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9 Home Maintenance Tips to keep your insurer happy…and possibly save money!

Did you know that a standard homeowners insurance policy may not cover problems arising from a poorly maintained home? A home maintenance program will safeguard your home against these risks. Here is a selection of tips from our OceanPoint team to keep your home well maintained and in compliance with a typical homeowners insurance policy

  • Check your roof regularly for missing or damaged shingles. A regular roof inspection can help avoid costly water damage from roof leaks.
  • home insurance sump pumpMake sure that the sump pump in your basement is working correctly, check regularly and consider installing a battery back up in case of prolonged power outage.
  • Regularly clean and maintain your home’s gutters and downspouts. Water seepage can cause damage to walls and cracks in the foundation.
  • Termites can cause significant structural damage to your home and are not covered by homeowners insurance. Have your home professionally inspected on a regular basis, and treated immediately at the first sign of any termites.
  • Old or poorly maintained pipes and plumbing can cause water damage to your home. Carefully check for any cracks are damage to your pipes regularly. It is essential that you familiarize yourself where the central water shut off is in your home. In case of a burst pipe or damaged hose, it is imperative that you shut the water off immediately.
  • If you have a deck on your home, make sure you regularly inspect its structure. Older decks can buckle and collapse if not properly maintained. Poorly maintained decks can be hazardous, especially if there are a lot of people on the structure.
  • Home maintenanceThe application of caulk is a great way to prevent water damage from leaky windows and doors and will also insulate your house. It is inexpensive and convenient. Caulking window and door frames can help keep your home watertight, warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.
  • Clean out your dryer’s lint trap and the exhaust duct regularly. When lint builds up in these areas, there is the potential for fire; this is an easily preventable catastrophe.
  • Inadequately maintained chimneys are one of the most common causes of structure fires. Have your chimney cleaned and inspected each year to prevent the possibility of a deadly and costly fire in your home.

Homeowners insurance is designed to protect you from disasters that impact your home but you are expected to properly maintain your home.  Neglectful home maintenance may lead to wear and tear that can potentially lead to bigger problems that may not be covered by your policy.

Your home is a significant investment. Continuously maintain and protect this investment with these easy and cost-effective tips.

Our team at OceanPoint is always available to provide cost savings advice as well as ways to reduce your risk for damage or loss.

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What You Should Know About Hurricane Deductibles

iStock_000010149937LargeIn nineteen states, including Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, insurance companies offer a special deductible for hurricane damage. A hurricane deductible applies to damage caused solely from a hurricane as categorized by the National Weather Service. Hurricane deductibles are only triggered when a named hurricane makes landfall in the state where the insured property is located. A deductible would not go into effect for a tropical storm, blizzard, or any other weather phenomenon other than a hurricane.

Hurricane deductibles are usually set between 1% and 5% of the dwelling limit – the amount for which a home is insured. As an example, if your home is insured for $300,000 and your policy has a 5% hurricane deductible, you would be responsible for the first $15,000 in hurricane damage. Hurricane deductibles are not permitted to exceed 5% of the dwelling limit.

While hurricane deductibles are not mandatory, many insurers make this a condition for coverage near the coast. As an agency that provides homeowners insurance to many coastal homes, OceanPoint also represents carriers who specialize in coastal coverage that do not require hurricane deductibles. Depending on the homeowner’s unique set of circumstances, we will recommend a coverage plan best suited for our client, which may or may not include a hurricane deductible.

For more information on hurricane deductibles or if you have any questions about your homeowners policy please call OceanPoint Insurance at 401.847.5200.

Safeguarding skilled tradesmen and property owners with specialized contractor’s insurance

shutterstock_183638237-2Seasonable spring weather has finally arrived and with that comes the desire to schedule those much-needed repairs and home improvements. Homeowners recognize and appreciate the importance of having a skilled, experienced contractor perform work on their home. Reputable contractors, in turn, understand that the best way to safeguard their livelihood is through a comprehensive contractor’s insurance policy through OceanPoint.

Whether applying a fresh coat of paint to a home’s exterior, or adding a new sunroom, successful contractors know that using the best materials ensures a positive job completion. Just as important is making sure that the job is insured against personal injury, mishap or financial loss. In addition to facing the risk of accident or injury with each job, contractors are also held to strict standards by their customers.

OceanPoint understands the unique needs of contractors and offers a variety of options to help secure their business. Contractor general liability insurance provides protection from a variety of potentially expensive circumstances, including liability claims and lawsuits. Additionally, the safety and security of those on the job site, as well as the structures being built, must also be considered within the policy.

Coverage options include:

  • General Liability Insurance is a fundamental component of contractors insurance. If you find yourself on the unfortunate side of a lawsuit or other financially pressing issue, general liability will provide the protection you need.
  • Workers’ Compensation is essential for covering costs such as medical expenses acquired by an injured person due to an accident on the job, or for lost wages for an employee who falls ill or injured.

OceanPoint Insurance has been providing contractors with a higher-level of insurance protection for generations. Our agents possess the knowledge and experience to design a customized insurance package for your specific needs and budget.

Call us today at (401) 847-5200 to speak to one of our trusted, local agents.

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Risks of Sea-level Rising and Coastal Homes

RI Coastal Flood Insurance

The Ocean State, with over 400 miles of coastline, is known for its beaches, bluffs, and scenic waterfronts. Rhode Island’s coast is a vital part of the state’s identity, attracting long- and short-term visitors, and offering opportunities for recreation, industry, and simple enjoyment.

Being within a stone’s throw of the beach is a dream for many, but the realities of coastal living can be harsh. There are many crucial factors to consider before buying a home on the coast, one being RI flood insurance.

The sea-level rising in Rhode Island has worsened over the years and poses a great risk to coastal homeowners. Since 1930, sea-level rise in Rhode Island has increased an average of 1 inch per decade. However, the rate of sea-level rise has quickened and the sea level along Rhode Island’s coast has risen 6 inches over the last 40 years. By 2100, the R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council is planning for 3 to 5 feet of

RI Coastal Flood Insurance

sea level rise.

If the property you are considering is not currently located in a flood zone, it very well may be in the future. Be sure to check the 0.2% risk area to see if the property may be in the flood zone in the future, which, with rising sea levels, may offer a more accurate look at the future floodplain.

While a coastal home presents flooding risks, there are many factors that have changed over the years to better protect coastal properties. Many homes along the coast were built before the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was created. Now, requirements designed to increase the flood-resistance of coastal structures have been strengthened within international, federal, and state building codes to meet the requirements of the NFIP.

There are improvements that can be made to a home to better protect it from natural disasters:

  • Consider shoreline protection structures such as seawalls, jetties, breakwaters, and bulkheads.
  • Choose materials that are resistant to damage from flooding, termites and other hazards.
  • Install appliances above a potential flood level. For example, install a front-loading washer on a platform, or over a built-in drawer.
  • Make sure you have a sealed roof deck
    • Consider sealing roof decking seams with six-inch-wide roofing tape as a secondary defense against water damage.
  • Invest in high wind rated roof mounted vents
  • Install gable wall vents that are protected against water intrusion
  • Make sure all door, window, and skylight openings are protected with impact-protection systems
  • Any attached structures should be connected by strapped beams or columns to prevent uplift

Contact our RI coastal flood insurance specialists before purchasing a coastal home.

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Frozen Pipes: Preventing and Treatment

shutterstock_212307349Why It’s a Problem:

Many homeowners know that frozen pipes are a problem, but many don’t understand why or how they occur, or what to do if such an event occurs.

When water freezes, it expands, which puts an immense amount of pressure on whatever is containing it. Therefore, if enough pressure is created, pipes can break and cause severe damage to your home. That is why we suggest carefully noting the location of your pipes, and insulate as needed to avoid water damage.

How to Prevent Frozen Pipes:

 Before the colder weather hits hardest this winter, follow these helpful tips to avoid potential damage:

  •  Consider relocating exposed pipes to provide increased protection from freezing
  • Remove, drain, and store hoses used outdoors. Keep outside valves open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing it to break.
  • When the weather is uncomfortably cold outside, let cold-water drip from the faucet that comes in by exposed pipes.
  • Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower temperatures in the evening, you can prevent a costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
  • If you plan to be away from home for an extended period of time, leave the heat on and set it to a temperature no lower than 55° F.

Found a Frozen pipe? Thaw It Out:

  • If you turn on a faucet and only a few drips come out, suspect a frozen pipe. Typically, frozen pipes are found along exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.
  • Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad, an electric hair dryer, or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, or other open flame device.
  • Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.

If you see that damage has been caused by a frozen pipe, call a professional immediately. Fortunately, most damage caused by burst pipes within the home is covered under your standard homeowners policy. However, we suggest contacting your OceanPoint Insurance agent today at 401-847-5200 to discuss the terms and be certain you are fully protected.

Preventing House Fires This Winter

shutterstock_77565136During the cold winter months in New England, there’s nothing better than cuddling up by the fire with your loved ones. Oftentimes, homeowners have to rely on additional heating sources to keep houses warm. Did you know that heating equipment is the second leading cause of U.S. home fires and home fire deaths?

According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), home fires are more prevalent in winter than in any other season. Below we have prepared a few simple fire safety tips and precautions that can help keep you and your family safe.

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, such as the furnace, wood stove, fireplace, or portable space heater.
  • Thousands of fires each year can be attributed to faulty electrical cords. Check your cords for frays and cracks, replacing any that aren’t fit for use.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Never use your oven as a source of heat.
  • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
  • Test smoke alarms monthly.
  • When plugging cords into wall outlets, be sure not to overload the circuit. As a general rule of thumb, stick with one plug per outlet.
  • Have a fire extinguisher in every room that has lit candles, space heaters or other potential fire hazards.
  • Have your chimney inspected for buildup, which could cause a dangerous chimney fire.
  • Make sure your portable heaters are in safe working condition before operating them.

At OceanPoint, we want to make certain your family is safe no matter the season. If you have any questions or would like additional information on how to protect your home and your family this winter, call OceanPoint Insurance at 847-5200.