Thursday, December 3, 2015

How to Properly Choose and Display Your Christmas Tree

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

For many households, a Christmas tree is as much a tradition as a family gathering. Knowing how to safely decorate a tree is just as important as choosing one. To keep your home safe this holiday season, Blais Insurance recommends the following precautions:
  • Choose a Fresh Tree
    • Check the tree for any visible brown needles and see if the branches can hold steadily. If they snap easily, the tree is too brittle and unsafe to hang d├ęcor off of.
  • Choose a Sturdy Stand
    • Before placing your tree into a stand, cut 1-2 inches off the bottom of the tree. Make sure your stand can hold a gallon of water prior to placing the tree. Check the stand frequently to make sure it is full.
  •  Be Aware of Fire Safety
    • Even if your tree is artificial, it is still susceptible to fire. Before purchasing an artificial tree, check to make sure it is certified as flame-retardant. Make sure your smoke alarms are in working order and that your tree is at least three feet away from heat sources.
    • Real trees have extreme potential for fire danger. See how quickly your home can become susceptible to damage if your tree catches: 

Once your tree is up and you prepare to decorate, here are some tips to keep in mind while hanging lights and ornaments:
  • Use A Safe Amount of Lights
    • When it comes to Christmas lights, quality should always be more important than quantity. Check to make sure no bulbs or power cords are damaged. Do not use more than three strands of mini-lights or more than 50 bulbs for screw-in light sets.
  • Do Not Overload a Power Circuit
    • Attach a maximum of three strings to an electrical circuit to reduce the risk of a power surge
  • Do Not Leave Loose Wires Unattended
    • Place any hanging wires or strings along the wall to prevent a tripping hazard. Do not place any wires under rugs or carpets.
  • Turn Off Lights When Not in Use

From all of us at Blais Insurance, we wish you and your family a safe and fulfilling holiday season!

For more information on how to prevent Christmas tree and other winter fires, visit www.usfa.fema.gove/winter. 

Information for this article provided by: 10 Christmas Tree Safety Tips (

Monday, November 23, 2015

Safe Travels This Thanksgiving Holiday

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

If you and your family are traveling to visit loved ones, it is important to be aware of others who may be doing the same. An estimated 42 million people will be traveling this Thanksgiving season. No matter your destination or travel route, Blais Insurance would like to provide you with these travel safety precautions:
  • Pay close attention to weather conditions prior to departure. Try to avoid driving in conditions such as dense fog and freezing rain. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supply kit in your vehicle.
  • Be sure to check that your vehicle is in good working order. Your tires should be properly inflated and both your gas and wiper fluid tanks should be filled.
  • Make sure everyone is wearing a seat belt. In 2013, 883 people were killed in auto accidents resulting from failure to wear a seatbelt. Of those fatalities, nearly half could have been prevented through proper seatbelt use.
  • If driving for an extended length, make frequent stops and switch drivers periodically to allow adequate rest time.
Although they are much more expedient methods of transportation, planes and trains can also present safety concerns. Given that Thanksgiving occurs during flu season, please keep in mind the following tips to ensure safe travels:
  • If someone in your family has been sick the week before, consider postponing your trip.
  • Although symptoms may disappear, you remain contagious for about a week.
  • Handle your own belongings as much as possible. Wash your hands frequently if you come into contact with others.
  • Carry hand sanitizer and/or disinfectant wipes with you
  • Bring your own blankets and pillows

On behalf of all of us at Blais Insurance, we wish you and your family a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

Information for this article provided by: The American Red Cross

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Are My Golf Clubs Covered Under My Homeowners Policy?

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

In recent years, annual golf equipment thefts have exceeded beyond two hundred million dollars annually. Fortunately for most, reimbursement for theft or damage to golf clubs is covered under their homeowner’s insurance policy – but is the coverage you have enough to replace them?  Your clubs, as well as all other very mobile personal property items of significant value, are highly susceptible to theft. 

But with your golf clubs - perhaps more so than other items, owing to their nature and use and further complicated by the fact that we tend to keep them in the trunk of our car - the chances are very good that they won’t be stolen from your home.  If your car is stolen and your clubs were in the trunk, your clubs were just stolen too. Or if your car is involved in an accident, chances are good that the clubs were damaged too.  You need make sure that the coverage you have for your clubs is the coverage you need for them – prior to the loss.  At loss time, when you need it, it is too late to get any more of it.

Once you have the proper coverage in place, and to better avoid losses involving your golf clubs, here are some often overlooked easy tips you may want to follow:
  • Immediately after finishing, count your clubs and place them into the trunk of your car. If you have left a club on the course, your chances of recovering it are much better the sooner you identify and report it missing to course personnel.
  • Park in a locked garage or monitored area.  Even better is to remove your clubs from your trunk once you arrive at your home or wherever you are staying.
  • When traveling, attach your name and address to both your travel cover and golf bag
When you purchase new clubs, be sure to keep the receipts or purchase records to expedite the process of filing a claim. Blais Insurance is happy to discuss the details of your homeowner’s insurance policy to see if you are properly covered. Call us today at 401-725-0070 to learn more.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Insuring Your College Student While They’re Away

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

As you prepare to send your child off to college, it’s important to ensure their valuables are protected. Blais Insurance offers additional coverage that can be added on to your existing policy and varies depending on where your child will be living and the type of coverage you are looking for.  

If your child will be living in a dorm or college-owned building, their possessions should be automatically covered from theft, loss and damage through your basic homeowner’s policy, subject to the applicable limits and coverages selected by the homeowner. Coverage is generally limited to 10% of the policy’s coverage limit for contents, and deductibles may apply. If your policy covers contents up to $100,000, your child’s college possessions coverage would be $10,000, less the policy deductible. It may be wise to consider lowering your deductible if you’re planning to protect your child’s possessions while at school.  

Homeowner’s policies may not cover specialty items like fine jewelry and artwork without additional protection: the general rule of thumb being that special things require special coverage.  Moreover, there is a coverage limitation that may apply in the instance where your son is away from the insured location for a period longer than 30 days.  Lastly, special considerations may be necessary for a child studying abroad.

If your child will be renting an apartment off-college property, their possessions are no longer covered under your homeowner’s policy. Even if their legal address is still your home, their apartment will most likely be viewed as their residence. However, they do have the option of taking out a renter’s insurance policy for as little as $15 to $30 a month. Renters insurance comes in two basic forms: replacement-value policies and cash-value policies. Replacement-value policies generally cost more, and both types may have coverage limits requiring extra protection for some items. Renters insurance works the same as homeowner’s insurance, but without the dwelling coverages that are unnecessary for a building they do not own.

Your child should create an inventory of possessions in case a claim is filed. It is also important for your inventory at home to have a section of items that are with your child at college.

Make sure to read your policy carefully before deciding which coverage is best for you and your child. Eligibility, coverage limits and deductibles should all be taken into consideration. If you have any questions about your current policy or would like to add additional coverage, be sure to call Blais Insurance at 725.0070.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Why You Need an Umbrella Insurance Policy

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

You’ve just purchased a new home and you’ve gone through all the motions to buy a homeowners insurance policy.  Maybe one day a guest slips on your property and sues you.  Your homeowner’s policy may not provide enough coverage to protect you, and you may end up being responsible for their medical expenses, as well as other legal damages and fees.

This scenario is more common than you think, and many times the homeowner finds out the hard way that their standard homeowner’s policy just doesn’t provide enough coverage.  Personal umbrella insurance policies are designed to help in such events. 

Umbrella insurance is a form of liability insurance that provides additional coverage above the limits of your basic policies. It can protect you from bodily injury liability claims, as well as property damage liability claims. Umbrella policies also provide a broader form of coverage and can help cover legal fees, even if you are not found at-fault. The best thing is that a personal umbrella policy is more affordable than you might think.

When determining how much more additional coverage you need, you should consider these three factors:
  1. Potential loss of income – Should you be found responsible in the event of a lawsuit, purchasing a larger policy limit will protect both your current assets and future income.
  2. The value of your assets – This includes property, retirement funds, possessions, art, and other important belongings.
  3.  All possible risks you may face – This may include owning a pool, acting as a landlord, and anything else you may be found liable for if something were to go wrong.
Life can throw many unexpected curveballs, but we’re here to help. The funny thing about liability insurance is that the minute you need it, it's too late to buy more of it; so be sure to call Blais Insurance at 401-725-0070 to discuss adding an umbrella insurance policy today.

Information for this article provided by

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Staying Safe During Summer Storms

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

Summer’s heat and humidity presents the perfect conditions for thunderstorms. However, these storms can be dangerous to both your home and family. This is why Blais Insurance wants to suggest these safety ideas in the event of a storm.

Before a Thunderstorm:

· Remember the 30/30 Lightning Safety Rule: If you hear thunder and cannot count to 30 seconds before the next thunder clap, head inside; stay indoors for 30 minutes after the storm is over
· Remove dead trees and branches that could fall and damage your home or vehicle(s)
· Secure outdoor objects that could blow away
· Unplug electronic equipment
· Prepare an emergency kit; items should include water, flashlights and batteries

During a Storm:

· Avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords, including devices plugged in for recharging
· Remain inside and stay away from windows and doors
· If you are driving, safely exit or pull over and park; do not touch any surface that conducts electricity in or outside of the vehicle

After a Storm:

· Avoid driving through flooded roadways
· Avoid storm-damaged areas and fallen trees
· Stay away from downed power lines and report them immediately

In addition, we suggest subscribing to an emergency alert service. Many phone applications now have systems that will send instant text alerts or e-mails to inform you of bad weather, road closings, local emergencies, etc.

For more information on summer safety, please call Blais Insurance at (401) 725-0070.

Information for this article provided by: Thunderstorm Safety and Family Communications

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Why it is Important to Create a Home Inventory

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

If your home is struck by disaster and you’re faced with a loss, would you be able to remember all of your damaged or destroyed possessions?  This is why creating a home inventory is essential, especially when filing your insurance claim.  Having an up-to-date inventory can work to verify your losses and help determine the proper amount of coverage you need.

According to a 2012 survey from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), more than half of Americans do not have a home inventory of their possessions – putting them at risk for inadequate home insurance coverage, should severe weather strike.   

Developing a proper and complete home inventory is a simple process. Though it may take some time, you’ll find that, should you ever need it, you will be relieved to have one on-hand and current.

Please see below for some useful tips on how to create a comprehensive home inventory:

Document valuable items: Items such as jewelry, fine art and other collectibles may have increased in value since you received them. Check with your agent to make certain that you have adequate insurance for these items, as they may need to be insured separately.

Take photos: In addition to your list, taking pictures of these items will help secure your inventory. On the back of these photos, you should note what is shown, when and where it was purchased, the serial number, and its estimated value. Remember to not forget things that are in closets or drawers.

Videotape belongings: You could also walk through your home or apartment videotaping and describing these contents for easier documentation.

Properly store your lists/photos/videos: Keep your inventory and available receipts in your safe deposit box or at a relative's home. This way if your home is damaged, your inventory will remain secure. Remember to update the information on your inventory regularly.

If you have any questions regarding a home inventory, or other insurance related topics, one of our friendly, knowledgeable agents will be happy to speak with you.  Call Blais Insurance at 401-725-0070 today to discuss how we may help to better protect your treasured possessions.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Traveling for April Vacation? Don’t Leave Your Home Unprotected

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

School vacation is fast approaching, and we know you’re eager to get away with your family for some much needed quality time.  As you pack your suitcases and tend to all of your last minute travel plans, don’t forget to take care of the most important task on your to-do list: protecting your home while you’re away.

At Blais Insurance, we take the safety and security of your home and family very seriously, and strive to prepare and protect you for whatever happens.  Therefore, we have provided you with tips and more for you to follow before taking some much needed time off this season.

1.     Make it appear that your home is still occupied.  Before going away, many homeowners wonder if they should leave their blinds open or closed.  The answer: keep them in the same position as you normally do when you are home. You should also consider installing motion sensor lights outside your home so that they turn on as soon as someone gets too close.  Leave a few lights on inside while you’re away to avoid a dead giveaway that the home is vacant.

2.     Ask a friend or neighbor to check on your home while you’re away.  Having someone monitor your residence on a regular basis may help avoid making your home a target for crime.  Ask them to hold your mail, check to see if there is any evidence of a break-in around your home, and contact the police immediately if they suspect anything out of the ordinary.

3.     Avoid posting a status about your vacation plans. Criminals actively search for these types of updates to see which homes will be easy to access.  Instead, wait to post pictures of your trip until after you return home.

4.     Unplug all unnecessary appliances.  Protect your home from an electrical fire or power surge by unplugging anything that will not be in use during your vacation. This includes your TV, toaster, coffee maker, and other small appliances.

Vacation is meant to be a time of relaxation. Before spending time away from home this season, be sure to take the necessary precautions, including insuring your valued possessions.  While making your vacation plans, be sure to call Blais Insurance at 725-0070 to make certain that your time away will be spent worry-free. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Tips to Avoid Identity Theft

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

In today’s digital world, we can do just about everything online.  Shop, pay bills, sell items, you name it.  However, some have learned the hard way that this type of convenience comes with a high risk. 

Each year, over 15 million cases of identity theft are reported due to increased levels of information sharing and low levels of consumer protection knowledge.  At Blais Insurance, we want you to understand how to avoid these unfortunate instances by following these simple and effective tips:

Only carry essential documents with you
Not carrying extra credit cards, your Social Security card, birth certificate or passport with you outside the house can help you prevent identity theft.

Keep new checks out of the mail
When ordering new checks, you can prevent identity theft by picking them up at the bank instead of having them sent to your home. This makes it harder for your checks to be stolen, altered and cashed by thieves.

Secure your network
If you have a wireless network at home or at work, make sure that you secure it. A hacker can gain access to information sent through an unsecured network in a matter of seconds.

Only make purchases on trusted sites
When shopping online, stick with trusted, well-known online retailers, or smaller sites that use reputable payment processors like PayPal or Google Checkout. Always make sure to look for the padlock icon on the bottom of your browser to verify that the page is safe.

Stay on top of your credit
Make sure your credit reports are accurate and that you sign up for a credit monitoring service, which can alert you about changes in your credit report by email.

Create passwords or PIN numbers out of a random mix of letters and numbers
Doing so makes it harder for identity thieves to discover these codes, and makes it easier for you to prevent identity theft.

Don’t reuse passwords
This way, if someone does find out what your password is for one credit card, they won’t also be able to access your other accounts.

Following these simple steps may not guarantee that your identity won’t be stolen, but they can definitely decrease your chances.  If you do find you have fallen victim to fraud, report it to your financial institution immediately. You can also contact the credit-reporting bureaus and ask them to flag your account with a fraud alert, which asks merchants not to grant new credit without your approval.

We thank you for trusting Blais Insurance for all your insurance needs.  While we may not be able to fully protect your identity online, we can protect you in all other aspects of life.  Many consumers are unaware that identity theft protection can be purchased by a simple endorsement on their homeowner's policy at a surprisingly low cost.  Please call us at 401-725-0070 today to learn more.

Information provided from: How to Prevent Identity Theft, Identity Theft, How to Report Identity Theft