other than your fridge, window air conditioners, or cell phone or computer chargers.

Adjusting your thermostat/air conditioning depending on the season will also help you save on your energy bill.

4. Don’t forget to lock up!

It may sound obvious, but don’t forget to lock up! The simplest step you can take to safeguard your house before leaving is ensuring everything is locked up. Check all doors and windows to make sure everything is closed and locked — if you have a window air conditioning unit installed, consider taking this out and locking all windows before you leave as well. Avoid leaving a key out on your property. Instead, consider leaving a key with a trusted neighbor or relative, in case something comes up and your home needs to be tended to while you’re away.

5. Avoid Having Your Home Look Vacant

Consider installing timers on a few lights or lamps to make it appear as though someone is home while you are away. This way, you can set the lights to turn on in the evening instead of having your home remain dark for days. Installing motion sensor activated lights in outdoor areas, like outside of your front and back door, is also a great idea.

A full mailbox can also be an indicator that you are away. Be sure to stop or redirect your mail if you’re going to be away for a long time. You can contact your local post office about holding your mail while you’re away or about having it redirected to a relative/friend.

Lastly, you should consider how long you’ll be away. For example, scheduling a lawn service to cut your grass or landscape your property while you’re gone. This will make it look like you’re home and you’ll return to a neatly manicured lawn!

6. Insurance

Consider your insurance needs before you go. Will your auto policy cover you where you’re headed? Do you need additional coverage for a rental vehicle? Is your renters or homeowners insurance enough to cover the contents of your luggage or valuables you are traveling with in the event that they are lost or damaged? Keep all these considerations in mind while you’re away.

We hope these tips help give you peace of mind while you enjoy your trip. To learn more about how you can protect your home and your valuables, visit our website. www.quincymutual.com.

 

 

Tips To Avoid Distracted Driving

On average, 170 people will die in a distracted driving related accident in Massachusetts every year, according to the NHTSA. From tending to a child in the backseat to sending a text, eating a sandwich, or checking your lipstick, there are countless ways to be distracted — even for 1 second — when you’re behind the wheel.

The Insurance Information Institute claims driving while interacting with a mobile device can increase the odds of a crash by as much as 3.5 times, compared to the risks that a sober, alert and attentive driver faces. Teens in particular are more susceptible to collisions, even when speaking hands-free on a mobile phone. Let’s explore the many ways you can help prevent distracted driving accidents.

Even implementing one of the following tips can help reduce your risk, but we recommended practicing them all to keep you, your passengers, and others safe on the road.

  1. Turn it off. Turn your phone off or switch to silent mode before you get in the car. If you’ll be tempted, put the phone somewhere out of reach while you’re in motion. If you’ll be on the road for an extended period of time, let friends, family and colleagues know so they don’t contact you during that time.
  2. Spread the word. Set up a special message to tell callers that you are driving and you’ll get back to them as soon as possible. Most phones have this capability now.
  3. Pull over. If you need to make a call or adjust your GPS, pull over to a safe area first.
  4. Use your passengers. Ask a passenger to communicate for you.
  5. Don’t read. You should NEVER text and drive, surf the web or read your email while driving. It is dangerous and against the law in most states.
  6. Prepare. Start your GPS or review maps and directions before you start to drive. If you need help when you are on the road, ask a passenger to help or pull over to a safe location to review the map and/or directions.
  7. Secure your pets. Pets can be a big distraction in the car. Always secure your pets properly before you start to drive.
  8. Keep the kids safe. Pull over to a safe location to address situations with your children in the car.
  9. Focus on the task at hand. Refrain from smoking, eating, drinking, reading and any other activity that takes your mind and eyes off the road.
  10. If you need to eat on the road, pull over into a parking lot until you’re done.

Tips To Protect Your Vehicle During Pothole Season

Every year as spring rolls around and winter is in the rearview, New England drivers are faced with the havoc it wreaked on the roadways — potholes. After months of ice, freezing rain, fluctuating temperatures, and snowstorms, cracks start to develop and eventually turn into potholes under the weight of passing cars. As harmless as they may seem, driving over a single pothole can result in thousands of dollars in damages to your vehicle or leave you stranded on the side of the road. From popped tires to dented rims, dislodged wheels and even body damage to your car, it’s important to be extra mindful this time of year and take every precaution to avoid direct contact. 

Here are 5 tips to protect your vehicle this pothole season:

 

  • Inspect your tires

 

Tires provide the most important level of protection between your vehicle and a pothole. Before you leave, do a quick check of your tires for nails, worn-down tread, and deflation. Staying on top of these three indicators can help you avoid an unexpected flat tire. If you experience low tire pressure, your maintenance guide will tell you what the appropriate PSI (pounds per square inch) is for your vehicle.

 

  • Keep an eye on the road ahead of you

 

If you spot a pothole in advance, you may have time to safely avoid it. Remain alert and avoid distractions to best be prepared. If you do spot a pothole, check your mirrors and surrounding traffic before you swerve to avoid causing a collision or endangering a pedestrian or cyclist.

 

  • Drive slow

 

If you can’t avoid contact, slow down as much as possible. Hitting one of these at 20 miles per hour will inflict far less damage than if you hit one at 60 miles per hour, avoiding serious issues with your wheel and suspension systems.

 

  • Avoid puddles.

 

Where there’s a puddle, there’s likely a pothole underneath it and the water can make it difficult to know how big and deep the pothole is. Try to avoid them entirely if you can safely do so.

 

  • Conduct regular maintenance.

 

As always, the best way to prevent a problem is to take preventative measures. Performing regular maintenance on your vehicle can help identify potential issues and is your best bet for avoiding a costly claim. Stay up to date on routine procedures and be mindful of anything out of the ordinary, for example, hearing noises, noticing a slight veer to the left or right, or feeling a new vibration as you drive. These can all indicate vulnerabilities that can lead to costly problems if you hit a pothole.

We hope these tips help keep you and your vehicle safe this pothole season and beyond. If you have any related questions, please visit our website to find a local agent near you: https://www.quincymutual.com/find-agent.htm

 

Winter Activity Safety Guide

We’re officially in one of the most dreaded winter weather months — February. Historically, this month is infamous for heavy storms, frozen roadways, and the risk of dangerous conditions. On the flip side, kids also get a break from school for February vacation and families can get some time off for winter activities.

However, all the fun of skiing, snowmobiling, skating and sledding doesn’t come without some risks. Before you head out for some family fun, brush up on these safety tips.

Sledding

  • Find gently sloping hills that are free of hidden hazards like rocks and other obstacles.
  • Steer clear of hills next to busy roads.
  • Make sure hills are covered with packed snow (not ice).
  • Use sturdy and safe equipment, with no sharp or jagged edges.
  • Check the weather before you go.
  • Teach children it’s better to sit up while riding downhill—lying flat increases the chance of head and abdominal injuries.
  • Roll off the sled if a collision with a tree or other large/hard object is imminent.
  • Never ride on a sled that is being pulled by a car, truck, or snowmobile.

Snowmobiling 

  • Check the weather and trail conditions before you go.
  • Note that it is recommended that children younger than 6 not ride a snowmobile, and youth younger than 16 should use extreme caution if driving one.
  • All snowmobile drivers and passengers should wear helmets designed for high-speed motor sports.
  • Don’t drink alcohol and ride.
  • Maintain speed limits — speed is a factor in many accidents particularly during low visibility.
  • Ride with someone on another snowmobile so you have a ride if you encounter a problem.

Ice Skating

  • Skate only in posted or approved areas.
  • Learn how to stop and how to fall safely.
  • Skate in the direction of the other skaters.
  • Watch the skating surface for cracks, holes, and other debris.

Skiing and Snowboarding

  • Wear a helmet.
  • If it’s been awhile since you last skied, try an easier trail before the more advanced ones.
  • Know your limits and abide by them.
  • Wear sunglasses or goggles to protect your eyes.
  • Be alert to the movement of others around you and stay in control.
  • Stop in a safe place if you need to.
  • Riding the ski lift, as well as getting on to and off of it, can be dangerous, so stay alert and avoid horseplay.

Ice Fishing

  • Remember that new ice is usually stronger than old ice.
  • Beware of moving water, especially around inlets and outlets.
  • Before you leave, tell someone your plans — where you are going and what time you plan to return; notify them if plans change.
  • Never go out on the ice alone.
  • Check with local experts (tackle shops or equipment rentals) to find out the conditions.
  • Carry at least one full set of dry clothing in a waterproof bag or container.
  • Carry a pair of ice picks and a throw rope.
  • Use a sled to carry your fishing gear rather than a backpack or duffel bag. It distributes the weight over a greater surface area of the ice.
  • When in doubt, don’t go.
  • Don’t wear seat belts when driving on ice because they make it difficult to exit a vehicle quickly, and keeping the door slightly ajar while traveling will help you exit the vehicle quickly in an emergency.
  • Ice thickness reminders:
    • 2″ or less — Don’t go.
    • 4″— Fish on foot
    • 5″ — ATV acceptable
    • 8″ to 12″ — Safe for a car
    • 12″ to 15″ —Safe for a truck

Staying Warm and Avoiding Frostbite

  • Dress warmly in several layers of clothing—wear boots, gloves, or mittens and a hat.
  • Set reasonable time limits on outdoor play, and make sure children go into a warm place periodically to warm up.
  • Limit time outside for infants as they lose heat quicker than others.
  • Certain beverages (those that contain caffeine and alcohol) and medications can make you more sensitive to the cold.
  • Use the “buddy system” to monitor your physical reaction to the cold if you are going to be outdoors for an extended period of time.

How To Cut Your Home Energy Costs This Winter

Living in Massachusetts, we’re no stranger to the dark, cold winter months. Along with ice, snow and frigid temps, this time of year can also bring higher energy bills for homeowners and renters. In addition to the cost of heating your residence, you are likely spending much more time at home than you would in the summer, so you’ll have to use more electricity during these periods of shorter daylight.

Fortunately, there are several simple things you can do to lower your electric bills and your carbon footprint.  Not only will your wallet thank you, but as an added bonus, some of these things can help  you reduce wear and tear on your home that winter weather can cause.

  • Weatherstrip your doors and windows.  Sealing any drafts if the first step to keeping the inside of your home warm and the cold weather out. Doors and windows can leak heat 24/7, but weatherstripping will give you an added layer of protection.
  • Install a smart thermostat. This is one of the simplest, high-tech ways to save on your electric bill. A programmable thermostat allows you to optimize heating times and set temperatures throughout the day. Even when you’re away from home, you can monitor how much energy you’re using and warm it just in time for your return.
  • Have a professional inspect your heating system. An annual check-up can ensure your system is running efficiently and that you’re not wasting energy.
  • Clear your air vents. If furniture is blocking your vents, your system has to work overtime to heat your home. Make sure they’re clear and the heat can easily escape to reach the entire room.
  • Update your insulation. Proper insulation is the key to reducing your electric bill. Additional insulation in your attic can keep more
  • Adjust your water heater temperature. Older models tend to lose heat easily and are naturally kept at a higher heat than you really need. Consider lowering the temp and adding a hot water heater blanket which will provide an extra later of insulation.
  • Only wash and dry full loads of laundry. A half-full load of laundry is a waste of energy. No matter how full it is, you still use a significant amount of power and water to run the load. Also, consider washing in cold or warm temps over hot whenever possible.
  • Insulate your pipes. The pipes that carry the hot water to faucets, showers, and appliances can be draining your energy, especially if the water travels far. Adding insulation will deliver hotter water and reduce the amount of time you have to run the water for it to heat up.
  • Unplug unused electronics. Even when they’re not on or in use, did you know your electronics are still drawing energy? Whenever you can, unplug these devices such as printers, microwaves, and video game consoles. Bonus tip: electronics you navigate with a remote control are the biggest culprits because they essentially live in standby mode.
  • Bundle up. Perhaps the most inexpensive way to save is to layer up. Instead of turning up the heat, throw on another sweater or a blanket.
  • Let the sun in during the day and close the curtains at night. The sun is the natural source of heat for our homes and during the day, can add a few degrees to the inside temperature. At night, keeping the curtains drawn will help trap that heat so it doesn’t escape through your windows.

We hope these tips will help keep you comfortable and your energy bills down no matter where you live. To learn more about how we can help you protect what matters most, please visit our website. https://quincymutual.com/

20 Insurance Terms Everyone Should Know

When it comes to reading your insurance policy, do you find yourself scanning the pages with no clear understanding of what it all means? The jargon unique to the insurance industry can be confusing whether you’re new to coverage or have several policies to your name. We’re here to help. Our team at Quincy Mutual Group has put together a list of 20 common keywords we guarantee you’ll come across when reviewing your policy and what they mean.

1. Actual cash value (ACV) — The amount equal to the replacement cost minus depreciation of lost, stolen, or damaged property, vehicles, or items. Essentially, this is the actual cost you could sell it for, which is likely less than what it would cost to replace it.

Oftentimes, actual cash value coverage is a less-expensive insurance option.

2. Adjuster — An adjuster is an individual who investigates your claim. They determine if the loss is covered, estimate damage, and can process a reimbursement if applicable.

3. Agent — An insurance agent is someone who sells insurance policies for an insurance company or carrier (insurer). They will help guide you through the insurance process, understand your needs, and find the right policy for you.

4. Bodily injury — This refers to an injury a person sustains in an auto accident, on your property, etc. that you may be liable for if found at fault.

5. Carrier — A carrier is another word for the insurance company that provides you with your policy. An insurance agency may partner with a number of carriers to help offer the best insurance solutions to their customers.

6. Claim — A claim refers to any request for payment within the bounds of an insurance policy. For example, if you experience a home fire, you would file a claim, requesting that your insurance carrier investigate and issue payment for damages and loss. Similarly, a claimant refers to the person requesting the payment.

7. Coverage — Coverage is the protections or benefits your insurance policy provides. These are outlined in your policy or contract and can be found on your declarations page (see No.10).

8. Damage — Any loss, destruction, or harm to a person or property, such as a vehicle or home, or insured valuable.

9. Damages — Unlike damage, this refers to the actual money one individual or party is required legally to pay to another in the event of liability or loss.

10. Declarations page — Your declarations page includes the essential information regarding your insurance policy. It will include policyholder information, such as name, address, and policy number, as well as coverages, limits, premiums, deductibles, and dates of coverage.

11. Deductible — A deductible is the amount of money that you, the insured, are required to pay before the insurance company takes over. For example, if you have a $1,000 deductible on your auto policy but are in an accident that results in $5,000 in damages, you would pay $1,000 and the policy would pay the remaining $4,000. Deductibles will vary across policies and your insurance agent can help determine what works best for you.

12. Endorsement — An amendment or addition to your existing policy to include extra coverage not already listed in your policy.

13. Estimate — The total amount of money required to repair or replace the covered property, vehicle, or item when damaged. This number is typically determined by the claims adjuster.

14. Insured — This refers to the person(s) that an insurance policy covers. For example, if you have a renters insurance policy, you are the insured in that contract. 

15. Liability — Any legal obligation or responsibility one party has for causing damage, injury, or loss to another party. For example, if someone slips and falls on an icy walkway at your home resulting in broken bones, you may be found liable for the bodily injury.

16. Limits — A limit refers to the maximum amount of protection your insurance company will pay for a specific coverage in any given claim. This amount is agreed upon before issuing the policy and can be found on your declaration page. For example, your insurer may have a limit of $50,000 per incident and anything beyond that will be the responsibility of the insured.

17. Loss — In the context of insurance, “loss” refers to damage caused to an insured piece of property. A “covered loss” refers to any damage or injury that an insurance policy specifically provides protection for. For example, a homeowners policy typically has hail damage slated as a “covered loss.” Flood damage, however, is typically not a “covered loss” even though the loss took place on an insured piece of property.

18. Policyholder — This is yet another term you might frequently hear or see that refers to the person or entity an insurance policy covers, like “insured,” and would appear on the declarations page. A policy can have multiple insureds, yet only one policyholder.

19. Premium — This is the amount the insured pays their insurance company in exchange for coverage. These can be monthly, quarterly, or annual payments that are required regardless of loss, damage, or accident.

20. Replacement cost coverage — Unlike the actual cash value, replacement cost refers to the cost of replacing property without subtracting depreciation due to normal use or wear and tear. For example, if you have boat insurance, replacement cost coverage would pay to replace that boat with an identical model, or a model of comparable quality.

We hope this guide helps you better understand your insurance policy. To find an agent near you who can help explore your insurance options, please visit our website.

Home Fire Prevention Guide

Your house is more than just a house, it’s a home where you’ve created lifelong memories with family and friends. While our homes are often a safe space, there are also a number of safety risks to be mindful of. Over the past five years, home fires have been the cause of 2,620 deaths and $6.9 billion in property damage, according to the NFPA. From electrical problems to cooking, heating, decor, and more, there are a number of causes of home fires but many of them are preventable. 

The holiday season is a peak time for one of these instances, with 51% of December home fires starting from candles, compared to those in January and November. To help keep you, your family, and your home safe, here are some prevention and safety tips to practice the holiday season and beyond.  

Key Home Fire Stats

To understand how important it is to keep preventative measures a priority, here are a few key home fire stats you may not be aware of from the National Fire Prevention Association:

  • The top three causes of home fires are cooking, heating equipment, and electrical malfunctions. 
  • It takes just 30 seconds for a small flame to turn into a major blaze. 
  • An average of 70.3% of Americans has access to a fire extinguisher. 
  • Every year, there’s an average of 358,300 U.S. home-based fires.
  • Fire departments and fire services across the U.S. respond to a fire roughly every 24 seconds. 
  • Christmas tree fires cause $17.5 million in damages annually. 
  • Most fires that are started by candles as a heat source happen on Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. 

General Safety Tips

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home. Test them frequently to make sure they work and change the batteries every 6 months.
  • Create multiple escape plans and practice them with your family. Create a role for everyone and identify various exits. If you have a second or third level to your home, consider keeping a fire ladder in each bedroom. 
  • Keep grills and fryers at least 3 feet away from your house and trees or bushes.
  • Keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from anything flammable. Always turn off heaters when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Have a professional inspect and service chimneys, fireplaces, wood stoves and furnaces annually.
  • If someone in your home is deaf or hard of hearing, consider installing an alarm that combines flashing lights, vibration, and sound.
  • Store flammable chemicals and products properly and far away from electrical wires or sources of heat. 
  • Keep a fire extinguisher on every level of your home and teach everyone in your family how to use them. They should have an ABC rating, making them usable for all types of fires. 

Prevention Tips for the Kitchen and Beyond

  • Keep an eye on your cooking — unattended cooking equipment is a leading cause of home fires. 

  • Keep cooking appliances clear of combustible materials such as rags, towels and packaging materials. 
  • Avoid having too many cooks in the kitchen — multiple people working simultaneously can lead to accidents.
  • Keep children away from all cooking areas.
  • If you use space heaters in the colder months, only turn them on when you’re in the room and keep away from blankets, clothing, and any other flammable materials.
  • If you use your fireplace, make sure all embers are extinguished before you go to bed or leave the house. 
  • Never leave burning candles or open flames unattended. If you do burn candles, always:

  • Use sturdy holders. Keep candles away from children and pets.
  • Extinguish candles before going to bed or leaving the room.
  • Burn candles on even surfaces.
  • Keep candles away from upholstery or window coverings.

What to do in the event of a fire

We hope these prevention tips help avoid a home fire, but should you experience one, here’s what to do:

  • Get out and stay out. Find a safe place far away from your home while fire emergency responders contain the blaze. 
  • If you have kids, check on them and make sure they feel safe.
  • Have your pets checked by a veterinarian, lung damage and burns below their fur can often go unnoticed and cause severe implications. 
  • Call family and friends in the event you need a place to stay.
  • Contact your local insurance agent to alert them about the incident. 
  • Get a copy of the fire report as soon as it’s available. 
  • When safe, recover possessions and begin making notes on your home inventory for insurance purposes
  • Prioritize the mental wellbeing of your family. Fires can be incredibly stressful mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially. In the aftermath of a fire, it’s important to take care of your family first and foremost.

We hope these tips will help you prevent a home fire. To find an agent near you who can help explore your insurance options, please visit our website.

How To Avoid These 5 Common Home Insurance Claims

Every year, 1 in 15 homeowners will file a home insurance claim. No matter where you live, it’s likely that at some point in your homeownership, one of these instances will happen to you. Some claims are inevitable, but there are a number of things you can do to help reduce your risk of having to file one. 

Here are the most common insurance claims and how you can prevent them:

Wind and Hail 

In New England, we’re prone to strong storms year-round. Wind can arise, seemingly out of nowhere, and uproot trees, cause downed branches, and even sweep the shingles right off your roof. Similarly, even a light hailstorm can cause property damage to your roof and windows.

If a storm is coming, store loose furniture in a safe place and make sure you have enough emergency supplies for at least 72 hours. If hurricane-like wind and rain are expected, you may want to consider boarding up your windows and doors. You can learn more about preparing for a hurricane here

Above all, be sure to monitor the weather. Being prepared is the best defense against significant damage.

Fire 

There are a number of reasons a fire can start inside and outside your home. From unattended candles and fireplaces to kitchen accidents, home decor, and backyard grills, hazards are around every corner. Even a natural disaster like lightning can send a house up in flames in mere seconds. 

To protect your home and more importantly, your family:

  • Always have working smoke alarms on every floor of your home. 
  • Make an emergency evacuation plan.
  • Never leave open flames unattended.
  • Keep all gas tanks and grills a minimum of 10 feet from your home or other structures on your property. 
  • Don’t use a gas stove or fireplace to heat your home.
  • Ensure electrical wires are out of reach of children and pets. 
  • If you think you smell gas in your home, immediately go outside and away from your home and call the gas company.

Water Damage 

Perhaps one of the most frustrating problems as a homeowner is water damage. It can happen often, especially if you’re in a flood zone or an area prone to significant rainfall, and it may not be covered under your current policy. From freezing pipes in the fall and winter to storms in the spring and summer, you can experience water damage at any time. 

To reduce your risk, make sure doors and windows are properly sealed and gutters are cleaned. Once a year, you may always want to have your roof inspected for loose shingles. 

If you do experience significant water damage, we offer a sump pump coverage amendment. Contact us to learn more about your options

Liability 

Home insurance protects your physical home and belongings, but did you know it also protects you from a lawsuit? For example, a guest visits your home and they slip and fall on a wet staircase, then sue you for damages. Having insurance will save thousands in court and legal fees.

To help prevent accidents, make sure safety is always a priority before you have guests at your home. If you have a pool or trampoline, ensure that kids are never unattended. Also, keep walkways and staircases clear of debris. You can learn more about hosting safety tips on our blog here.

Theft and Loss

Damage and loss unfortunately happen, but there are a number of ways you can reduce your risk. 

First, even having a security sign in your yard can deter potential intruders. Keep walkways and doorways well lit at night so there are few hiding places and make sure to lock all doors and windows. Having an alarm system can always help protect your home and valuables when you’re in the house or away. To learn more about how to protect your home while you’re away on vacation, read our blog.

We hope these tips help you protect your family and your home. If you have more questions, we work with over 500 independent agents who are ready to help. Visit our website to find a local agent near you: bit.ly/QuincyFindAgent