Long Insurance Services of Kernersville, NC


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All Posts in Category: Home Insurance

Winterize

How to Winterize Your Home to Save Energy Costs

There’s no denying it: Winter is on its way.

Winterizing your home can help lower your energy bills, prevent bigger more costly repairs later on and reduce the risk of accidents like a home heating fire. (Side note: That’s why having the right homeowners insurance can give you peace of mind, too.)

Ready? Keep reading to walk through the big list of projects to tackle this fall, or download our free PDF printable on how to winterize your home.

FALL HOME MAINTENANCE CHECKLIST

Indoors:

  • Windows and doors: Prevent chilly drafts (and pricey heating bills) by checking and replacing any worn weather stripping and caulking any cracks. For loose-fitting doors, slide a draft guard or rolled-up towel underneath to fill the gap. Drapes, curtains, shades and blinds can also help reduce heat loss, according to energy.gov. For your chimney, floors, vents and more, these tips can keep cold air out of your house.
  • Fireplace: Check your fireplace and flue system to remove soot or ashes. Check for cracks that could be a fire hazard. If you’re not planning on using your fireplace at all, invest in a chimney balloon, which is a device designed to safely block the opening. (Just remember to take it out before you build a fire next season.) Most importantly, know what fixes are safe for you to tackle and what should be in the hands of a certified chimney sweep with training and proper equipment. Whether this is your first year or fifth year with your chimney, you might need an inspection. Read this guide on chimney inspections.
  • Furnace: Before you turn up the heat for the season, start by changing (or cleaning) your furnace filter. (Not sure how to change your furnace filter? Check out these tips.) It’s also a good idea to have an HVAC professional check your furnace once per year. And if you can’t remember the last time you had your heating ducts checked for leaks and efficiency, an HVAC professional can help with that, too.
  • Thermostat: For every degree you lower your home’s temperature during the winter, you can save as much as 1%on your energy bill (according to the U.S. Department of Energy). If you have an older thermostat, consider replacing it with a smart model to save on heating costs. Many new thermostats have algorithms to learn your comings and goings so you’re not paying to keep your home toasty warm when you’re not around. Read these additional energy-saving tips for when the cold weather hits.
  • Other home heating:  We know they’re cozy but be extra cautious when using space heaters. Space heaters cause an estimated 44% of house fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Regardless of how you heat your home, read these tips on using home heating sources safely.
  • Drafts and cracks: Cold air will take advantage of any opportunity to sneak into your home. Here’s a list of quick fixes for drafty places:
    • Outlets and switch plates: Use foam-insulating sheets to block cold air coming in from exterior walls.
    • Exposed ducts: Check your attic, basement, and crawl spaces and use sealant to plug up any leaks or cracks on exposed ducts.
    • Floors: Don’t underestimate the power of a thick, cozy rug. Your floors can account for as much as 10% of heat loss in a house.
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors: While you’re in the process of prepping your house for the long winter, check smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are in good working order. Also, with the increased risk of fire in winter, it’s important to have a family escape plan. You can create a family fire escape plan using these seven tips.

Outdoors:

  • Gutters: Clogged gutters, and subsequent water issues, can cause a lot of problems, like foundation problems, wall and ceiling damage, or even insect infestations. (Read more in our related post about what can happen if you don’t clean your gutters.) Start by clearing debris from gutters and downspouts to prevent them from leaking or sagging. Just make sure you do it safely – use a tall, sturdy ladder (check out our guide to picking the best ladder for your DIY job), and don’t forget protective eyewear, gloves and long sleeves to protect yourself against debris, bacteria and pests.
  • Roof: Snow can be a heavy burden for an old or damaged roof to handle. Before winter hits, inspect your roof for signs of potential problems, like missing, broken, blistered or curling shingles; cracked caulk or rust spots; or large patches of moss and lichen. Any damaged, loose or missing shingles should be repaired right away.
  • Trees and landscaping: It’s a good idea to trim any branches hanging near electric wires before they become a problem. Also, know how to spot the signs of a diseased or dying tree. Heavy snow and strong winter winds can knock down weak branches (or whole trees), so it’s best to do the prep work while the weather’s still mild.
  • Lawn equipment: Drain the oil and gas from your mower before storing it for the off-season. Gasoline can separate and spoil in only a few weeks, which could potentially damage your engine.
  • Snow removal supplies: Before the first snow, you’ll be glad you thought ahead and bought supplies early. Inspect the bolts, belts and parts on your snowblower; make sure your snow shovel is in good shape; stock up on ice melt or sand; and invest in a snow rake to help clear your roof. Snow accumulation on your roof that exceeds 20 pounds per square foot can be dangerous.
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Prepare Your House for Trick-or-Treaters

How To Prepare Your House for Trick-or-Treaters

Prepare Your House for Trick-or-TreatersIt’s nearly Halloween — the time for superhero capes, princess tiaras and children scampering from porch to porch.

No matter the trick-or-treaters’ game plan, they are ready for a candy bonanza – and that starts with a knock at your door. So don’t let slips, trips and falls dampen anyone’s night. Make sure you fit in a simple safety check before you fill the candy bowl.

If you plan on welcoming trick-or-treaters this year, we have nine tips to help you get ready.

HALLOWEEN SAFETY TIPS FOR HOMEOWNERS

  1. Clear the walkways. Toys, rakes, errant stones — clear them all out of the way before trick-or-treating starts. (Wet leaves are an especially slippery culprit!) A quick clean-up is one of the easiest ways to make your home safer from slip, trip and fall hazards
  2. Light it up. Turn on your exterior lights, including any flood lights, to help create a safe path for trick-or-treaters. Check these early so you have time to replace any burned-out bulbs.
  3. Corral your pets. With all the doorbells and visitors, Halloween can be stressful for your animals  – and even a well behaved pet can bite or scratch when they feel anxious. A constantly opening door makes it easy for furry friends to escape, too A better idea? Keep pets in a secured room or wing of the house.
  4. Lock all other doors. Mischief can happen when you’re doling out candy, so play it safe by locking all of your other doors. (That includes any garage and car doors, too!) The FBI reports that approximately 30% of all burglaries are committed without force courtesy of an unlocked door or window.
  5. Check your railing. If it feels rickety, take the time to secure it in place.
  6. Skip candles. Yes, they give your pumpkins that spooky glow. But a live flame isn’t worth the fire risk you consider all the draping costumes and accessories that will whiz by the flame. Pro tip: Opt for the flameless variety instead.
  7. Consider your candy choices. Many kids are allergic to candy ingredients like nuts. To help them enjoy the holiday, The Teal Pumpkin Project encourages leaving a teal pumpkin on your stoop to let trick-or-treaters know that you have non-food treats like stickers and toys on hand.
  8. Pick a good spot. If you have a lot of stairs or a long, winding path, consider handing out candy at the end of your driveway. Another option is to host a ‘trunk-or-treat’ event at another location.
  9. Comb your yard. With all luck, the kiddos will stay on sidewalks and driveways. But they may wander. Clear out sticks, objects or other tripping hazards from your yard.

Check out these blogs for more tips and tricks (the good kind) on Halloween safety:

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Umbrella Policy

What Is An Umbrella Policy and Why Do You Need One?

I’m a safe driver. I don’t do risky things. Someone I know would never sue me.

When it comes to truly terrible events, many people have the “it can’t happen to me” mentality.

However, by simply driving a car, owning a home or entertaining friends, the possibility exists that a tragic accident could occur… and potentially, a costly lawsuit.

Many people mistakenly believe that only millionaires need umbrella policies. In reality, a tragic accident has the potential to financially derail people of modest means as well as multimillionaires.

At ERIE, our job is to look ahead and prepare you for life’s unexpected twists and turns. Here’s how an umbrella policy can help give you peace of mind, knowing that your financial interests are protected.

HOW MUCH LIABILITY INSURANCE DO I NEED?

Your home or auto policy includes liability insurance up to a certain dollar amount. In insurance terms, that’s known as your limit. If you file a claim for a covered loss, your policy can pay up to the dollar amount stated in that limit.

And if the bills are higher than the limit… the rest of the cash typically comes from your wallet.

Here’s the thing about accidents: No one plans for them. (That’s why they’re called accidents!) And if it’s an especially bad accident – something that causes serious injury to someone else – the related costs could exceed an average person’s auto or home liability insurance limits.

The good news: An umbrella policy offers higher levels of coverage to protect you against expensive accidents, such as a tragic car accident or injury on your property.

WHAT CAN AN UMBRELLA POLICY COVER?

Simply put: An umbrella policy can pick up where your home and auto liability limits leave off.

In today’s litigious society, anyone can be sued. If you accidentally injure someone or damage their property, a court could very well hold you liable for the costs of medical bills, repair bills and/or legal fees.

Let’s put that into context:

  • How much auto liability coverage is enough? A lawsuit resulting from a tragic car accident could exceed your auto liability limits, leaving you on the hook for costly damages. Basic liability insurance limits are typically $100,000 or $300,000. While this is enough to cover many situations, accidents that are more severe or result in multiple people injured could add up to more than you’d expect.
  • Can my homeowners insurance kick in if someone gets hurt on my property? If someone were to get seriously injured – or worse – in your pool or riding your ATV (for example), a lawsuit could wipe out your finances. Medical costs alone can soar into the millions quickly, especially if a person needs extensive medical treatment or long-term physical therapy.

Talk to a local insurance professional, like your local ERIE agent, about what amount of coverage is right for you. An umbrella policy offers affordable, worldwide protection for you and covered family members.

IS AN UMBRELLA POLICY WORTH IT?

Unfortunately, bad things sometimes happen – and no one is immune.

If a court decides you owe more than the limits of your auto, boat or homeowners policy, your personal assets could be at risk. This includes cash, such as your savings or future wages. In some states, even your retirement savings and your home could be up for grabs.

An umbrella policy from ERIE offers higher levels of coverage and affordable, worldwide protection for you and covered family members. That means you can relax and enjoy more of the good times that life has to offer.

HOW TO GET UMBRELLA INSURANCE

Insurance certainly can’t stop bad things from happening. But it can help ensure that an accident doesn’t leave you, your family and possibly even a victim high and dry.

With an umbrella policy from ERIE, you get the peace of mind knowing your financial interests are safeguarded – even if something unexpected happens.

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Neighbors Tree Falls

What Happens If My Neighbor’s Tree Falls in My Yard?

Trees can be tricky, but for the most part homeowners are responsible for what falls into their own yard. So if a storm causes your neighbor’s tree to fall in your yard, your homeowners insurance could help cover the cost of removing the tree and remedying the damage it caused on your property, after your deductible.

The same is true in reverse: If a tree on your property falls in your neighbor’s yard, your neighbor should contact his or her insurance company to determine what type of coverage is available for damage or cleanup in their yard.

In most cases, neighbors are able to work things out without too much trouble. Depending on the extent of the damage, you may need to file a homeowners insurance claim. Your homeowners insurance may or may not cover the cost of tree cleanup, depending on your policy and the company you work with.

Good news: Homeowners insurance from ERIE typically pays for the cost (subject to sublimits) of removal of fallen trees if it’s due to a covered peril, such as a storm.

If there’s ever an issue between neighbors, you can rely on your claims adjuster to help straighten everything out.

THE CLAIMS PROCESS

If a tree falls on your house, the first thing to do, if it’s safe, is to try to prevent further damage to your home and property. Make sure to take some photos to document what happened. Then call your insurance agent, who can explain your options and help you understand if and how to file a claim. When you file a claim, a claims adjuster will come by to evaluate the damage and explain how your homeowners coverage comes into play. It’s recommended that you call your claims adjuster before you contract to have the tree removed.

Sometimes trees fall on cars. If it’s not safe or possible to remove the tree from the car yourself, you should call a professional to remove it. (Again, talk to your insurance agent and a claims adjuster first and take a few photos of the fallen tree on your car.) Depending on the damage and terms of your insurance coverage, the optional comprehensive coverage you may have under your auto policy could provide coverage for the loss.

PREVENTING TREE DAMAGE

Preventive measures matter when it comes to trees. Start by looking for signs of distress such as dead limbs, cracks in the trunk or major limbs, leaning to one side and branches that are close to a house or power line. Mushroom growth on the roots or bark can also signal trouble.

Homeowners should be concerned about the health of their trees. It’s possible for you to be held responsible for resulting damage to your neighbor’s house or property, if your tree falls due (in whole or part) to your own neglect. One of the best things to do is to regularly have large trees trimmed. (The Tree Care Industry Association lists accredited tree care professionals.)

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Umbrella Policy

What Is An Umbrella Policy?

I’m a safe driver. I don’t do risky things. Someone I know would never sue me.

When it comes to truly terrible events, many people have the “it can’t happen to me” mentality.

However, by simply driving a car, owning a home or entertaining friends, the possibility exists that a tragic accident could occur… and potentially, a costly lawsuit.

Many people mistakenly believe that only millionaires need umbrella policies. In reality, a tragic accident has the potential to financially derail people of modest means as well as multimillionaires.

At ERIE, our job is to look ahead and prepare you for life’s unexpected twists and turns. Here’s how an umbrella policy can help give you peace of mind, knowing that your financial interests are protected.

HOW MUCH LIABILITY INSURANCE DO I NEED?

Your home or auto policy includes liability insurance up to a certain dollar amount. In insurance terms, that’s known as your limit. If you file a claim for a covered loss, your policy can pay up to the dollar amount stated in that limit.

And if the bills are higher than the limit… the rest of the cash typically comes from your wallet.

Here’s the thing about accidents: No one plans for them. (That’s why they’re called accidents!) And if it’s an especially bad accident – something that causes serious injury to someone else – the related costs could exceed an average person’s auto or home liability insurance limits.

The good news: An umbrella policy offers higher levels of coverage to protect you against expensive accidents, such as a tragic car accident or injury on your property.

WHAT CAN AN UMBRELLA POLICY COVER?

Simply put: An umbrella policy can pick up where your home and auto liability limits leave off.

In today’s litigious society, anyone can be sued. If you accidentally injure someone or damage their property, a court could very well hold you liable for the costs of medical bills, repair bills and/or legal fees.

Let’s put that into context:

  • How much auto liability coverage is enough? A lawsuit resulting from a tragic car accident could exceed your auto liability limits, leaving you on the hook for costly damages. Basic liability insurance limits are typically $100,000 or $300,000. While this is enough to cover many situations, accidents that are more severe or result in multiple people injured could add up to more than you’d expect.
  • Can my homeowners insurance kick in if someone gets hurt on my property? If someone were to get seriously injured – or worse – in your pool or riding your ATV (for example), a lawsuit could wipe out your finances. Medical costs alone can soar into the millions quickly, especially if a person needs extensive medical treatment or long-term physical therapy.

Talk to a local insurance professional, like your local ERIE agent, about what amount of coverage is right for you. An umbrella policy offers affordable, worldwide protection for you and covered family members.

IS AN UMBRELLA POLICY WORTH IT?

Unfortunately, bad things sometimes happen – and no one is immune.

If a court decides you owe more than the limits of your auto, boat or homeowners policy, your personal assets could be at risk. This includes cash, such as your savings or future wages. In some states, even your retirement savings and your home could be up for grabs.

An umbrella policy from ERIE offers higher levels of coverage and affordable, worldwide protection for you and covered family members. That means you can relax and enjoy more of the good times that life has to offer.

HOW TO GET UMBRELLA INSURANCE

Insurance certainly can’t stop bad things from happening. But it can help ensure that an accident doesn’t leave you, your family and possibly even a victim high and dry.

Read More
Boost Your Home Resale Value

7 DYI Projects to Boost Your Home’s Resale Value

Whether you need more space for your growing family or are relocating for a new job, moving to a new home is something most of us will encounter eventually.

But while looking for the perfect house can be an exciting process, you’ll also be faced with the reality of selling your current one.

Putting your home on the market is a daunting task. Not only do you want it to sell quickly, but you also want to get the most out of your investment. After all, the more money you make at the sale, the more you’ll have available to put down on your next house.

See also: Home Buyers Reveal What Features They Would (And Wouldn’t) Choose Again

Wondering if there are any simple improvements you can make before the “for sale” sign goes in the lawn?

Here are seven easy do-it-yourself projects you can tackle to get the best bang for your buck – and impress a potential buyer:

  1. Clear your clutter. Believe it or not, experts say this simple project can add nearly $2,000 to your home’s value! A full house can distract buyers and make rooms look smaller. So go room by room to clean out anything that isn’t absolutely necessary. Use large trash bags or empty boxes to throw away what you don’t need and donate items in good condition.
  2. Update your kitchen. Kitchen remodels can be expensive. But you don’t have to completely gut your kitchen to wow a potential buyer. Simple updates like new appliances, countertops, backsplash or flooring can give your room a more modern look. Installing stainless steel appliances or quartz countertops can cost as little as $5,000 while boosting your home’s resale value between 3-7%.Want more inspiration at a lower price? See what made our list of easy and affordable kitchen upgrades.
  3. Landscape your yard. Good curb appeal has been shown to increase a home’s value between 5-20%. Cut back any overgrown plants and trim your trees and bushes. Pull those weeds and put down some fresh mulch. A little landscaping will go a long way to ensure the exterior views of your home aren’t blocked. And it will make your house look like a place buyers want to live.
  4. Paint your walls a neutral color. Studies have shown a fresh coat of paint can bump up your home’s value between 1-2%. Consider using a neutral color like light grey or a shade of white. This will help cover any stains, scuffs or chipped paint. In turn, you’ll liven up the space and help a potential buyer imagine how they can make your home their own.
  5. Improve your energy efficiency. Lower utility bills can help attract potential buyers. Projects like adding insulation, high-efficiency windows, energy-efficient appliances or LED light bulbs can all reduce the energy your home uses. Overall, making sure your house isn’t an energy hog can improve its worth between 1-3%.
  6. Make changes to help people of all ages. Consider adding features to your home that make it more accessible. That may include installing a walk-in shower or creating a master bedroom on the main floor. These “universal design” elements could increase your home’s value between 1-2%. Learn more about how universal design can help you age in place.
  7. Be smart with technology. Technology evolves fast. But products like a smart thermostat or keypad locks can be useful for years to come. Features like these can help boost your home’s value between 3-5%.

You’ve worked hard to get where you are today. The people and things in your life are a big deal. That’s why we think the insurance that protects them should be a big deal, too.

At ERIE, every homeowners insurance policy comes with a local agent who’s there to help you understand and feel confident about what you’re buying and how it works. And, yes – we offer 100% guaranteed replacement cost* for worry-free coverage that protects you without surprises.

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