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Snapchat “SNAP MAP” Safety

February 2nd, 2018 | No Comments | Posted in Personal Tips, Trips & Traps

Tips for Filing an Insurance Claim

January 4th, 2018 | No Comments | Posted in Personal Tips, Trips & Traps

Accidents and natural disasters can strike without warning, causing costly damage to your home, vehicles and personal belongings. When this happens, you will have to file an insurance claim in order for your policy to kick in and recoup your losses.

In order to get the most out of the claims process, consider the following tips:

  • Call your insurer as soon as an incident occurs. The quicker you get the process moving, the better. After you’ve contacted your insurer, you can ask an adjuster to come and inspect the damage.
     
  • Document your losses before the adjuster comes. Make a thorough list of property that has been impacted by a disaster. Provide purchase receipts, or estimate how much the belongings cost and when you bought them.
     
  • Take photographs of the accident scene, and don’t throw out damaged items before notifying your insurer.

Above all, it’s important to document the claims process, noting when you speak with your insurers and what the conversations entailed. This will help you track the amount of reimbursement you should receive and allow you to keep a record of insurance claims for future use.

Read our inSIGHTS Newsletter – January 2018 Issue here.

Home Inventory Checklist

November 9th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Personal Tips, Trips & Traps

Why create a home inventory checklist?

Though your homeowners insurance policy provides the protection that you need in the event of a loss such as a fire or burglary, your policy can only pay for items that you can document. In order to assure that all your prize possessions will be replaced, you should conduct a home inventory so you have a finite record of everything that you own. This inventory will assist you in determining which items were destroyed or stolen.

How should you conduct a home inventory?

To complete a full home inventory, walk through every room in your home and identify all of the contents. It is also wise to take photographs or make a video of all of your possessions, and keep this media documentation with your list. Then, place all of this information into a fireproof safe or safety deposit box at your bank.

Periodically, update this list as you purchase more items for your home.

How does a home inventory list relate to my insurance policy?

Not only can a household inventory checklist assist you in the event of a loss, it can also help you determine whether you have enough insurance coverage. Your coverage should equal the cost of your possessions at today’s prices. Items such as jewelry, furs and fine art should be appraised on a regular basis to ensure that you have enough insurance to cover their high-priced value.

Once you have completed your home inventory walk-thru, contact Hodge, Hart & Schleifer for more assistance with your insurance needs.

Download the Home Inventory Checklist here.

Disaster Donation Scams

October 3rd, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Personal Tips, Trips & Traps

“Take 3” Actions to Fight the Flu

October 3rd, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Personal Tips, Trips & Traps

Flu is a serious contagious disease that can lead to hospitalization and even death. 

CDC urges you to take the following actions to protect yourself and others from influenza (the flu): 

Step One

Take time to get a flu vaccine.

 

Take time to get a flu vaccine like this young boy from an older female nurse.

  • CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses.
  • While there are many different flu viruses, a flu vaccine protects against the viruses that research suggests will be most common. (See Vaccine Virus Selection for this season’s vaccine composition.)
  • Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations.
  • Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every year before flu activity begins in their community. CDC recommends getting vaccinated by the end of October, if possible.  Learn more about vaccine timing.
  • Vaccination of high risk persons is especially important to decrease their risk of severe flu illness.
  • People at high risk of serious flu complications include young children, pregnant women, people with certain chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease and people 65 years and older.
  • Vaccination also is important for health care workers, and other people who live with or care for high risk people to keep from spreading flu to them.
  • Children younger than 6 months are at high risk of serious flu illness, but are too young to be vaccinated. People who care for infants should be vaccinated instead.

Step Two

Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs.

 

Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs like this mother teaching her young child to wash hands.

  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
  • If you are sick with flu symptoms, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.
  • See Everyday Preventive Actions[257 KB, 2 Pages] and Nonpharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs) for more information about actions – apart from getting vaccinated and taking medicine – that people and communities can take to help slow the spread of illnesses like influenza (flu).

Step 3

Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them.

 

Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them like this older woman listening to her doctor.

  • If you get the flu, antiviral drugs can be used to treat your illness.
  • Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics. They are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaled powder) and are not available over-the-counter.
  • Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious flu complicationsFor people with high risk factors[702 KB, 2 Pages], treatment with an antiviral drug can mean the difference between having a milder illness versus a very serious illness that could result in a hospital stay.
  • Studies show that flu antiviral drugs work best for treatment when they are started within 2 days of getting sick, but starting them later can still be helpful, especially if the sick person has a high risk factor or is very sick from the flu. Follow your doctor’s instructions for taking this drug.
  • Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people also may have vomiting and diarrhea. People may be infected with the flu, and have respiratory symptoms without a fever.

Visit CDC’s website to find out what to do if you get sick with the flu.

Source: cdc.gov

Motivate Yourself!

October 3rd, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Personal Tips, Trips & Traps

2 Awesome Ways to Motivate Yourself When You Feel Like Quitting

We all have had times in our lives where we felt like giving up, and what we did next helped define who we are as people. Generally, we’re proud of the moments when we persevere and see our goals to the end rather than abandon them when the going gets tough. 

In this video, Entrepreneur Network partner Ben Angel explains two strategies you can use to motivate yourself when you feel like quitting.

The first is to remind yourself of everything you have to lose by quitting. Think about all the time, money and energy you’ve poured into your project, and you’ll realize that it’s actually more painful to quit than it is to keep going.

Click play to learn more about this and to learn Angel’s second tip.

Emergency Evacuation Plan

September 7th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Personal Tips, Trips & Traps

7 Steps to Prepare an Emergency Evacuation Plan

Well before a disaster or some unforeseen event strikes, you should be thinking about an evacuation plan in the event you and your family are forced to leave your home on short notice. Emergencies can come in a variety of forms with varying preparation times, from storms with fair warning to a more immediate crisis, such as a fire.

An evacuation plan that is spelled out and shared with your family members well in advance is a good strategy for success, and overall safety, in case of disaster. Consider where you will go and how you will get there, how you will stay in touch and who will know where you are.

Step 1: Designate a place for all family members to meet while ensuring the meeting place is outside the impacted evacuation area.

Step 2: Map out a primary evacuation route, including alternate routes in case your intended route is blocked.

Step 3: Create a communication plan for use if family members become separated. Develop an alternate plan that everyone is comfortable with in case there is no landline or cell service. Remember that during certain emergencies, public safety officials will communicate the need to evacuate and other developments through various methods including the news media, social media and alert broadcasts to smartphones. These can be valuable information resources for individual family members should anyone become separated.

Step 4: Be sure that you have ample fuel in your vehicle to reach your meeting place, remembering that you may not be able to take your preferred evacuation route.

Step 5: Identify a contact person outside the affected area and give that person’s contact information to everyone in the family so he or she can serve as a point of contact should you get separated.

Step 6: Share cell phone numbers for texting, as text messages will often go through if cell service deteriorates.

Step 7: Pack a survival kit and be sure it includes a portable radio, a cell phone charger, a charger for any tablets or laptops, as well as fresh batteries, to ensure you can get the most up-to-date information. Don’t forget to bring any vital medications.

How to Prepare for a Hurricane

September 7th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Personal Tips, Trips & Traps

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.

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.

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.

Keep Track with Our Emergency Checklist > 

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.

Home-Based Business Coverage

August 10th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Personal Tips, Trips & Traps

If you conduct business in your home, insuring your business properly is part of a solid risk management plan. We can help! CONTACT US TODAY: Tel: 240-644-6000

What Protection Does it Offer?

Common coverages for home-based businesses include personal business property, professional liability, business income, personal and advertising injury, loss of business data, crime and theft, workers’ compensation and auto coverage. Depending on the type of home-based business you have, not all coverages apply, and other coverage options may be available.

Coverage Options

Based on your business needs, you have three basic coverage options to choose from, depending on your level of risk:

  1. Homeowners Policy Endorsement. This provides the least amount of coverage and, therefore, is not ideal for most home-based businesses (depending on the level of risk). While it may provide enough coverage for a freelance writer with one computer and no business foot traffic, it’s not enough for someone who employs others, has clients visiting his or her home or has valuable business equipment and/or inventory.
  2. In-home Business Policy. More comprehensive than a homeowners policy endorsement, in-home business coverage is a stand-alone policy that provides higher amounts of coverage for business equipment and liability.
  3. Business Owners Policy, or BOP. A BOP bundles property and liability insurance into one policy. Created specifically for the small- to mid-size business, a BOP covers your business property and equipment, loss of income, extra expense and liability. It is the most comprehensive property and liability option. It does not include workers’ compensation, health or disability insurance, which are available as separate policies

What’s Your Risk?

While most homeowners insurance policies do cover a limited amount of business equipment—computers, copiers and printers, to name a few—it’s likely that what you own is worth more than your policy’s limits. Also, your homeowners liability insurance probably won’t cover any injuries that may occur to the employees or clients that you have on your premises. What’s a home-based businessperson to do?

We’re Here to Help

Properly insuring your home-based business is crucial to protecting both your business and your home. At Hodge, Hart & Schleifer, we understand the small business owner’s personal and business needs, and can help you tailor coverage that’s as unique as the products and services you provide. Contact us today at 240-644-6000 to learn more about how we can help you insure your livelihood.