Consider using a ‘smart’ leak detector and a water shut-off valve that uses the home’s WiFi network to prevent or mitigate water damage.
OceanPoint Insurance, an RI insurance agency, offers homeowners insurance from the top insurance carriers; and a range of financial services.
eBikes, just like hover-boards and motorized scooters, may be excluded from coverage (both liability and property) under a conventional homeowners insurance policy.
The arrival of spring puts yard work and spring cleaning at the top of your to-do list, but what often gets overlooked is the roof, which has been subject to a lot of weather abuse through the winter months and may require tender loving care.
1) Clean your gutters
From late Fall, through the winter months, debris such as pine needles, twigs, or dirt can clog up your gutters, rendering them useless. When the next spring rainstorm arrives, water will overflow, potentially damaging your house.
Consider adding a gutter guard to prevent the gutters from becoming clogged.
2) Inspect your shingles
Damaged shingles can leak and can cause severe damage to your home’s interior.
We recommend that you use a licensed professional to climb up onto your roof to inspect it, but if you decide to inspect the roof yourself, please use all safety precautions:
- Work on dry roofs only
- Wear shoes with soft rubber shoes for the best traction
- Use a ladder that conforms to local code and is approved by the American Ladder Institute
- The base of the ladder should extend out 1 foot for every 4 feet of elevation
- Use roof brackets and a safety harness
- Leave steep and high roofs to the professionals
Check the roof for any shingles that are cracked or have curled up edges, identify shingles with loose nails. If you see areas of the roof with damaged shingles, it may be time for a roofing repair.
3) Check for mold or algae
Your roof will be wet for long periods during the winter months and may be subject to mold or algae growth. There are do-it-yourself cleaning kits, but we recommend that you use a professional roof cleaning service because it is inherently dangerous working on a wet roof.
4) Schedule a professional inspection
If you do decide to undertake roof inspection and you do find problems with your roof, we recommend that you schedule a professional inspection.
A licensed and experienced roofer will assess the extent of your roof damage and will determine whether it needs minor or more significant repair. The roof protects your attic and every room in the home: it is worth the investment to keep your home and its contents dry.
5) Check that your roof is covered by your insurance policy
Most homeowners’ insurance policies cover roof replacement if the damage is the result of an act of nature or a sudden accidental event; however, some insurance policies will not replace or repair a roof that’s gradually deteriorating due to wear-and-tear or neglect.
Roofs that are over 20 years old may have limited coverage.
It is good practice to keep records of repairs, before-and-after photos, and reports from roofing inspections. Inform your insurance company promptly when damage occurs.
If you have any questions about your homeowners’ insurance, do not hesitate to contact us.
We hope that these maintenance tips prepare your home for the new season.
Regular roof inspection for damage or moisture will help keep it in tip-top shape for years to come.
Fall is an excellent time to take on home maintenance projects to prepare for the arrival of the New England winter.
Check these seven items off your to-do list, and you can rest easy knowing that you have prepared your home and yard for the winter season.
1. Window Air Conditioners
Ideally, you should remove the window a/c units that have kept you cool during the summer and put them in storage for use next year. However, if your window a/c units are installed year-round, fit an insulated cover to the exterior of the a/c unit to prevent draughts, keeping cold air out in the cold winter months.
2. Care for trees
Falling trees and limbs can be hazardous to life, especially when covered with snow or freezing rain. Contact an arborist to inspect your trees and prune as needed.
3. Clean Gutters and Downspouts
Once all the leaves and pine needles have fallen, it is essential to clear all gutters and downspouts. If you are uncomfortable working up high, then hire a service to do it for you. Failure to do this can result in:
When leaves and pine needles remain in the gutter, water can back-up under
the shingles on the roof, rotting the roof deck and possibly leaking into the house.
b) Pests infestation
A full gutter has all the materials that squirrels and birds need to nest.
c) Fascia board damage
When the gutters and downspouts are full, water can overflow rotting the fascia boards.
d) Foundation damage
Besides fascia damage, overflowing water can cause cracks in the foundation, which can be very expensive to repair.
4. Shut Off Exterior Faucets and Store Hoses
In New England, where the temperatures consistently fall below the freezing point, it is essential that all exterior faucets (including outside showers) are winterized and that all hoses are disconnected and stored.
It is a good idea to replace all conventional outside faucets with frost-free faucets.
5. Check Safety Devices.
b) Check the expiration date on all fire extinguishers replacing as necessary.
6. Chimney Cleaning and Heating System Maintenance.
Poorly maintained chimneys and furnaces could be hazardous to the occupants of a home. Clean chimneys and vents before the arrival of winter, and service furnaces/boilers before turning the heat on.
7. Stock up on winter supplies.
b) Stock up on ice-melt (pet safe and plant safe preferably)
c) Put ice scrapers in the car and update your winter emergency kit
d) Check your home’s winter emergency kit and stock up as needed
e) If you use a snow blower, have it serviced & complete a test-run
f) Stock up on fuel for your generators and snow blowers
Follow this 7-point checklist to keep your home and family safe.
The kitchen is considered by many as the heart of the home, the place where family and friends gather to enjoy each other’s company and delicious food.
At OceanPoint Insurance, we want all of your gatherings to be safe and joyful.
With an average of 455 fires daily, according to the National Association of Fire Prevention, cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire-related injuries.
Below are seven safety tips to keep you and your loved ones safe so you can enjoy what matters most…the food, friends, and family!
1. Be Attentive: 33%* of all kitchen fires happen when food is left unattended causing 49%* of all kitchen fire-related deaths. Whether you are roasting, grilling, simmering, or frying, always remain in the vicinity. Be sure to check on your food frequently and always turn off the oven or range if you are not in the home.
2. Be Alert: While wine is delicious when used in your favorite recipes, it is not a good idea to consume alcohol while cooking. Your judgment may become impaired, and you will be more likely to leave the food unattended, or you may forget to turn off the range or the oven. If you feel sleepy, it is best not to cook anything which involves heat. Wait until you are well rested to don your chef hat and start simmering.
3. Clear the Area: Have you ever carelessly tossed a dish towel on the counter? Dish towels and other items that are too close to the stove or cooking area pose a fire hazard. 10%* of all kitchen fires and 23%* of associated deaths are caused by flammable items being too close to the cooking area. Organizing the area surrounding your range before you begin cooking will minimize the risk of a cooking fire.
4. Know What to Do: In the event of a kitchen fire, there are a few things you need to know. It is advisable to get out of the house and call 911 immediately. Cooking fires cause 55%* of all kitchen related fire injuries where civilians attempt to fight the fire by themselves.
5. Service and Maintain Your Stove: Most cooking fires involve the use of the stove and to minimize the risk of fire it is essential that the oven is cleaned on a regular basis. Most stoves offer a self-cleaning setting, use this to keep the inside free of grease and other hazardous materials. After cooking, be sure to clean the range and the oven thoroughly. When necessary, have your stove serviced to be sure that all components are in working order.
6. Kid-Free Zone: Just in case your little ones get a little too curious, it is good practice to establish a kid-free zone around all preparation and cooking areas.
7. Download Our Cooking Safety Guide: click this link to download the guide, share with all family members and keep a copy in your kitchen.
Follow these simple safety tips so that you can enjoy each meal with your family and friends in safety. At OceanPoint Insurance, we wish you and your inner chef a safe and delicious cooking experience.
*Source: National Fire Prevention Association
It’s the Holiday Season – a magical time – Christmas trees are all aglow as families enjoy this festive time of year. However, at OceanPoint Insurance, we have the safety of you and your family in mind during this special season. Often, many people forget that holiday candles, lights, and trees can cause dangerous household fires.
Here are 5 tips to keep you and your loved ones safe this season:
1) Electrical Safety:
Electrical problems cause one out of every four Christmas tree fires. When you take your holiday lights out of storage, always inspect your lights for frayed wires or any other types of physical damage. When plugging in the lights check each outlet for any cracks or burns, if you do see damage on your outlets consult with a certified electrician.
It is advisable to replace your holiday lights every few years because the old lights may become damaged with use and storage.
When storing your tree lights, be sure they are not in a placed in an area where they may rust or corrode.
When you leave your home, always turn off the holiday lights, this will reduce the risk of a fire.
2) Tree Placement
The most important consideration when placing your tree should be fire safety. Keep the tree away from all heat sources: be sure that the tree is not near a wood stove, electrical heater, portable heat source, open flame, etc.
3) Decorations and Tree Care
Consider using non-flammable decorations to reduce the risk of fire.
Fill the tree stand with water and check it daily. Be sure to fill up as needed; this will prevent the tree from drying out. A dry tree is significantly more likely to catch on fire, see video below:
4) Candle Safety
There is nothing quite like the aroma of ‘Balsam Fir’ circulating the house during the holidays. However, candles do have an open flame, and seasonally scented candles are accountable for 1 in 4 house fires. Be sure to keep the candles in a place where the flame can not reach any flammable objects. Also, make sure there is nothing that can fall into or near a lit candle.
Come up with a way such as setting the alarm on your watch or smart device to remind yourself to blow the candles out at night or when you leave home.
5) Fire Alarms
Now is a great time to think about the functionality of your home’s fire alarms. Have they been tested recently to ensure that they are in working order?
This test is simple and typically involves pushing the ‘test’ button on your alarms. It is an easy task that can save lives.
Our OceanPoint Insurance team would like to wish you and your family a happy and safe holiday season. We are looking forward to welcoming in a new year!
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.
- Make 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.
- The 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.
New Englanders are no strangers to the dangers, expenses and inconveniences that hurricanes can bring to our shores. These massive storms grow rapidly as they travel over warm ocean waters and can wreak havoc more than 100 miles inland. Heavy winds, micro-bursts and occasionally tornadoes can tear off roofs and uproot trees; and excessive rain can cause significant flooding. Entire power grids can be down for days. These storms are no joke, and our OceanPoint Insurance team wants you and your family to stay safe!
Hurricane season peaks in September, which is just around the corner. Here’s what you and your family need to know to stay safe and secure during this hurricane season:
- Consider how you and your family can receive weather notifications this hurricane season. Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) are one way that state and local public safety officials can keep you informed. WEAs resemble text messages but will have a unique sound and vibration. There is no charge for these messages, and you do not have to subscribe to receive them. If you have a WEA-capable phone and your wireless carrier participates in the program, you will receive these alerts. (More than 100 wireless service providers, including all of the largest carriers, do.)
To learn more about WEAs, please visit the FCC’s website or view the short video below.
- Make a shelter plan with your family. These plans should include where to take shelter if you are at home or if you are at work during a hurricane. Consider making a plan for during the storm and also an extended “after the storm” plan. Make sure your home is secure and storm ready if you decide to hunker down during the hurricane and ensure that you have enough food and bottled water for an extended period. Many people in Rhode Island were without electricity for up to seven days during the most recent storms, and those in rural areas were also without a water supply throughout the duration. Also, familiarize yourself with the locations of public hurricane and storm shelters in your area. If the storm damages your home, either move to a storm shelter or make arrangements to stay with other family members or friends.
To learn more, download ‘How To Prepare For A Hurricane’
- Consider special circumstances that might affect your choice of shelter during and after a hurricane. Do you have pets? Does anyone in your household have medical needs that might require prescriptions or special equipment? Does anyone in your family have special dietary needs? Are your family’s important documents and papers in a safe and waterproof place that is easily accessible in case of emergency evacuation?
- Make a Family Emergency Plan and make sure every member of your household has a copy of it. This plan should include household information, emergency meeting place information, out-of-town contacts and other important contact numbers and information that your family might need in case of an emergency.
Download FEMA’s Family Emergency Plan guidelines.
- Practice your Emergency Plan with the members of your household. This is very important for two reasons. First, it can take out some of the anxiety of having to execute the plan during an actual emergency. Secondly, you may find kinks or things you may not have considered before implementing the Family Emergency Plan in a real hurricane situation that can be addressed and revamped to ensure a safe and effective Family Emergency Plan.
Hurricanes are just part of life when it comes to being a New Englander. Follow these tips to keep you and your family safe during this hurricane season! Also, take the time to make sure your home and belongings are adequately insured and pay particular attention to Flood Insurance. Our team of agents can walk you through to ensure that your insurance policy will cover you in the aftermath of a hurricane.
List of Hurricane Resources
- How to prepare for a hurricane (brochure)
- Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs)
To learn more about WEAs, please visit the FCC’s website or view the short video below.
For Rhode Island
- Hurricane Preparedness
- Hurricane Preparedness, Food Safety
- Hurricane Preparedness, Water Safety
- Rhode Island Power Outage Map
The summer season is upon us, and it is time to get outdoors! Backyard BBQ’s, kids running through the yard, gatherings with family and friends, are just some of the many reasons to get your yard looking pristine. Mowing the lawn is essential to achieve that maintained appearance. It also wards off ticks and other pesky summer bugs. Mowing the lawn can be a dangerous task if you are not careful. Approximately 75,000 people endure mowing related injuries, most of which could have been prevented.
Here are 3 tips to keep you safe when mowing the lawn!
1. Read the Owners Manual and Maintain Your Mower:
Reading the manual seems like the obvious thing to do, however, many will still begin mowing their lawn without learning about the machine first. Knowing your mower will not only keep you safe, but it will also allow you to recognize when maintenance is needed. A dull blade or frayed wires may pose a risk to you as you cut the lawn. Regular maintenance to your lawnmower will reduce the risk of injury significantly.
2. Prepare the Area:
The mower blade operates at a high rate of speed and can throw unseen objects that come in contact with the rotating blade quite far, this may cause injury to yourself or to those nearby. Take the time to walk the area and remove anything that the mower can toss about such as rocks, branches, debris etc.
3. Dress for Safety:
It may be a hot day, but dressing for the weather can also increase your risk of injury. Sandals and shorts do not provide the protection you will need from the mower blade and from anything that is thrown from under the mower. It is wise to dress in long pants and shirts as well as steel-toed boots. Although you may be hot in the sun, you will be well glad to know you are protected from unnecessary harm.
Follow these lawnmower safety tips and your lawn will be looking pristine, and you will be able to enjoy all the outdoor fun that summer weather provides!
Ah, spring! We New Englanders have made it through another winter. As the temperature rises, snowstorms turn into rainstorms. In this transitional time, however, the ground has not yet thawed, and as those rainstorms persist, all that water needs to go somewhere.
Due to the laws of gravity, water will go from high ground to low ground. The result: basements become flooded with inches, sometimes feet, of water.
A flooded basement can cost homeowners hundreds to thousands of dollars, even with homeowners’ insurance. Appliances, carpeting, stored valuables can all become ruined. Furthermore, if flood clean up is not conducted correctly, mold can present a health issue,
According to NOAA, the cost of flood damage in the US last year was over $3 billion!
So how do homeowners avoid flooded basements in this rainy season? The best solution is the sump pump which is a small water pump that is placed in the lowest part of a house, typically, the basement or crawlspace. When a basement starts to fill with water, the sump pump will remove unwanted water from the building. These little gems can cost between $1,000-$1500 to install which is a small price to pay in comparison to the damage caused by a flooded basement, or home.
While sump pumps are a great solution, they are not so great when the electricity supply stops because they will stop pumping water.
When a storm hits, the potential for power loss can be a significant issue for the home or business owner.
If your neighborhood is prone to losing power, you may want to make sure that your sump pump has a backup battery. This will buy you a few more hours of pumping time after the electricity goes out, which can make a significant difference between being flooded or not.
However, if you’re on a municipal water system, you may want to consider a water-powered backup pump. This may be a better option as a well pump won’t work if the power’s out. The price you’ll pay for water consumption during a power outage is a minimal compared with the cost of a flooded basement. Additionally, a water-powered pump never needs new batteries.
When New England gets hit with a storm, we usually get hit pretty hard, it is not unusual to lose power for several days which would exceed the life of a backup battery rendering the sump pump useless, and that is when the damage, and costs, start piling up.
Some homeowners take it to the next level and install a whole house generator which turns on automatically in the event of power failure. These generators are wired to the sump pump, and other needed appliances, to ensure that the home does not flood during a storm.
By taking a few precautionary steps, you can protect your home from flood damage and yourself from the headaches of dealing with flooding. Take our advice, plan for the worst and prepare your sump pump for an extended power outage!