How to choose the perfect appraiser for your property, art, antiques, jewelry, and other valuables

appraiserIf you have highly valuable, treasured property or possessions, you may need to get them appraised for insurance purposes. Many insurance carriers will insist on accurate valuation of property, art, antiques, jewelry, and other items so they can ensure the correct level of coverage and premium payment.

When you’re seeking out a good appraiser, here are some areas to consider:

Talk to your friends and colleagues

If you know other people who need to insure high-value items, talk to them about their experiences. Get recommendations on good appraisers and create a shortlist.

Look at professional qualifications

There are a variety of professional accreditations and qualifications depending on the fields an appraiser trains in. These include:

  • International Society of Appraiser’s credentials for fine art, antiques, and personal property.
  • A diploma in gemology for jewelry appraisal.
  • Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice exam for members of the American Society of Appraisers.
  • Principles of Valuation courses for members of the American Society of Appraisers.
  • Property appraisers should have one of the following designations from the Appraisal Institute — MAI Designation, SRPA Designation, SRA Designation, AI-GRS Designation, AI-RRS Designation.

There are various other exams and certifications available. Always check an appraiser’s qualifications to ensure they’re qualified to provide expert advice.

Check if they’re members of professional appraiser organizations

There are several industry bodies for appraisers. They include:

Many of these websites have membership directories for their appraisers.

Professional appraisers are required to uphold a strong code of ethics, including:

  • Providing truly independent valuation services, with no external influences.
  • Have no outside interest in the valued item, other than as providing a professional service.
  • Only carry out appraisal work in their area of expertise.
  • Consider all relevant factors when arriving at a valuation.
  • Treat and document property with the right level of care and respect.
  • Ensure personal remuneration and pay is independent of the value of property being appraised.

Interview your shortlist

When you have a shortlist of appraisers, call each one and ask questions about their area of expertise, qualifications, professional standards, and membership of industry bodies. Get a feel for what each appraiser is like and use that to decide which one would be right for your needs.

Remember that valuations change with time, many carriers will require updated valuations on a regular basis.

As always, if you have any questions about your scheduled property or how to get your property appraised, we are a phone call away!

Mary McGrath
Personal Lines Manager
mmcgrath@srfm.com

Appraiser

Ice dams, panty hose and ice melt – a winter trifecta

Ice DamsIf you’ve been listening to the predictions for this Winter here in the Northeast – we’re expecting a rough one! And along with a lot of snow comes those horrid ice dams – a serious problem that will not only do damage to your home, but also is a cause for many winter insurance claims.

If you happen to be new to the North – let me fill you in on what an ice dam is: When snow accumulates on a roof, a cycle of melting and refreezing occurs. In a perfect world, the snow would melt off the roof, enter the gutters, and flow harmlessly to the ground (before it gets too cold – make sure you clean those gutters and follow these other Fall cleaning tips). Or the snow would evaporate from the action of the sun, and never really melt off unless the outside temperature rose above the freezing point. However, two key factors interact to cause problems… the outside temperature and the temperature of the inside of your attic.

The warmer your attic is, the more melt off that occurs at the roof surface. This melted snow would normally flow off the edge of the roof. Under certain conditions, though, when air temperature is very low, the water refreezes at the edge of the roof, where the interior roof surface is not being warmed by the attic. This refreezing gradually forms what is fondly known as an “ice dam”, a growing heap of ice that blocks path of the melted snow.

Once this dam forms to a certain height, the melted snow that pools up behind it can suddenly leak back under the roof shingles and into your home! On a roof with a low slope, it only takes a small ice dam to cause water backup and leakage.I can tell you from personal experience – it’s not a fun situation, especially when water is leaking from the ceiling into your living room!

Now what do you do?

Fix the issue before it’s an issue: Increase the insulation, sealing and ventilation in your attic as soon as possible.

What if you already have an ice dam? Get rid of the ice damn as quickly as possible. A great quick fix is actually an “old farmer’s cures” from This Old House’s website.

  • Using a roof rake, remove snow 3-4 feet from the edge of your roof, being careful not to damage the roof covering or to allow snow to build up around walking paths or to block emergency exits.
  • Use a calcium chloride ice melt product, which you can generally purchase from your local hardware store. Be sure not to use rock salt or sodium chloride, which can damage your roof.
  • Fill a nylon stocking with the calcium chloride ice melt.
  • Safely place and position the calcium chloride-filled nylon stocking vertically across the ice dam so that it can melt a channel through the ice.

It’s a great way to reuse and recycle some old hose that may have runs or holes and it’s a heck of a lot easier than getting up on your roof trying to break apart the ice! Have a secret quick fix to dealing with ice damns – we’d love to hear it.

Stephen Davis
sdavis@srfm.com
Sinclair Risk & Financial Management

Ice Dams Steve Davis

Use caution when Decking the Halls!

Use caution when Decking the Halls!
Photo Credit: National Safety Council (nsc.org)

Every year without fail, insurance agents across the country handle thousands of claims involving home fires due to holiday decorations.  Sadly, most of these incidents could have been avoided saving the homeowners from heartache – and a lot of money.

Here are some great tips from the National Safety Council (Click HERE for the full brochure!)

TREES

Many artificial trees are fire resistant. Make sure when purchasing one, you look for a statement specifying this protection. Consider replacing your old tree if you aren’t certain it’s fire resistant

If you prefer a fresh tree, ensure it stays greener longer and is less of a fire hazard by keeping it watered.

To check for freshness, remember:

  • A fresh tree is green.
  • Fresh needles are hard to pull from branches.
  • When bent between your fingers, fresh needles do not break.
  • The trunk butt of a fresh tree is sticky with resin.
  • When the trunk of a tree is bounced on the ground, a shower of falling needles shows that tree is too dry.

LIGHTS

Regardless if you are using indoor or outdoor lights, make sure they have been tested for safety. Identify these by the label from an independent testing laboratory.

  • Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections.
  • Discard damaged sets or repair them before using.
  • Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house, walls or other firm support to protect from wind damage.
  • Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord.
  • Turn off all lights on trees and other decorations when you go to bed or leave the house. Lights could short and start a fire.
  • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree
  • Never use indoor lights for outdoor purposes

CANDLES

  • Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens.
  • Always use non-flammable holders.
  • Keep candles away from other decorations and wrapping paper.
  • Place candles where they cannot be knocked down or blown over.

TRIMMINGS

  • Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials.
  • Wear gloves while decorating with spun glass “angel hair” to avoid irritation to eyes and skin.
  • Choose tinsel or artificial icicles or plastic or nonleaded metals. Leaded materials are hazardous if ingested by children.
  • In homes with small children, take special care to:
    • Avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable.
    • Keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children. Pieces could be swallowed or inhaled.
    • Avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food. A child could eat them!

LAST BUT NOT LEAST – UNPLUG! Please don’t leave your tree lights plugged in or any holiday decorations plugged in when you are sleeping or away from your home.  Shorts and accidents can happen and will cause a fire.  Even a well hydrated Christmas tree will go up in flames quickly.  Take a quick peek at this video.   Christmas Tree Fire

Have a happy and safe holiday season!

Rachel Winslow
Personal Lines Account Executive
rwinslow@srfm.com

Deck the Halls

Fall Cleaning and Pre-Winterization

Fall Cleaning and Pre-WinterizationThe leaves begin to turn and a chill appears in the air; that’s our cue to pack up the summer gear, bust out the jackets and umbrellas, and get moving on the fall cleaning. Autumn is also the time to do some critical maintenance around the house and put some efficient (and money saving) pre-winterization measures in place. With a dedicated weekend and a solid plan, you can make the transition into the colder season a very smooth and painless one.

Here’s the plan:

I approach fall cleaning with a long-term strategy in mind. The plan is to close down summer, get ready for fall, and lay the ground work for winter. We’re not preparing for sub zero temperatures and 4 feet of snow just yet, but the coming months will bring rain, chilly days and even colder nights.  So let’s get ready for it.

First things first;

Basic Fall Cleaning

The first step in preparing for fall is cleaning up after summer. Here are some of the basic cleaning tasks that should be part of your fall cleaning routine:

  • Wash the windows (inside and out)
  • Remove and deep clean the window treatments
  • Clean walls and fixtures
  • Clean ceiling and light fixtures
  • Clean carpets as needed (muddy season is coming so it’s best to start fresh)
  • Clean baseboard heaters if you have them (soon you’ll be turning on the heat)
  • Clean the patio furniture and if you have a deck, clean it really well (we’ll talk more about the deck later)

How deep you go with your cleaning depends on what the summer handed you and how well you cleaned back in spring. If you feel the need to go deeper, you can find some great fall cleaning checklists online to get inspired. 

Once you have the cleaning done, the next step is getting your home prepped for wind, rain, and chill.

Essentials for Pre-Winterizing Your Home

It’s not the deep freeze, but it’s the big chill (along with some rain, mud, and possibly a little sleet). So in order to get ready, do some routine maintenance and periodic checks on things around the house. When the freeze hits, you’ll be happy you did so.

Here’s a list of essentials:

Clean the gutters: Leaves will be falling soon so make sure you don’t start behind the 8-ball.

Inspect the roof: While you’re up there cleaning the gutters take a look for loose or missing shingles. Also pop up in the attic during the day so you can see if any sunlight is creeping in through potential gaps or cracks in the roof.

 Replace the filter in the furnace: You want the heat to actually come on and be warm the first time you need it, so check for proper operation of the furnace and thermostat. Here are some gas furnace maintenance tips and some oil furnace maintenance tips to help you out.

Check the fireplace: Check for proper flue operation and for any obstructions in the chimney. If you used your fireplace frequently last season, call in a professional chimney sweep to get your chimney cleaned out and ready for the season.

Check your smoke and Co2 detectors: Make sure alarms are working and replace batteries as needed.

Check for drafts: Check doors and windows throughout the house for gaps that can let heat out and let in cool air in. That’s money in heating bills going literally out the window. It’s best to catch those drafts now so you have plenty of time to seal them up before it gets really cold. Here are some tips for checking the house for drafts

Clean out the clothes dryer vent: This one is often overlooked but lint regularly accumulates in the vent hose leading from the dryer to the outdoors. If the hose gets clogged it can be a fire hazard, and a clogged dryer vent can also significantly inhibit the performance of your dryer causing it to work overtime, which in turn will drive up your energy bill.

 Autumn in New England; It’s a great time to throw a log on the fire, warm up a hot cider and enjoy a good book as the leaves fall outside your living room window. Sounds beautiful, but fall is also a time that can bring clogged gutters, drafty houses, and leaky roofs. It’s kind of a buzz kill I know, but I want you to be prepared. That’s what we do at Sinclair, we think forward and we create strategies to take on the challenges that lie ahead.

Check out our Homeowners Insurance for total piece of mind coverage and in the meantime, put your fall cleaning and pre-winterization strategy in action now and you’ll be totally freed up later to sit back and enjoy the finer points of the season.

Mary McGrath
Personal Lines Manager
mmcgrath@srfm.com

Fall Cleaning and Pre-Winterization

Home Buyer 101: Basics for First Time Buyers

Home Buyer 101: Basics for First Time BuyersBuying your first home is one of the most exciting times in life. Embarking on the path to being a homeowner is your dream, and in your heart you’re ready for it. It’s a big deal, and buying a home for the first time can be one of the scariest most nerve-wracking experiences of your life. But it doesn’t have to be.

You wouldn’t be human if you weren’t just a little stressed out by embarking on such a monumental endeavor. But you can take a lot of the fear and anxiety out of the equation by doing two things: Get prepared financially to take on a mortgage, and choose your home wisely. Let’s talk.

Get Financially Prepared

Getting your finances in order is first and foremost. You have to know where you stand going into the process and I suggest not shopping around and falling in love with any particular property until you know exactly what you can afford (this will help you avoid a potential heartbreak). When you have your number, you can set your shopping expectations from there.

Here’s what you need to do:

Check Your Credit Score: Check your FICO scores from the three main credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union) to get a clear picture of where you stand. If your scores differ drastically, expect that lenders will use the median score. If you have two scores that are the same, lenders will use that score.

Credit score websites will give you a generic idea of what your score is but lenders use a slightly different model to calculate the score they will consider. Generally speaking, if your credit score is above 740 you’re in good shape. Below that, you can work on raising your score. If you’re below 720 and into the 600’s you won’t be looking at the best interest rates on your mortgage.

According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you are entitled to a free credit report every 12 months from each of the three bureaus. You can find out how to get your free credit reports on the Federal Trade Commission website.

 Calculate your Debt to Income Ratio: Typically, a debt to income ratio of 43% or less is required to obtain a Qualified Mortgage. To calculate your debt to income ratio add up all of your monthly debt payments and divide that by your gross monthly income. If you’re over 43%, or hovering around that number, pay down some credit cards and loans if you’re able.

Consider Your Down Payment: Ask yourself – What do I have in the bank and what am I able to put down on a home? Experts suggest that a down payment of 20% is ideal. This not only lowers your monthly mortgage payment to begin with, it may help you to avoid paying Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) which can lower your monthly payment even more.

Consider cost of ownership: After calculating mortgage rates and monthly payments think about it will cost to own the home you’re looking at. What kind of home are you getting into? What are your projected maintenance costs on that home? What will your property tax be? Is there a homeowners association with dues? These things will obviously add to your cost of ownership so think it through and be realistic.

Choose Your Home Wisely

Once you’re financially prepared, it’s time to start the home selection process (the place where your dreams and reality find a happy medium). Being smart about your purchase transcends income brackets and housing markets.  Here are a few things to be smart about:

Get an Inspection: Before you can seriously consider a property you have to know what you’re getting in to. Review the inspection report carefully if one exists. If not, have an inspection conducted by a licensed professional before entering into any serious negotiations with the buyer. This is where a lawyer would come in handy.

Get a Lawyer!: All New England states as well as several other states across the country have laws mandating a lawyer be present during the closing of real estate transactions. Even if your state doesn’t require it, having a lawyer oversee the transaction is never a bad idea especially when you’re making what will most likely be the largest purchase of your life.

Stay Open Minded While Shopping: Consider tolerating little imperfections in exchange for a lower purchase price. If the home has all of the features that are difficult to find (like location and size), maybe you can deal with the ugly tile in the bathroom for a bit. It will cost you less to make minor improvements to a home after the purchase, then what you spend on a higher purchase price for the house with the “perfect bathroom”. Think about it.

Get Insured: It’s your new castle and the biggest investment of your life, so when you close the deal on your new home (congratulations) make sure you have the right Homeowners Protection in place for it.

If you’re embarking on the home buying process for the first time, good luck. Be smart, take your time, and make good decisions. A mortgage is a big move and a long road, so make sure to set yourself up well for the journey ahead.

Sinclair Risk Management has experts standing by ready to help you protect your real estate investments. Get in touch with us for questions, support, or a no-obligation Homeowners Insurance quote anytime.

Rachel Winslow
Personal Lines Account Executive
rwinslow@srfm.com

Home Buyer 101: Basics for First Time Buyers

How High-Net-Worth Individuals Can Protect Their Assets from Lawsuits

Flood Insurance Rethinking Coastal LivingHigh-net-worth individuals face a greater risk of being sued, especially when unemployment is high and economic growth is tenuous.

According to a survey by ACE Private Risk Services, 80% of households with $5 million or more in assets believe their wealth makes them a target for lawsuits. These are real fears. Under the doctrine of joint and several liability, any defendant can be held accountable for a plaintiff’s injury, so smart lawyers will target the defendant with the highest net worth.

In spite of this, less than 40% have coverage of more than $5 million and 21% have no coverage at all.

Many wealthy families leave themselves open to liability and preventable lawsuits for two reasons:

  1. They underestimate the cost of damages they could be forced to pay.
  2. They assume the cost of effective protection is higher than it really is.

Typical homeowners’ and auto insurance policies will only cover $300,000 to $500,000 in damages, but lawsuits in the millions are common.

It’s important to purchase coverage that prepares for the extreme cases, not just the likely ones. Trusts and foreign accounts can shield some assets from litigation, but courts have tremendous reach. The best way to protect yourself is with excess liability or umbrella liability insurance.

Both policies are far cheaper than most people realize. They often cost just a few hundred dollars per policy for millions of dollars of coverage. This cost can be offset with slightly higher deductibles in other policies.

People often confuse umbrella liability insurance and excess liability insurance. While both protect people and businesses from dramatic loses by giving them access to additional coverage, they have a few differences.

What is excess liability insurance?

Excess liability insurance is an extension for another type of liability insurance. When a claim is reported to your insurance company, the underlying primary policy is the first to pay. If there are more damages, the excess liability insurance picks up the rest (up to your policy limit).

Excess liability insurance adds additional coverage to only that policy. It can’t be applied to another policy. If coverage isn’t provided by your underlying policy, it isn’t provided by the excess liability policy either. Excess liability insurance usually pays for the legal costs of defending the claim.

What is umbrella liability insurance?

Umbrella liability insurance is similar to excess liability insurance, but it can be applied to multiple underlying policies. It can also cover claims that are not included in the underlying policies.

For an umbrella policy to cover a claim, clients need to pay self-insured retention. This is like a deductible, but it’s paid directly to the claimant.

It’s important to make sure your policies work together without gaps. For example, if your umbrella policy is set to pay damages in excess of $500,000, make sure your other policies cover you up to $500,000. If there’s a gap, you could be forced to pay.

For the best protection, combine your insurance policies with a single company. This reduces the overall cost of your insurance and provides a single, coordinated legal defense in the event of a lawsuit.

Rachel Winslow

Personal Lines Account Executive

rwinslow@srfm.com

How High-Net-Worth Individuals Can Protect Their Assets from Lawsuits

 

Managing Home Renovation Risks

Managing Home Renovation RisksHome renovations are on the rise; In fact, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University’s Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA), annual home improvement spending growth is expected to increase from 2.4% in the last quarter of 2015 to 6.8% in the second quarter of 2016.  Bolstered by 2015’s favorable housing market condition, which included new construction, price gains and sales, homeowners are investing in improvements to their homes.

If you’re finally tackling that kitchen remodel or adding an in-law suite, don’t wait to think about the risks that come with home renovations.  Here are four tips to make sure you’re protected before your project even gets underway:

  • Vet Your Contractor & Subcontractors – Take your time choosing a general contractor, who orchestrates your entire project.  Beyond just word-of-mouth and online reviews, ask to speak with former clients who had similar renovation projects and check the contractor’s reputation with the Better Business Bureau.  As you’re choosing your general contractor, also be sure to get their license number and verify it.  Additionally, ask to see a copy of their insurance policy (and don’t be afraid to call their carrier) and make sure they have adequate coverage, including worker’s compensation to cover any workers who could be hurt on the job.  Beyond coverage, also make sure you’re aware of everyone who will be working in your home every day and, if needed, run background checks. 
  • Get It In Ink – Didn’t think through the removal and disposal of your old appliances?  Don’t rely on verbal agreements or side conversations for any aspect of your renovation.  Make sure you get an estimate and proposed contract from your general contractor before the project begins and that everything is covered, including the timeline, payment details and how you’ll address approvals and any unexpected projects and costs. 
  • Check Your Coverage - Contact your insurance agent to talk through your renovation and make sure you understand your coverage.  If there are any gaps in coverage for your contractor or subcontractors, make sure speak with your insurance agent about that as well, as you may need to extend the limits of liability in your homeowners policy. 
  • Protect Your (New) Investment –If you’re adding onto your home, don’t wait until it’s complete to increase the insurance coverage on the structure of your home, as you may not be covered if the addition is destroyed or damaged before your coverage has increased.  Similarly, if you purchase new items like that baby grand piano you’ve been wanting or new TVs or furniture to fill your new space, also make sure you let your insurance agent know in case you need to increase your coverage for personal possessions.

A home renovation can be financially and emotionally stressful.  However, at Sinclair Risk & Financial Management, we’re here to help ensure you’re protected and covered and starting your renovation on a solid foundation.

Stephen Davis

sdavis@srfm.com

Sinclair Risk& Financial Management

Managing Home Renovation Risks

Home Renovation 101: Four Steps you MUST do before you pick up the hammer

AConnecticut High Value Home Insurance When to Hire a Professionals the seasons change, homeowners begin to think about tackling that latest house project – from redoing a kitchen to installing a pool to adding on an addition. 

Whether your plans are small or large, make sure you’re prepared and covered before a shovel goes into the ground or a paint brush touches the wall.   Some people take the do-it-yourself route, tackling parts of renovations themselves and hiring subcontractors for plumbing and electrical work while others hire a general contractor to manage the renovation process from start to finish.

No matter which route you go, here are four things to do before you get started on that renovation:

1.    Make Sure You’re Covered:  The last thing on your renovation “To Do” list may be checking your insurance policy.  However, before you get started, it’s important to verify you’re covered for any situation.  As the homeowner, you need to make sure you have adequate liability coverage as part of your homeowner’s policy in case someone is hurt on your property.  Similarly, make sure that your general contractor and subcontractors (i.e. – electricians and plumbers) have adequate coverage.  And don’t take a contractor’s word for it – ask for not only their insurance certificate and license number, but verify the contractor’s licensing status and ask to see your contractor’s policy.  A general contractor’s policy should have coverage in three major areas: general liability, worker’s comp and builder’s risk.

 2.    Do Your Permitting Research: Does your remodel project require a building permit?  In general, permits are required for projects that aren’t just cosmetic.  Everything from installing a fence to moving a sink may require a permit so, when in doubt, do your research; or if you’ve hired a general contractor, make sure you know the permit requirements, timing, costs and inspection details.  Most towns also have ordinances, such as building heights, that need to be understood and can usually be found on the local town’s website.  Keep in mind that if work is performed without a permit and something happens, your homeowner’s policy will usually not cover it.

3.    Call Before You Dig:  Similar to obtaining the correct permits, if your project will require any digging, make sure you call 811 prior to digging.  Call several days before the work is planned to allow adequate time for utility companies to be notified of your intent to dig.  A representative will come out and mark the location of underground utility lines.

4.    Invest For Long-term Savings: As you plan your renovation, look for savings.  If you’re undertaking a kitchen remodel or installing a new roof, think about putting in energy efficient appliances or installing solar panels.  Also, if you update certain systems like your plumbing, heating or electrical, or any other features that improve the safety and efficiency of your home, keep in mind that the investment can offer you long-term savings on things like your energy costs and potentially your homeowner’s insurance policy. 

Home renovations can be a huge undertaking, but the end result is worth it.  Make sure you go into your project with a solid foundation.  At Sinclair Risk & Financial Management, we’re here to help you ensure you’re protected and covered before you tackle your house project.

Rachel Winslow
Account Executive
rwinslow@srfm.com

Home Renovation 101: Four Steps you MUST do before you pick up the hammer

7 Insurance red flags when shopping for a new home

Red-flagWhether it’s juicy Pinterest images of fashion forward quartz kitchen countertops, or creative cork flooring that catches the eye in Dwell Magazine, the latest must-haves saturate the minds of home buyers. But what many home shoppers don’t realize is that insurers are evaluating homes with a very different set of criteria.

When it comes to homeowner’s insurance, you want your home to be “preferred.” There are carriers who will cover “non-preferred” homes but that route is costly and time consuming, to the point of potentially upending a closing.

Your dream home may have granite and bamboo, but if it also has any of these insurance red flags, it may be difficult, expensive, or impossible to secure homeowner’s coverage.

Safety hazards — First, your insurance inspector will train a very keen eye on the basics of the property, looking for anything that might pose a safety risk. Are there stairs with loose or missing railings? A broken step? What is the condition of the roof, the plumbing, the electrical system? Is there evidence of water damage? A “yes” to any of these will warrant further investigation at least and likely a full remedy before you can get a policy. 

Underground oil tanks — You do NOT want to “strike oil” in the form of a tank under the ground of your new home. Most carriers will not insure a property with an underground oil tank. Those that will may specifically refuse to provide any liability or environmental coverage for them, placing risk squarely on your shoulders. We strongly advise against this! Rather than pay higher premiums and accept the risk, it’s a better, much less expensive option to have the tank removed.

Swimming pools without a fence — Swimming pools are not an insurance deal breaker (though they can command higher premiums), so long as they are adequately protected with a fence and lockable gate. Some insurers will not cover a pool that has a diving board or a slide, even with a fence. 

Trampolines — The number of injuries sustained from using trampolines is astonishing: more than one million in the 10-year period of 2002 to 2011, according to the Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics. Consequently, most insurers simply will not cover a home that has one. If you plan to purchase a home with a trampoline, ask the seller to remove it before you buy.

High-risk animals — Most insurers will not cover homes with a “high-risk breed” dog. Each carrier has its own list of prohibited breeds. Common ones include Pit Bulls, Akitas, Chows, and Rottweilers. Certain other animals make insurers skittish as well, including horses and farm animals. Ownership of these animals will not necessarily prevent coverage, but they do tend to make it more expensive.

Being in a fire safety “desert” — Generally speaking, your insurance costs will rise with the distance your home is from a fire station or fire hydrant: the farther away, the higher your “PC” or Fire Protection Class. If a home is more than 5 miles from a fire station or more than 1,000 feet from a fire hydrant, it is a PC 10, the point at which most insurers will either not cover the property or charge a correspondingly high premium.

Day care business — Some carriers will insure a home with a day care business via an additional endorsement (for an additional premium), but others will not cover any home that houses a business with substantial foot traffic. Home offices and businesses that have incidental traffic are usually not a problem.

If you’re home shopping and curious about other potential insurance red flags, call me today and I’ll be happy to help.

Stephen Davis

sdavis@srfm.com

Sinclair Risk& Financial Management

_JBK5366

How to keep safe during the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

_JBK5366It’s officially the holiday season! You’re ready to pick out the perfect tree, drag the ornaments out of storage, and make the house look like a winter wonderland. After all it IS the most wonderful time of the year – and we’d like to help you keep it that way.

According to the American Red Cross, there are over 45,000 house fires during the holiday season – costing over $550 million in property damage, and causing over 2,000 injuries and 500 deaths.

Luckily, we have some easy and helpful tips to help you keep the yuletide cheer going strong – although none to help deal with crazy Uncle Joe or your nosey in-laws!

If you buy a real Christmas tree, make sure the needles are green and fresh, and water it daily. When purchasing a fake Christmas tree, ensure it’s made of flame retardant material.

SRFM trees

Keep your tree, stockings, and any other holiday decorations at least 3 feet away from a heat source – this includes candles, fireplaces, radiators, and heat vents.

Don’t use any lights or decorations that have frayed electrical cords. Don’t use indoor Christmas lights outside. Limit the number of connected light strands to 3 sets.

Trim candle wicks back to ¼ of an inch and keep them 12 inches away from any other object. Extinguish candles before heading to bed or leaving the house.

Don’t throw boxes or wrapping paper into fireplaces.

Remember to set timers while cooking. Don’t leave food unattended for long periods of time. Turn off all appliances when you leave the house. Have a fire extinguisher on hand, just in case.

The holidays are a time for joy and celebration, so make sure you are taking the proper safety precautions to keep what matters most – your family and friends – safe from fire hazards this season.

Happy Holidays from all of us at Sinclair Risk and Financial Management!

Steve Davis

SDavis@srfm.com