Most Common At-Home Accidents

Most Common At-Home Accidents

We generally think of household accidents as minor. In 2019 however, over 131,000 people died due what are called “preventable accidents” in the home. This is three times as many people who on average, die in auto accidents each year. It seems some of us are more prone to household accidents than others, but what are the most common accidents that occur at home?

  1. Drowning 

The most common causes of drowning include lack of swimming skills, , lack of barriers, lack of supervision and alcohol use. If you have a pool, make sure access is limited and children are never left unsupervised when enjoying it.

  1. Burns

Burns can occur from a variety of causes. They can occur from open flames, hot liquids, steam, a cooktop or oven. Burns are measured in terms of severity, with fourth degree being the most severe, followed by third, second and first degree burns. Even mild burns can cause a great deal of pain and infection is always a risk with severe burns.

  1. Poisoning

Poisoning is particularly problematic when small children or the elderly are in a home. Poisonings can come from ingesting household products, cleaning fluids or the wrong medicine.  Estimates place poisoning deaths at over 60,000 annually.

  1. Cuts

While cuts are the second most commonly occurring household accident injury, they are seldom fatal. Of course, most cuts occur in the kitchen, but they can also occur in the garage or when performing yard work.

  1. Falls

Falls are the most common cause of injuries around the house, specifically for young children and older Americans. One in four Americans over the age of 65 will be injured in a fall in any year and one in five will sustain an injury like a broken bone or head injury. Homes can be made safer for older persons through walk-in showers, taller toilets, handrails and other steps to create easy access living.

Homeowners may not be fully aware that they can be held responsible should a friend, relative, worker or delivery person suffer an injury in their home or on their property, especially if the injury could have been preventable.

This is just one of the reasons homeowners’ insurance is so valuable. Homeowners’ insurance can cover the legal and judgement or settlement costs associated with an injury accident that occurs on your property. Contact one of our independent insurance agents to learn more and to obtain a free quote. We look forward to assisting you.

Increasing the Odds of Getting Your Rent Deposit Back

Increasing the Odds of Getting Your Rent Deposit Back

We’ve all either heard stories about or been a part of a situation where a landlord has kept all or part of a rent deposit for one reason or another. What can you do to maximize the odds you will not be in a similar situation? Here are some steps you can take to make sure you get back what you should reasonably deserve.

Understand the Terminology

Landlords may use a variety of terms when leasing space. They may call a fee an application fee, deposit, security deposit, cleaning fee, or first or last month’s rent. Here’s a quick definition of each:

  • Application Fee. This is what a potential landlord charges you just to consider you as a tenant. It usually covers the costs of a background or credit check and the time it takes to confirm employment, rental record and/or personal references. This is not refundable.
  • Deposit or Security Deposit. A fee a landlord charges to ensure the property will be reasonably taken care of, subject to reasonable wear and tear. If the property is damaged, the landlord can deduct the costs of repairs from this deposit.
  • Cleaning Deposit. This is intended to cover the costs of returning the property to the condition it was in when initially leased.
  • First and/or Last Month’s Rent. This can only be used for rent and not to cover the costs of damage unless stated so in the lease.

Document the Condition of the Property Upon Move-In

Note any items that are in disrepair or non-working through notes and images. Send a copy to the landlord.

Ask Your Landlord

At the outset and upon notification that you will be moving out, simply tell your landlord it is your intention to get all of your deposit back at the end of the lease, and for any final instructions on what you need to do that.

Document the Condition of The Property at Move Out

Take an additional set of images once you have moved your belongings out and have cleaned it. Include interior photos of cupboards and closets. Include these images in a dated, written request for the full return of your deposit upon move-out.

Although you may still have issues getting your full deposit returned to you, you will certainly improve your odds of doing so by taking the above steps. If the landlord still holds back your entire deposit you can file a claim in small claims court using your images and notes as evidence.

Protect your investment when renting by securing affordable renter’s insurance. Renters insurance can cover your furniture, personal property and even cover you from liability claims. Some personal electronics may be excluded, ask your independent agent for details. Contact us to get a no obligation price quote on renters insurance and get your coverage today!

Pool Safety Tips

Pool Safety Tips

Whether you have a built-in or above ground pool, you’ll want to take the steps necessary to keep it safe while maximizing your enjoyment. It’s not difficult, but it does take diligence. Here are just a few pool safety tips.

Control Access

Whatever it takes, you must have control over access to your pool. It could be a screen, lock, removing stair access to an above ground pool, fencing or a variety of other barriers, a homeowner should keep the pool area secure.

Minimize Trip and Slip Hazards

Keep the deck area closest to your pool free from clutter and monitor the space for areas that get slippery when wet. Look for uneven or broken concrete and tiles and repair immediately.

Have Proper Lighting

If your pool is used in the evening or at night, proper lighting is essential. Lighting should illuminate the area around and in the pool.

Teach Children…

Make sure children know not to play near pool drains, to not run around the pool and to avoid jumping or diving in the pool.

Parents Should…

Parents should always closely monitor use of the pool by children, keep a cellphone handy and make sure pool toys are age appropriate. It may prove to be very beneficial for parents to learn CPR. Parents should also take the time to make sure children understand pool safety rules and what is and what isn’t appropriate safe behavior. It can also be a good idea to post a sign with simple pool safety rules. These can be found at pool supply stores, or you can produce a more personalized one yourself. This can help both children and parents understand rules regarding your pool.

In terms of homeowners insurance, a pool is known as an “attractive nuisance”, something that is tempting for children but also something that could harm them. Frequently, this causes homeowners with a pool to pay slightly more for their home insurance. The goal, however, is to provide a safe environment when the pool is and is not in use.

If you have a pool or are considering one, contact your independent homeowners insurance agent. We work with multiple companies who provide coverage for homes with attractive nuisances like pools. Get your free quote today!

The Slowly, and Not So Slowly, Evolving Modern Home

The Slowly, and Not So Slowly, Evolving Modern Home

If you haven’t viewed any newly constructed homes lately, you may not be aware there are changes occurring. Modern homes are a reflection of the current generation and their families, what is important to them, and how they want to live their lives. In many cases, sprawling suburban homes are being replaced by smaller, more efficient space with an emphasis on safety, security, convenience and low maintenance. Here’s a look at how modern single-family homes are changing.

Associations Are Becoming More Common

While HOA’s have frequently been a target for some homeowners, younger homeowners seem to have less of an issue with them. They may view them as a way to prevent uncomfortable neighbor to neighbor confrontations and enjoy the services they provide. Even if a neighborhood doesn’t have abundant amenities like a park, pool or playground, young families still appreciate features like included lawn care and landscaping.

Security

Home security is a growing factor in a selection of a modern home, including secure entrance doors, double-pane windows and security and alarm systems. Families are opting for in-home and exterior cameras and security lighting. For many, limited or gated access is a plus.

Smart Features

Younger homeowners have few concerns about smart devices and apps to make life more convenient. These conveniences include smart thermostats, smart major appliances, smart lighting and security systems.

Less Formal, More Versatile Space

Modern homes are more likely to include offices, recreational space and great rooms as opposed to formal spaces like dining rooms. Kitchens frequently have more features and amenities but may generally be smaller than in the past. Living spaces on a single level are popular, limiting use of steps and stairs.

Smaller Driveways and Yards

Younger homeowners simply have little interest in exterior maintenance. Homes are being constructed with shorter driveways, smaller front yards and low maintenance landscaping.

Spa-Like Bathrooms

Younger buyers are investing in quality personal space including upgraded bathrooms, large walk-in showers, natural stone flooring and tile and more. This is particularly true in master-suites.

Because they are new and constructed in compliance with the latest building codes, newly constructed homes are often less expensive to insure. If they have built-in security features, they may qualify for additional discounts. If you are considering the purchase of a new home, we would appreciate the opportunity to provide a homeowners’ insurance quote. We search our network of insurance companies to find a price you can feel comfortable with. Make sure your insurance is as effective and efficient as your new home. Contact us for a no obligation quote today.

Home Appliances That Changed Our Lives

Home Appliances That Changed Our Lives

We take so much for granted in our lives, we often ignore some of the products that have significantly improved the quality of it. Household appliances, for example, have made cooking quicker, easier, and safer. Appliances have changed the way we clean our homes and our clothing. Appliances help us in food preparation and storage.

To fully appreciate how appliances make life easier for us today, lets take a quick look back in time.

Food Storage

Before refrigerators and freezers, households had to rely on root cellars and storing foods in canning jars. Keeping fresh foods cold was accomplished with ice boxes, which, in essence, were giant coolers where blocks of ice were kept to keep items cold. “Ice Men”, either driving a horse pulled cart or early truck, would drive neighborhoods, offering homeowners an opportunity to buy fresh blocks of ice to refresh their ice boxes. The term was used so long, many families continued to call these appliances ice boxes long after refrigerators took their place.

Cooking

Prior to modern electric or gas stoves, ovens, and microwaves, families used a combination of fireplaces and iron wood-fueled stoves to create the heat needed to make soups, foods and even coffee. Imagine the effort it took to find, cut and store wood and then fire up the oven or fireplace just to cook a meal. Back in the day, cooking was not just difficult, open flames indoors along with hot metal pots, pans and kettles and liquids made it frequently dangerous. Today, microwaves, slow cookers, air fryers, and instant-style cooking pots make cooking a comparative breeze.

Food Preparation

It is hard to find a home today that doesn’t have some combination of electric appliances to just help us in preparing foods. These include blenders, mixers, food processors. It may not have been uncommon for grandma to use an assortment of simple kitchen utensils like potato mashers, wooden spoons and knives to prepare foods. If they had a mixer, it may have been hand operated.

Cleaning

Straw brooms have been replaced by vacuums, single use cleaning pads and even robotic floor sweepers. Rather than hand-washing and wringing clothes out with a wringer-washer, and hanging them out to dry on a clothesline, we simply pile clothes in a machine, add some soap, turn on a button and then throw them in a dryer. For some families, laundry took all day every Saturday.
What is even more amazing to consider is that many of these old ways of doing things were in use less than a hundred years ago. We may not be flying around in jet-packs, but grandma would sure be surprised with how we get housework done today.

Are you keeping your homeowners insurance modern and up to date? When was the last time you had a review or even looked at your policy? Keep your policy current with a home insurance policy review. Contact one of our independent insurance agents today.

Four Paths to Selling a Home

Four Paths to Selling a Home

One of the first things to decide when choosing to sell your home is what path you will take in the sales process. Here is a look at four major ways you can go about selling your home and some positive, and negative, aspects of each.

Hire a Real Estate Agent

The “traditional” way to sell a home is through a real estate broker or agent. Keep in mind, a Realtor is someone who is a member of the National Association of Realtors and has agreed to certain standards of the Association. Every Realtor is a real estate agents but not every real estate agent is a Realtor. The good news is working with a professional real estate agent provides expertise through your sale, beginning to end. They are responsible for marketing your home, fielding offers, providing tours of your home and working with you through closing. The downside is your commissions for an agent can be significant (5-7% of the sale price) and the process can take months.

Work Through a Discount Brokerage Company

Today, there are discount real estate sales services that provide some professional tools and advice but only serve to assist you in the sale. The good news is that you will pay a smaller percentage of the sale price in commission (2-3%) but will not have the benefits of a full-time brokerage. It places more of the burden on the seller and can take a longer period of time.

FSOB

When your home is for sale by owner, you take on the full responsibilities for the sale of your home. You are in control of everything including marketing the home, setting the sales price, working with prospective buyers and fielding offers. You will also have to work your way through the sometimes complex closing process. The good news is you pay no commissions. It could, however, cost you in time, aggravation and ultimately result in a lower sales price.

Sell It to a “Cash For Your Home” Service

Legitimate cash for houses services can bring about a quick cash sale, but there are significant downsides, the largest of which is a low sales price. These services will make low-ball offer on your property, in the hope of turning them over or flipping them quickly to make profits themselves. Some will use them as rental properties. If you need a quick sale due to a divorce, tax or other legal issues, a cash sale may be an option. They also buy homes in any condition. Otherwise, you will usually be able to sell your home for more choosing other paths.

Selling a home is a significant legal and financial transaction. You may want to consider professional assistance, at least seeking the advice of a real estate attorney. You can also benefit from the assistance of a professional when it comes to your homeowners’ insurance. Our independent insurance agents will seek out sufficient insurance coverage from multiple companies. You make the final choice. Contact us today.

Adding Appeal and Value to Your Home Through Landscaping & Lawn Care

Adding Appeal and Value to Your Home Through Landscaping & Lawn Care

When one thinks about home improvements, kitchen and bath remodels are often the first things to come to mind. The problem? Kitchen and bath remodels can be EXPENSIVE! You can easily pour $10,000, $20,000, $30,000 or more into kitchen and bath remodels. But what if you want to upgrade your living space without busting the budget?

How about upgrading the exterior of your home? Here are some of the ways landscaping and lawn care can add both appeal and value to your home.

Upgrades Provide Big Value

You may be surprised to how big a difference several hundred dollars in trees, bushes and flowers can make in your yard. Add some pavers, edging and mulch, and you can make a significant difference while staying on budget.

You Can DIY

Perhaps, unlike a major kitchen or bath upgrade, you may be able to do much of the outside work yourself. Buy some landscaping magazines, get some advice from your local greenhouse and spend some time on the internet getting ideas and expanding your knowledge. You may impress yourself with what you can accomplish on your own.

You Likely Have the Tools

You won’t need any specialized or expensive tools. You probably already have the major tools needed to perform yard and landscaping work. Outdoor yard work and landscaping will also provide access to some fresh air and exercise.

Landscaping can Expand Your Living Space

Backyard landscaping, in particular, can make that space more enjoyable and livable. Some bushes and flowers combined with a small deck, a patio set or fire pit is almost like adding a room! Inexpensive lighting products allows you to use that space into the evening.

Even a Good Trimming Will Help!

If you don’t want to spend much money, commit to a bush trimming, grass edging, fertilization, and mulching project. This alone can make a remarkable difference on its own.

Preserving, improving, and protecting your property is part of being a homeowner. This includes making sure you have sufficient home insurance. If you haven’t even thought about your home insurance for years, now’s the time for a review and price quote. There’s no obligation, and we may just be able to save you money. Contact one of our independent insurance agents today!

Five Ways to Save Home Energy You Probably Never Thought Of

Five Ways to Save Home Energy You Probably Never Thought Of

Want to help save the planet? Perhaps you are just trying to be frugal. Maybe the thought of paying increasingly more money to utility companies just burns your toast. Check out these five ways to save energy you may never have considered.

  1. Shades, Curtains, and Blinds

Most view window coverings as a way to protect privacy or to add to the aesthetics of a room. But shades, curtains, and blinds can be a terrific way to manage sunlight and heat or cool your home more naturally through every season of the year. When the sun is shining in cooler temperatures, let that sunshine in by opening up those blinds and curtains. They not only will brighten your rooms but add natural solar heating. When it is hot outside, minimizing that sunshine into your house can make a surprising difference in the comfort of your home, and your costs for air conditioning.

  1. Dimmers

It doesn’t have to be all or nothing when it comes to the lighting in your home. Dimmer switches on lighting offer an exceptional opportunity for you to better control the light in each room while saving power. It also allows you better control of the “mood”. Similarly, energy efficient night lights may save you from having to turn on the lights at all when entering an area for a brief time.

  1. Ditch that Old Refrigerator

It may seem practical to just keep that old refrigerator in the basement or garage for additional cold storage space, but it may end up costing you. A refrigerator running in a hot garage during the summer can be an energy beast. It could be costing you more in a year than it is worth. It may be a better option to buy a small, energy efficient apartment-sized min-fridge to keep in your home if you feel the need for that extra space.

  1. Utilize Airflow

Before 1902, air conditioning for the home did not exist. Yet even in the hottest areas of the world people worked, played and lived their lives without melting. It was frequently done through prudent ventilation and understanding the simple fact that heat rises. Using screens and opening and closing windows according to the wind direction can provide abundant fresh air and deeply cut into that AC bill.

  1. Plan Household Chores Just a Bit Better

Making sure you are washing full loads of laundry and baking and freezing multiple dinners in advance can save on that electric bill. In addition, a full freezer uses less energy than an empty one, so making meals in advance can help. While you are at it, turn down that water heater just a notch.

If you are trying to become a little more efficient with your family’s budget, saving energy is a great start. You may also be able to save on your homeowners’ insurance with a call to our independent insurance agents. What if you were paying 10% 20% or more than you had to? Wouldn’t you want to know? We can help. Connect with us today.

Some of the Most Expensive Homes Sold in the US

Some of the Most Expensive Homes Sold in the US

Every once in a while we’ll catch a glimpse of the lifestyles of the very rich and very famous. It is frequently because they either bought or sold a lavish property in the recent past. Even these properties, however, can pale in comparison to some of the most expensive properties sold in the United States in the past decade. Here is a look a just a few.

An 11,000 Sq. Ft. Penthouse in Manhattan

In what is known as Billionaires Row in Manhattan, One57 is a residential skyscraper that had a 89th and 90th floor Penthouse sell for $100 million and change. While it offers some stunning views and wide open living spaces, the expansive 11,000 square foot home has just six bedrooms.

A Carbon Beach Home in Malibu, CA

Malibu is home for many of today’s music, movie and television stars. Multi-million dollar homes are common, but a home on Carbon Beach, known locally as Billionaire’s Beach sold in 2018 for $110 million, making it one of the most expensive homes sold in the US in recent year.

An Oceanfront Home in Palm Beach, Florida Home

Not far from Mar-a-Lago along the ocean in Palm Beach, Florida, this 13 bedroom estate has its own private beach and dock along with lush landscaping and gardens. After being initially listed the previous year for $135 million, it sold in 2018 for $100,250,000.

An 11 Bedroom Estate in Palm Beach, Florida

Setting the record for the most expensive home ever sold in Florida was another Palm Beach property with an astounding 11 bedrooms and a head-shaking 22 bathrooms. It also featured a candy and ice cream parlor, bowling alley and 70,000 square feet of living space.

A 13,000 Sq. Ft. Mansion in Beverly Hills, California

This large estate has two guest houses on the property, a tennis court, swimming pool and a nine hole golf course. It was purchased in 2020 by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. It reportedly was purchased for the bargain price of $165 million.

People generally purchase as much house as they can afford. This makes it a significant investment whether you are buying a $150,000 home or a $150 million home. Make sure you have sufficient coverage to protect that investment. Connect with one of our independent home insurance agents to get a no obligation review and quote on your home insurance coverage. Contact us today to get started.

Tips for Choosing an Apartment

Tips for Choosing an Apartment

There certainly are a lot of benefits to apartment living. You are not tied to a single property for years, and you don’t have to save for a large down payment. Maintenance is low and major appliances are usually included when you rent. Apartment living can also provide access to amenities you may otherwise not be able to afford like a fitness center, pool or business center. If you are considering moving into your first apartment or another apartment, here are some tips to keep in mind.

  • Consider what type of landlord you prefer. There are a choice of landlord types that can impact your relationship with them and how you are treated. You may find an independent property owner who manages his own apartments, or you may rent from a property management company who manages a large number of properties or a single complex or a community. There are benefits and drawbacks to both.
  • Read online reviews. Sure, some previous residents may have axes to grind, but they are generally reliable.
  • Carefully consider whether you really want a second floor apartment. This is important especially if you are moving yourself or with the help of friends and family. If they don’t have an elevator, think about hiring a professional mover, at least for the big stuff.
  • If you have a roommate, ask for separate leases. You can avoid some messy and potentially costly situations if your landlord is willing to offer separate leases making each roommate responsible for their own portion of the cost.
  • Ask about parking. Access to parking can be a big deal depending on where you rent. How many spaces do you get, and what is the parking situation for visitors?
  • Take photos of your empty apartment prior to move in. This is particularly important if carpets aren’t particularly clean or if there is any damage you may be blamed for upon move-out.
  • Each roommate should acquire renters insurance. Some landlords may even require this. Renters insurance can help protect you from theft of personal property and liability claims should a visitor or delivery person injure themselves on the premises. Your landlord will likely have insurance, but it will only cover his property, not yours.

The good news is that renters’ insurance is inexpensive and easy to get. Just contact one of our independent insurance agents for a no obligation quote.

Be smart about your next move. Think ahead and make sure you acquire renters’ insurance.