Servicing DC, MD & VA

Hurricane Preparation at Home

October 6th, 2016 | Comments Off on Hurricane Preparation at Home | Posted in Personal Tips, Trips & Traps

From June through November, hurricanes are at their peak. During a hurricane, heavy rains and catastrophic winds barrel through coastal areas and can severely damage or destroy homes and businesses. To help you plan and remain safe at home during these potentially deadly storms, follow these safety tips.



The authorities in your area will send out an “all clear” notice indicating that it is safe for you to leave your home. Until that time, remain inside where you are safer.

During Hurricane Season

  • Plan evacuation routes and designate a “post-disaster contact person” that family members know to call once the storm is over.
  • Stock up on items such as bottled water, canned goods, manual can/bottle opener, flashlights, battery-operated radio, nails, tarps and plywood.
  • Keep an up-to-date log of all of your possessions with photographs and videos, and review your home insurance policy.
  • Trim your trees and shrubs to minimize damage.

When a Hurricane Threatens

  • Cover windows and doors and secure outdoor furniture.
  • Make sure you have three gallons of water per family member.
  • Refill your prescriptions, fill up your car with gas and withdraw a week’s worth of cash since power outages may interrupt these services temporarily.
  • Place important, valuable papers such as your log of possessions in waterproof bags.
  • If you live in a trailer home and are told to evacuate, do so immediately.

During a Hurricane

  • You should have canned food for at least three days and a can opener.
  • Listen to your battery-operated radio for instructions from the local authorities on evacuation and safety guidelines.
  • Seek shelter in an interior room away from windows, such as a closet. If you hear the winds subside, do not assume that the storm is over. The calm may be the eye of the storm, in which the worst part is yet to come.
  • If the electricity goes out, use a flashlight to see; do not use candles.

After a Hurricane

  • Make sure you have pet food and supplies for three days.
  • When inspecting your home for damage, wear sturdy shoes and clothing as protection.
  • Contact a trained expert to turn off damaged utilities and appliances instead of trying to do it yourself.
  • Drink only bottled water until tap water is deemed safe.

Named Storm Deductibles

October 6th, 2016 | Comments Off on Named Storm Deductibles | Posted in Personal Tips, Trips & Traps

shutterstock_434705590The heavy rainfall, high winds and storm surges associated with hurricanes and other intense storms can devastate any business, even those located hundreds of miles off of a coast. And, because these storms have the potential to cause tens of billions of dollars in damage, insurance providers generally use special, “named storm deductibles,” to provide coverage in the event of a loss.

Named storm deductibles are typically higher than traditional fixed-dollar deductibles, but are only triggered under specific circumstances and can vary based on location. However, it’s important to know the details of these deductibles so your business is prepared in the event of a severe storm.

What’s in a Name?

Named storm deductibles are triggered by just that—a tropical depression, tropical storm or hurricane that is severe enough to be named by the National Weather Service (NWS).

The NWS first started to name storms to make it easier for the public to track and follow severe storms as they developed. However, after large hurricanes and tropical storms began to cause large amounts of damage, insurance providers began looking for ways to mitigate their losses. Named storm deductibles, tied to the time periods surrounding NWS-named storms, ensure that insurance providers are responsible for a smaller portion of any loss caused by a named storm.

It’s important to note that other organizations have started to name storms. The Weather Channel, a privately owned weather organization, recently began naming winter storms in order to make tracking them easier for its viewers. However, insurance providers only apply named storm deductibles to storms named by the NWS.

The Triggers for Named Storm Deductibles

The triggers for named storm deductibles can vary based on the insurance provider and location, although almost all triggers generally include a timing window, such as 24 hours before a storm is named by the NWS to 48 hours after it is downgraded to a tropical storm. During this window, your named storm deductible will apply to any damage instead of a normal wind and hail deductible.

Other triggers can include when a hurricane makes landfall or when a hurricane watch is declared. Because the triggers for named storm deductibles can vary significantly, it’s important to look up the exact rules as defined by the state you live in and your specific insurance policy.

Price Differences

Named storm deductibles are generally higher than regular deductibles because they are based on a percentage rather than on a fixed dollar amount. Most named storm deductibles are between 1 and 5 percent of your total insured amount, but in high-risk areas, deductibles can reach as high as 10 percent.

For example, imagine that your business is insured for $1.5 million. If your business is damaged by normal wind or hail, you would pay a regular, fixed-dollar deductible before your insurance provider would provide coverage for the remaining damage. However, if the damage was caused during the window of a named storm deductible, your deductible would be calculated using a percentage. For a 5 percent deductible, this would amount to an out-of-pocket expense of $75,000 before your insurance provider would pay for damages.

What it Means for You

Deductibles for damage caused by named storms are higher in order to mitigate the financial risk to insurance providers while still offering premiums that are relatively low. Additionally, many insurance providers believe that the high deductibles will encourage business owners to take proactive steps to protect their businesses from severe storms.

For more information on named storm deductibles, or for tips to protect your business from severe storms, contact us at 240-644-6000 today.

Halloween Safety Tips

October 5th, 2016 | Comments Off on Halloween Safety Tips | Posted in Live Well, Work Well

For some Americans, Halloween is one of the most anticipated holidays. Unfortunately, it can also be rather dangerous. Use the following suggestions to help keep your child safe this year.

Costume Safety Tips


  • Choose fire-resistant costumes, wigs and accessories.
  • Avoid potentially dangerous props, like hard swords.
  • Opt for non-toxic face paint or makeup instead of masks.
  • Decorate costumes and treat bags with reflective tape if your child will be out after dark.

Trick-or-treating Safety Tips

  • Accompany children under 12 at all times.
  • Insist that trick-or-treating only be done in familiar areas.
  • Plan a route if older children are going alone.
  • Designate a specific time for children to return home.
  • Instruct children to never enter a stranger’s car or home.
  • Remind children to always look both ways before crossing a street, to be aware of their surroundings and to use sidewalks whenever possible.
  • Tell your children not to eat any treats until they return home.
  • Discard treats that appear to be open or tampered with.

For more tips on how to celebrate Halloween safely, click here.

View more Live Well, Work Well tips here.

Large Deductible Discount

October 5th, 2016 | Comments Off on Large Deductible Discount | Posted in Hedda's Hints

We recommend a large Homeowner’s policy deductible. You should save your policy for large losses that create a financial hardship. A pattern of small claims could land you with a sub-standard insurance company where you could pay an outrageous premium. Your policy is not a maintenance contract.   Protect your home’s future insurability.

Consider increasing your deductible to at least $1,000. The discount can be substantial. See How Much You Can Save!


Best Halloween Events in DC

October 5th, 2016 | Comments Off on Best Halloween Events in DC | Posted in Spotlight on the Community

Looking for some great Halloween fun in the Washington, DC Area? During the month of October, celebrate Halloween and get spooked at a haunted house, romp around a pumpkin patch or go on a haunted city tour or through a haunted forest in Washington, DC, Maryland or Virginia.


Fright Fest at Six Flags America
September 24- October 31, 2016.

Upper Marlboro, Maryland. Enjoy the spooky attractions and shows at one of the Washington, DC Area’s largest Halloween celebrations. Enjoy a family friendly event with street entertainment, your favorite rides in the dark and a special trick-or-treat trail just for kids.

Halloween Haunt at Kings Dominion
September 30 – October 30, 2016.

Doswell, Virginia. The amusement park features ten mazes, six scare zones and more than 20 thrilling rides. While the attractions of Haunt bring out the scares at night, families and children will enjoy the all-new Planet Snoopy during the day, featuring Halloween family-favorite activities, including a hay maze, pumpkin painting, the chance to get behind the wheel of a pedal tractor, live entertainment and more.

Boo at the Zoo
October 21-23, 2016, 5:30-8:30 p.m. National Zoo, Washington, DC. Visit bats, spiders, owls, and other animals at the zoo while trick-or-treating. Enjoy animal encounters, keeper talks, festive decorations, and haunted trails at the annual National Zoo’s Halloween celebration.

Costumed volunteers will hand out candy at more than 40 treat stations.

Night of the Living Zoo
October 28, 2016, 6:30 – 10 p.m. National Zoo, Washington DC. Wear your best costume while enjoying the zoo by moonlight. Experience bone-chilling and mind-boggling performance art including palm readers, fire eaters, talking bats, and illusionists.

You must be at least 21 years old to attend this event. A valid ID is required for admission. This is an adults-only event.

Pumpkin Patches in the Washington DC Area
Find the best pumpkin patches and fall festivals in the DC area, including Maryland and Virginia. Enjoy family-friendly farm activities and enjoy the Halloween and fall harvest season.

Corn Mazes in Maryland and Virginia
In recent years, this has become a favorite family fun way to celebrate the Halloween season. Stroll through a giant corn maze and find puzzle pieces that will complete your own maze map.

Ghost Tours in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia
Take a guided walking tour and hear ghost stories and legends about infamous haunted places such as Lafayette Square Park, Historic Alexandria or downtown Annapolis. Find ghost tours around the region.

Raven’s Night
October 22, 2016, The Birchmere Music Hall, Alexandria, VA. The unique Halloween event includes three distinct shows woven into one: mesmerizing world-class dance performances at Cabaret Melancholia; a dinner concert featuring live music at Salon Lunaire; and a pre-show event combining an alternative World’s Fair-styled exposition and sideshow including the magic of Eric Henning, sideshow performances by Charlie Artful and Tarot card reading at the All Hallow’s Eve Exposition.

DC Drag Queen Race
October 25, 2016. A crowd gathers in Dupont Circle for an informal street parade and race of costumed drag queens. This is one of the most popular local Halloween events. See photos and details.

Halloween Costume Parties in Washington, DC for Adults
For adults ages 21 and over. Gather your friends and get creative and dress up for a night of fun and frolicking. Find the details of nightclub events.

Halloween Parades Around the Washington DC Area
Get in the spirit of the season and check out the season’s most popular and creative costumes. Many communities around the region host a parade to encourage kids to show off their costumes.

Costume Contests for Your Dog in the Washington DC Area
Do you like to dress your pet up for Halloween? The Washington DC area hosts many costume contests for you and your dog.

Air & Scare at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
October 22, 2016, 2-7 p.m. National Air and Space Museum, Chantilly, Virginia. Join creepy space aliens, mysterious astronauts and ghostly pilots for safe, indoor trick-or-treating. Visitors will enjoy story times, face-painting stations, hands-on activities, free screenings of an episode of “The Jetsons” in the Imax Theater, karaoke, simulation games and robotics demonstrations.

Blood and Guts Run
October 22, 2016, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Bull Run Regional Park, Centreville, VA. The event includes bands, food trucks, costume competitions, a DJ dance party, and a wild 5k zombie obstacle course.

Halloween Trains at Montgomery Parks
Weekends throughout October. Montgomery Parks offers two different Halloween-themed train rides; a fun and festive ride (geared to ages 8 and under) at Cabin John Regional Park and a very scary option (for ages 8 and up) at Wheaton Regional Park. Visitors are encouraged to bring canned food items for drives at each location.

Source: dc.about.com

Fall Cleaning Chore Checklist

October 5th, 2016 | Comments Off on Fall Cleaning Chore Checklist | Posted in Lifestyle


It’s Autumn. Pumpkins glow in golden fields. Shorter days, crisp mornings signal winter’s approach.

Can the holidays be far behind?

Use Autumn’s brisk and breezy days to conquer deep-cleaning chores for a clean and comfortable winter home, and to wrap up summer’s outdoor lifestyle.

Our Fall Cleaning Chore Checklist will help you prepare home and hearth for the coming of winter:

Outside The House

Summer’s come and gone–and left its mark on outside the house.

Time to come inside for winter! Outside the house tend to these autumn chores:

  • Clean and store patio furniture, umbrellas, children’s summer toys.
  • Touch up paint on trim, railings and decks. Use a wire brush to remove flaking paint; prime bare wood first.
  • Check caulk around windows and doors. Follow manufacturer’s recommendations to re-caulk if needed.
  • Inspect external doors and garage doors. Do they close tightly? Install weather-stripping, door thresholds if needed.
  • Wash exterior windows.
  • Drain and store garden hoses. Install insulating covers on exterior spigots. In hard-freeze areas, have sprinkler systems blown free of water.
  • Check gutters and downspouts. Clear of debris if necessary. In cold-weather areas, consider installing heating cable to prevent ice dams.
  • Have chimneys and flues inspected and cleaned if necessary.

The Inside Story:

Autumn’s the time for “spring cleaning”! With winter coming, it makes sense to tuck the family into a freshly-cleaned home via fall cleaning.

Deep clean now to take advantage of good weather and to welcome approaching holidays with a clean and comfortable home.

To learn how to clean efficiently, check out the Clean House Guide for more information on cleaning fast and furious.

  • Focus on public rooms: living room, family room, entryway, guest bath.
  • Clean from top to bottom. Vacuum drapes and window treatments. Clean window sills and window wells. Vacuum baseboards andcorners.
  • Vacuum upholstered furniture, or have professionally cleaned if needed. Move furniture and vacuum beneath and behind it.
  • Wash interior windows.
  • Turn mattresses front-to-back and end-to-end to equalize wear.
  • Launder or clean all bedding: mattress pads, pillows, duvets, blankets, comforters. Tuck the family into a warm and cozy winter bed.
  • Schedule professional carpet cleaning early this month! Warm October afternoons speed carpet drying. Carpet cleaning firms get busy by the end of October, so schedule now for best service.
  • Prepare the kitchen for holiday cooking. Clean and organized kitchen cabinets, paying particular attention to baking supplies, pans and equipment.
  • Clear kitchen counters of all appliances not used within the last week. Clear counters look cleaner–and provide more room for holiday cooking.
  • Pull refrigerator away from the wall, and vacuum the condenser coils. For bottom-mounted coils, use a long, narrow brush to clean coils of dust and debris.
  • Wash light-diffusing bowls from light fixtures.
  • Inspect each appliance. Does it need supplies? Stock up on softener salt now, and avoid staggering over icy sidewalks with heavy bags.
  • Check and empty the central vacuum’s collection area.
  • Clean electronic air cleaner elements monthly for most efficient operation. Wash them in an empty dishwasher (consult manual for specific product recommendations).
  • Clean or replace humidifier elements before the heating season begins.
  • Inspect washer hoses for bulges, cracks or splits. Replace them every other year.
  • Check dryer exhaust tube and vent for built-up lint, debris or birds’ nests! Make sure the exterior vent door closes tightly when not in use.
  • Schedule fall furnace inspections now. Don’t wait for the first cold night!
  • Buy a winter’s supply of furnace filters. Change filters monthly for maximum energy savings and indoor comfort. When the right filter is on hand, it’s an easy job!
  • Drain sediment from hot water heaters.

Fall and Winter Energy-Saving Tips

October 5th, 2016 | Comments Off on Fall and Winter Energy-Saving Tips | Posted in Lifestyle


This article will help you find strategies to help you save energy during the cool fall and cold winter months. Some of the tips below are free and can be used on a daily basis to increase your savings; others are simple and inexpensive actions you can take to ensure maximum savings through the winter.

If you haven’t already, conduct an energy audit to find out where you can save the most, and consider making a larger investment for long-term energy savings.

Also check out no-cost and low-cost tips to save energy during the spring and summer.


Photo of a window with the curtains open. Sun is shining into the room and snow-covered mountains are visible outside. Copyright iStockphoto.com/Giorgio Fochesato.

  • Open curtains on your south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home, and close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.


  • Use a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet on a frame or tape clear plastic film to the inside of your window frames during the cold winter months. Make sure the plastic is sealed tightly to the frame to help reduce infiltration.
  • Install tight-fitting, insulating drapes or shades on windows that feel drafty after weatherizing.
    Find out about other window treatments and coverings that can improve energy efficiency.


  • When you are home and awake, set your thermostat as low as is comfortable.
  • When you are asleep or out of the house, turn your thermostat back 10° to 15° for eight hours and save around 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills. A programmable thermostat can make it easy to set back your temperature.
    Find out how to operate your thermostat for maximum energy savings. Also see ENERGY STAR’s June 5, 2008, podcastfor video instructions on operating your programmable thermostat.



  • Schedule service for your heating system.
    Find out what maintenance is required to keep your heating system operating efficiently.
  • Furnaces: Replace your furnace filter once a month or as needed.
    Find out more about maintaining your furnace or boiler.
  • Wood- and Pellet-Burning Heaters: Clean the flue vent regularly and clean the inside of the appliance with a wire brush periodically to ensure that your home is heated efficiently.
    Find other maintenance recommendations for wood- and pellet-burning appliances.


Photo of a fire in a brick fireplace. Copyright iStockphoto.com/Oliver Malms.

  • Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning. Keeping the damper open is like keeping a window wide open during the winter; it allows warm air to go right up the chimney.
  • When you use the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox (if provided) or open the nearest window slightly–approximately 1 inch–and close doors leading into the room. Lower the thermostat setting to between 50° and 55°F.
  • If you never use your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue.
  • If you do use the fireplace, install tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that blows warmed air back into the room.
  • Check the seal on the fireplace flue damper and make it as snug as possible.
  • Purchase grates made of C-shaped metal tubes to draw cool room air into the fireplace and circulate warm air back into the room.
  • Add caulking around the fireplace hearth.
    Find out more techniques to improve your fireplace or wood-burning appliance’s efficiency.
    Learn tips for safe and efficient fireplace installation and wood burning.


Water heating accounts for about 18% of the energy consumed in your home.

  • Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120°F). You’ll not only save energy, you’ll avoid scalding your hands.
    Find other strategies for energy-efficient water heating.


Source: energy.gov