Monday, May 21, 2012

Home Safety Tips While Away on Vacation

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

Returning home from a relaxing sun-soaked vacation is never fun, and it can be made worse if you return to find something gone horribly wrong in your home. Below, Blais Insurance offers a few suggestions to help keep your property secure while you travel.

Ask your neighbors for help. Give a trusted neighbor a key and ask them to periodically check the interior of your home to look for anything unusual such as open doors, fallen branches or broken windows.

Don’t let your home look vacant. To make your home less attractive to thieves, we suggest you arrange for someone to gather your mail and newspapers and mow your lawn. We also recommend you mimic everyday activities by setting timed lights to come on in the evening, or by keeping a car parked in the driveway.

Turn off your water supply. Water damage is the leading cause of homeowners’ insurance claims, because even a small leak can cause significant damage if left undetected. When water leaks are combined with warm summer temperatures, they can lead to expensive mold problems. You may want to consider purchasing a water-flow sensor that ties into your home alarm system to detect water flow that is not normal.

Protect appliances and electronics from power surges. Consider unplugging your television, computer, and other countertop appliances. Unplugging these items not only keeps them from being damaged in the event of a power surge, it can also save you money. According to the Consumer Energy Center, many appliances use power even when they’re turned off.

In the unfortunate event that you do experience a loss while away on vacation, it is important to contact your independent agent at Blais Insurance as soon as possible at 401-725-0070. However, simply taking a few precautionary steps before you leave on vacation will keep your home safe and provide peace of mind while you’re away.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Spring Clean to Protect Your Home

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

This past winter, Rhode Islanders were fortunate to escape harsh weather conditions. However, cold temperatures and even the smallest amount of snow can cause wear and tear to your home. While completing your spring-cleaning, Blais Insurance suggests adding the following tasks to your list. Checking certain items around your home can shield your property from hazards and protect you from potential insurance claims.

When cleaning up the outside of your home, remember to do the following:
  • Check for damage to your roof, and clean gutters and downspouts to keep debris from accumulating. Hire a professional if your roof needs repair.
  • Remove dead limbs or branches from your yard. Keep healthy trees and bushes trimmed and away from utility wires and your home.
  • Safely store oil and gas for lawn equipment in a vented, locked area, such as an outdoor shed or your garage.
  • Repair cracked, broken or uneven driveways and walkways to provide a level walking surface.

While sprucing up the interior of your home, consider the following:
  • Inspect your smoke detectors, and make sure that there is one on each floor of your home. Test them often, and change the batteries as needed.
  • Make sure the light bulbs in all your fixtures are the correct wattage as recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Replace high-intensity bulbs (such as incandescent) with fluorescent bulbs that do not produce as much heat.
  • Check your electrical outlets for potential fire hazards such as frayed wires or loose-fitting plugs. Be sure not to overload electrical outlets or other power sources. 
  • Keep a fire extinguisher accessible, filled and ready for operation.
  • Have your air conditioning system inspected by a professional.
  • Check your water heater for leaks or corrosion.
  • Clean the clothes dryer exhaust duct and space under the dryer. Remove all lint and dust.

Blais Insurance believes that these spring-cleaning tips will help you to avoid costly insurance claims. It is also a good idea to review your current homeowners’ insurance policy to make certain it is still meeting your needs. If you have questions about your home insurance policy, please call Blais Insurance at 401-725-0070.