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shutterstock_341191424For most families, the kitchen is the heart of the home, especially during the festive weeks to come. While the holidays are a wonderful time of year, they can also pose many dangers.

Thanksgiving is the leading day for cooking fires, with three times as many cooking fires taking place than on an average day. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in 2013, Thanksgiving Day was the leading date for home cooking fires with 1,550, 230% above the average number of fires per day.

Keeping fire and cooking safety top of mind during this joyous but hectic time is important, especially when there is a lot of activity and people at home. Below are some safety tips you can follow to ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday:

  • Remain in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling or broiling food. If you have to leave the kitchen, remember to turn off the stove.
    • According to the NFPA, unattended cooking was the leading contributing factor in cooking fires and fire deaths. Cooking equipment is the leading cause of home structure fires and associated civilian injuries and was the third leading cause of home fire deaths.
  • Stay in the home when cooking your turkey and check on it frequently.
  • Keep a lid nearby when you’re cooking to smother small grease fires. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
  • Make sure kids stay away from the stove, hot food and liquids. The steam or splash from vegetables or gravy could cause serious burns.
  • Keep the floor clear so you do not trip over kids, toys, pocketbooks or bags.
  • Be sure electric cords from an electric knife, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child.
  • Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Test them by pushing the test button.
  • If you experience an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.

Although a popular cooking method, turkey fryers are very dangerous if used incorrectly.

  • Only use a turkey fryer outdoors, away from trees and wooden structures.
  • Never place a frozen turkey into the fryer, because the mixture of ice and oil can cause flare-ups, or hot-oil explosions.
  • If using propane, leave at least two feet between the tank and the burner.
  • Turkeys weighing more than 12 pounds are unsafe to fry, which is why we recommend turkeys between 8 and 10 pounds if you consider frying a turkey.
  • Do not stuff or marinade the turkey if you are planning to fry it.
  • When finished, remove the pot from the burner and cover it for at least 24-hours before emptying the oil.

For more information on how to keep your home safe, call OceanPoint Insurance at 401-847-5200.

shutterstock_135278885-2June marked the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season, but with 10 of the costliest hurricanes on record arriving between August and October, now is the time to prepare for the worst by doing your best to protect your property.

Some of the most important actions home and business owners can take are trimming trees surrounding their properties and ensuring that any furniture and lightweight yard structures and decorations are secure.

The Weather Channel reports that the number of hurricanes and tropical storms begins to rise slowly through June and July but then shoots up in August, peaking in September, slowing in October, and then returning to normal levels through October and November. But there are no concrete assurances when one of these great natural disasters will arrive. Among the biggest hurricanes the United States has experienced, Katrina, Irene and Andrew all arrived in August, Ike was in September and Sandy hit in October.

To prepare for these events, owners can take some straightforward precautionary steps to help protect their investments.

Trim nearby trees of their low-hanging or weak branches to prevent them from being torn off in a storm and thrown into homes and businesses. Try to keep branches from growing longer than five feet. Remove branches that are hanging over the edifice that could fall onto a roof during a storm. Remove leaves, sticks or other debris that easily be blown around from yards, driveways or parking lots, including gravel or other rocks used in walkways or flowerbeds. Also, arrange with the local municipal authorities or a contractor to have tree limbs trimmed away from nearby power lines.

It may also be wise to consult an arborist or tree doctor about the roots of nearby trees, as the large amounts of rain that accompany hurricanes can loosen roots and possibly cause trees to fall into homes or businesses.

Items kept outside a structure should also be considered. Remove and store lawn furniture and place garbage cans and potted plants in a safe area out of reach of hurricane winds, such as in a garage or basement. Sections of fences or swinging fence doors should be secured.

As a leading provider of personal and commercial insurance coverage in Rhode Island, OceanPoint wants our clients to understand the risks of hurricanes and take the right precautions so that unexpected claims do not become necessary following heavy storms.

OceanPoint Insurance Agency is committed to providing clients with the best possible solutions to obtain protection and peace of mind. To learn more about how to protect your property during hurricane season, call us at 847.5200.

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.

Rhode Island Renters Insurance

Rhode Island Renters InsuranceWatching the local news this winter, we all witnessed the many devastating fires that destroyed countless homes and businesses. While homeowners and business owners are provided assistance with rebuilding their lives through their insurance policies, many renters found out the hard way that their personal belongings are not protected.

If you are currently renting an apartment or condominium and have not secured adequate renters insurance, your property and belongings are not shielded from theft, damage or total loss.

Many renters are unaware that their landlords’ insurance policy strictly covers the property that is owned by the landlord. Though their policy may cover structural damage to your living space, Rhode Island renters insurance fully protects you and your belongings in the case of an accident or natural disaster. Moreover, renters insurance also provides financial assistance to cover any added living expenses you may incur should your apartment become uninhabitable for any reason.

In addition to replacing your stolen or damaged items, renters insurance will also provide liability protection against any injury or loss sustained by guests of your residence, and could pay for necessary repairs if you were to damage another renter’s apartment.

Renters insurance is a smart, cost-effective way to ensure that your home and valuables are protected.

Contact OceanPoint Insurance  and let our insurance agents tailor a Rhode Island renters insurance package specifically for you.

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Rhode Island Flood Insurance

It might seem impossible now, but in the coming months the snow covering the ground will begin to melt. As spring’s warmer temperatures begin to melt the snow, they can also bring heavy spring rain. Unfortunately, until the ground thaws, melting snow and rain cannot be absorbed. The excess water runoff overwhelms drainage systems and can overflow lakes, streams and rivers. With nowhere to go, flood waters can inundate nearby homes and businesses.

In addition to the snowmelt, frozen rivers and streams will also begin to thaw. As the ice breaks and travels downstream, ice jams can block the flow of water, creating flooding upstream. The combination of snowmelt, thawing bodies of water and ice jams, with spring rain can result in serious, widespread flooding.

Rhode Island Flood Insurance

Here are some tips to avoid flooding caused by snowmelt:

  • Remove snow from around your foundation and pay particular attention to the areas around window wells. As snow melts, water could accumulate and seep in.Moving accumulated snow just a few feet away from the house can help avoid a wet basement.
  • Help keep catch basins clear. Where possible, safely clear snow, ice, and debris from the catch basins in your area.
  • Avoid having snow drain next to your house. Make sure your downspouts carry water several feet from your house to a well-drained area.

Water damage caused by flooding is not covered under most standard homeowners policy. According to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), between 2008 and 2012, the average flood claim was over $38,000. That’s more than most people can afford to pay out-of-pocket for flood damages—and without flood insurance, many must cover the costs to repair or rebuild on their own.

A flood does not have to be a catastrophic event to bring high out-of-pocket costs, and you don’t have to live in a high-risk flood area to suffer flood damage. Depending on the location of your home, you may qualify for a Preferred Rate Policy.

It takes 30-days for a flood insurance policy to take effect, so don’t wait until the snow starts melting. To learn more about Rhode Island Flood Insurance contact the OceanPoint Insurance Team.

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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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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.

Thanksgiving_4Thanksgiving is a time for great food, and spending quality time with family and friends. We all know the kitchen is the heart of the home, especially at Thanksgiving, so it is important you practice kitchen safety. With so much activity and people around, it can be easy to be distracted.

Thanksgiving is the leading day for home fires involving cooking equipment, with 3 times the average number.

To ensure the safety of your loved ones, as well protecting your home, we offer some simple precautionary cooking and kitchen fire safety tips to follow:

  • Keep a lid nearby when you’re cooking to smother small grease fires. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
  • Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking on the stovetop so you can keep an eye on the food.
  • Keep kids away from cooking areas by enforcing a “kid-free zone” of three feet around the stove.
  • Make sure kids stay away from hot food and liquids. The steam or splash from vegetables, gravy or coffee could cause serious burns.
  • Keep knives out of the reach of children.
  • Stay in the home when cooking your turkey and check on it frequently.
  • Make sure your smoke alarms are working.
  • Avoid wearing loose clothing or dangling sleeves while cooking.
  • If you must use a turkey fryer, make sure it is outdoors and in an open area away from all walls, fences or other structures that could catch on fire and away from moisture that can cause serious burns from steam or splattering hot oil.
  • Have activities that keep kids out of the kitchen during this busy time. Games, puzzles or books can keep them busy.
  • Keep anything that can catch on fire—pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels or curtains—away from your stove top and oven or any other appliance in the kitchen that generates heat.

For more information on home to keep your home safe, call OceanPoint Insurance at 401-847-5200.

shutterstock_218240056Move-in day is over, and now you can finally relax. However, we understand that worrying about your child being safe while at college never really ends – so we’re here to help.

Though you may not be able to be with them everyday, it helps to know that you can still keep their belongings and personal property safe. Expensive items such as phones, laptops, TVs and iPods that often accompany most college students to school can be covered under your homeowners’ insurance. If any of these items were stolen or damaged, it would be very costly to replace them. However, you do have options available to insure your child’s security.

If your student goes away to school and is not taking a car with them, you may be thinking of taking them off of your auto insurance policy to save money on your monthly insurance bill. However, what if he comes back for Christmas break and wants the car to visit friends?

Fortunately, some auto insurers offer a discount on insurance for students away at college with no access to a car except over vacations, breaks and summer. If he or she meets certain criteria, you may be eligible for a Distant Student Discount. Requirements vary by insurance provider, but they typically must be at least 100 miles away from home, be attending school full time, and under the age of 23.

As a full time student, your child may also qualify for a Good Student Discount if they maintain a grade average of 3.0 or higher.

At OceanPoint Insurance, we suggest that you review your current homeowners and auto policies with your agent as soon as possible to adjust your coverage if need be and provide yourself with a much-needed peace of mind.

RI valuable property insurance

Valuable Property Insurance

Plan on giving the gift of luxury this holiday season? Are you expecting an expensive piece of jewelry? Well, it is important that you know how to properly protect all of your jewelry and other valuable items during the gift-giving times by the use of valuable property insurance.

Most standard homeowners policies protect your home and the items you own inside, but only up to a certain dollar amount. To insure your valuable items, you can purchase an extension or a “rider” that can be added on to your renters or homeowners policy to protect against theft or loss.

It is crucial you have your gift appraised because it’s important to know exactly how much your jewelry is worth to make certain you’re adequately insured. The value of a piece of jewelry depends on many factors, such as condition, age, color and clarity of the stones and the style.

You should also remember to keep any receipts that show the date you bought the piece, how much you paid for it, and where you purchased it. This should also be kept with a photograph of your item.

For more information on  valuable property insurance coverage in Rhode Island, please contact OceanPoint insurance today! 

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