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8 months ago · by · 0 comments

Technology helps identify, reward safe drivers

Telematics may give parents a tool to help young drivers learn safe habits.

You’re a safe driver: You follow all traffic laws, don’t speed and never allow yourself to be distracted by your phone while driving. Suppose you could take credit for your efforts and earn a discount on your car insurance? With growing adoption of telematics by insurance companies, you can.

WHAT IS TELEMATICS?

Telematics technology is a way for insurers to collect driving habit data to better assess their risk, based on individual drivers. As drivers opt in to providing data, the insurer can tailor pricing to driving behavior, rewarding drivers with good habits.

HOW DOES THE TECHNOLOGY WORK?

The approach varies by company but could involve a plug-in device installed in the car or an app downloaded to the driver’s smartphone. Telematics apps vary by company. They can be part of an insurance company’s own app or downloaded separately to be paired with the company app. When a policyholder drives, the app collects information from each trip and calculates a score based on driving characteristics such as:

·         speeding

·         harsh braking

·         acceleration

·         cornering

·         phone distraction

The app accumulates information over time and produces a driving score.

WHAT DOES YOUR DRIVING SCORE MEAN?

The driving score helps insurance companies determine which drivers are less likely to be involved in accidents and rewards them for their good habits by offering a discount on their automobile insurance premiums. In some cases, participants receive a discount just for signing up for the app and are given the opportunity to earn additional discounts when they renew their policy.

WHAT’S IN IT FOR THE POLICYHOLDER?

In addition to potential premium discounts, this technology may provide peace of mind for parents with teenage drivers in the house. Some apps allow the primary policyholder, typically a parent, the ability to see the scores of their young drivers so they know if they are practicing safe habits. Parents can observe those scores and address risky driving behavior as they choose.

HOW DO I GET MORE INFORMATION?

Each company with this technology uses it differently, so give our agency a call to see if telematics are offered by your insurer. Cincinnati Insurance policyholders may choose to use RideWell, a smartphone app. Discounts can be up to 18% and if you are worried that the company may increase your rates, that can not happen. This is to help lower rates, not increase them.

 

Coverages described here are in the most general terms and are subject to actual policy conditions and exclusions. For actual coverage wording, conditions and exclusions, refer to the policy or contact our agency.

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10 months ago · by · 0 comments

What You Need to Know About Clogged Dryer Vents

There might be a hidden fire hazard lurking around your home and you don’t even know it. The worst part? You probably use this item at least once a week.

It’s your clothes dryer.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, approximately 3,000 dryers catch fire each year. About one-third of those fires are caused by failing to clean your clothes dryer, leading to clogged dryer vents. These fires cause an estimated $238 million in property damage yearly.

The good news is you can quickly fix and monitor this potential danger to help reduce the risk of fire. Here’s what you need to know.

What Happens When a Dryer Vent Is Blocked?

As you dry your clothes in a dryer, little bits of lint and fluff get pulled off of them. You probably notice this when you clean out your lint trap, which is usually just inside the dryer door.

However, not all of the lint, or other things left in your pockets such as tissues, bits of paper and paper towels, are caught. Some lint is also pushed out into your dryer vent. Even if you are diligent about cleaning your dryer lint trap after every use, it won’t catch everything. If you let that accumulate in your dryer vent over time, you could run into problems.

If your dryer vent is blocked, all of this built-up lint can become a fire hazard. The heat from your dryer could cause the lint to combust, potentially catching your dryer and parts of your home on fire.

If you haven’t cleaned your dryer vent in a while there are some tell-tale signs to look for that will let you know you should check it out:

  • Your dryer takes much longer than a typical 45-minute cycle to dry
  • Clothes come out of the dryer damp
  • Your dryer feels very hot to the touch while running
  • There’s a musty odor while the dryer is on
  • You see a lot of lint accumulation outside the trap and vent

You should check your dryer vent once a year, in addition to regularly cleaning your lint trap. However, if you use your dryer a lot, consider checking the vent in both as part of your winter home prep checklist and again in the spring.

How to Clean Your Dryer Vent

Cleaning your dryer vent is a straightforward process that you can easily do yourself:

  • Unplug your dryer and pull it out away from the wall (if you can)—if it runs on gas, turn the gas off and disconnect the gas from the dryer
  • Get a trash bag to make cleanup easier
  • Using a screwdriver, disconnect the vent from the dryer
  • Carefully, using your hand or a dryer vent brush, pull the lint out; you can use a vacuum cleaner attachment to remove any excess lint
  • Once it’s clean, reattach the vent and carefully push your dryer back in; also, plug it back in and reattach the gas line (and turn the gas back on)
  • If you live in a house, go outside and check the vent; usually, there is a cap on it—just unscrew it and pull out the lint
  • Run your dryer for 10-15 minutes; doing this will push any last bits of lint down the vent and outside
  • Once done, go back outside and reattach the cover to the outside vent

And you’re done!

What Does Homeowners Insurance Cover?

A fire inside your home is never a good thing, regardless of where it starts. Your homeowners insurance policy could help if you have a fire due to a clogged dryer vent. Your policy could cover property damage from the fire, including replacing your dryer, as well as your potential financial liability if someone gets hurt or their property is damaged due to the fire. For example, if you have a guest staying who lost their clothes in the dryer fire, your homeowners insurance could help cover the costs of replacement.

If the fire has caused severe damage—for instance, a portion of an exterior wall in your home needs to be replaced—your policy can provide extra funds to cover a stay in a hotel until the damage is repaired.

Regularly cleaning your dryer vent can help reduce the risk of fire, but if the worst were to come, your homeowners policy can help you get back on track. Call our agency if you have any questions about your homeowner insurance coverage.

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12 months ago · by · 0 comments

3 Ways to Avoid Water Trouble This Winter

Avoid Winter Water Trouble With These Three Resources

smart home touch screen graphic

Early Warning Signs

Cold temperatures outside can mean water problems inside. While predicting when a pipe will freeze is difficult, low temperature sensors can help. Sensors alert building owners when the indoor air temperature falls, allowing them time to act before it’s too late.

Read The Article >

Plumbing Protection

When the temperature drops, frozen pipes can turn into busted pipes, leaving your clients with costly water damage. Share this infographic highlighting steps to help prevent frozen pipes.

Download the PDF >

 

 

 

Give Ice Dams the Cold Shoulder

With snow comes the potential for ice dams – ice that traps large pools of water on roofs with nowhere to go… but inside. Check out our tips to see how your clients can avoid ice dams this winter.

Read The Article >

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1 year ago · by · 0 comments

Covid-19 Update | Ohio Governor Signs Covid-19 Legislation

Ohio governor signs COVID-19 legislation

Originally by: Judy Greenwald

September 17, 2020

Gov. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, has signed into law legislation that protects businesses and others from lawsuits arising from exposure to COVID-19, so long as they do not show intentional misconduct.

The legislation follows similar laws that have been enacted by Georgia, Idaho, Nevada and Tennessee, according to tracking by law firm Barnes & Thornburg LLP.

Ohio’s H.B. 606, which was signed into law by Gov. DeWine on Monday, provides civil immunity to businesses as well as schools, health care providers, business and other entities from lawsuits arising from the exposure, transmission or contraction of COVID-19, or any of the virus’ mutation, so long as these entities do not demonstrate reckless, intentional or willful misconduct, according to the legislation.

The legislation states Ohio’s General Assembly is aware that many business owners who are beginning to reopen their businesses are unsure about the tort liability they may face, while recommendations on how best to avoid COVID-19 infection change frequently and are “often not based on well-tested scientific information,” including pronouncements by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The COVID-19 health emergency is new and novel” and the Ohio Supreme Court’s past opinions do not deal with the virus, or duties to protect the public from exposure in public places to airborne germs and viruses, it states.

The law is in effect retroactively from March 9 through Sept. 30, 2021

See some frequently asked questions about covid-19 here.

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1 year ago · by · 0 comments

Most homeowners are under-prepared for floods and underestimate their exposure!

This flood season is forecasted to be worse than average, affecting some 128 million American Homes. Unfortunately, much of that damage is likely to be uninsured. Here are some facts:

41 million people live in higher-risk flood zones – far more than the 13 million estimated by older FEMA models.
⦁ Flooding is possible anywhere it can rain.
⦁ The average cost to repair flood damage is $40,000.
⦁ Flood risk is not fixed. ⦁ Climate change, urban development, and ⦁ failing infrastructure are making floods more common around the country.
⦁ Flood insurance policies for those in moderate- and low-risk areas are generally affordable and can prevent serious economic damage in the event of a flood.

We are usually able to provide you with a Flood Quote in seven questions or less and are just a phone call away!

(614) 443 0533

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2 years ago · by · 0 comments

Frequently Asked Coronavirus Questions

UPDATE (September 17, 2020):

Ohio governor signs COVID-19 legislation

Originally by: Judy Greenwald

September 17, 2020

Gov. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, has signed into law legislation that protects businesses and others from lawsuits arising from exposure to COVID-19, so long as they do not show intentional misconduct.

The legislation follows similar laws that have been enacted by Georgia, Idaho, Nevada and Tennessee, according to tracking by law firm Barnes & Thornburg LLP.

Ohio’s H.B. 606, which was signed into law by Gov. DeWine on Monday, provides civil immunity to businesses as well as schools, health care providers, business and other entities from lawsuits arising from the exposure, transmission or contraction of COVID-19, or any of the virus’ mutation, so long as these entities do not demonstrate reckless, intentional or willful misconduct, according to the legislation.

The legislation states Ohio’s General Assembly is aware that many business owners who are beginning to reopen their businesses are unsure about the tort liability they may face, while recommendations on how best to avoid COVID-19 infection change frequently and are “often not based on well-tested scientific information,” including pronouncements by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The COVID-19 health emergency is new and novel” and the Ohio Supreme Court’s past opinions do not deal with the virus, or duties to protect the public from exposure in public places to airborne germs and viruses, it states.

The law is in effect retroactively from March 9 through Sept. 30, 2021


UPDATE (April 24, 2020): Many of our carriers are now providing relief to our client’s personal auto insurance premiums.

Discounts on personal auto insurance policies provided by the following carriers:

Cincinnati Insurance – 15% discount for April May – https://www.cinfin.com/covid-19

Grange Insurance – 25% discount for April and May that was in effect at the end of March – https://www.grangeinsurance.com/coronavirus

**New business policies written in the months of April or May will also receive a 25% payback that will be prorated for the time they are in effect during this period. Grange Insurance clarifies how and when you will receive your auto payback:
How: You will receive your payback via check mailed to your billing address.
When: Most checks will be distributed in May. New customers (with April or May starts) will receive checks in June.

DOWNLOAD GRANGE FAQ PDF FILE

Progressive Insurance – 20% discount for April May – https://www.progressive.com/support/covid19/

Safeco Insurance – 15% discount for April May – https://www.safeco.com/covid-19

State Auto Insurance – 5% to 15% of entire premium for 6 months through use of telematics –https://cloud.comm.stateauto.com/COVID19customermessage

Travelers Insurance – 15% discount for April May – https://www.travelers.com/about-travelers/covid-19-coronavirus-update

Westfield Personal Auto – 15% discount for April May – https://www.westfieldinsurance.com/covid-19

The list may change as we believe all carriers will provide discounts to their policyholders based on fewer accident claims since the start of the stay at home rule.


At W.E. Davis Insurance Agency, we are very concerned about the issues surrounding the Coronavirus. Our clients’ and friends’ well-being is our most important concern. We hope you will take the advice of our elected officials and medical leaders who are directing the efforts to control the spread. Below is our interpretation of coverage under a business insurance program.

Commercial Insurance Policies and Loss of Income

Most commercial insurance programs have a Business Income coverage part. This is designed to provide protection in the event of a fire or other physical damage to an insured location and you lose income when customers cannot come in to buy your products or services. Generally, this coverage does not cover situations where your location is not physically damaged. i.e. – quarantines, people not coming for reasons beyond your control. This is a considered a “business risk” that all business owners retain. Economic downturns prompted by governmental actions cannot be foreseen by insurance companies so they can not properly price for that type of loss. Thus, it is excluded along with other types of losses like nuclear, war or military action.

Some attorneys are taking the approach that the virus itself causes property damage. If the courts agree there may still be problems trying to receive a claim check. The issue is how long will it take to fix the damage? Well, for most businesses, they would simply have to wash and disinfect the space. That generally would not take very long and most Business Income policies have a 72 hour waiting period before coverage begins. The property could be cleaned before the waiting period is up.

Also See “Does Business Income Coverage cover losses from Coronavirus?”

Where can I get Loss of Income coverage?
The only type of coverage we are aware of that might provide business income loss due to a virus is in the special event and hospitality industries. Large events / venues and hotels can purchase insurance that covers many kinds of business income loss, including illnesses. However, even these policies may contain exclusions regarding loss of income due to the “fear” of something happening.

What if someone gets the virus and becomes ill?
Health Insurance
– The first thing one should do if they believe they’ve been exposed or become ill, is contact their personal physician. Of course, if it seems more serious, our hospitals are gearing up for an influx of patients so go to the ER if you believe your situation is more serious. In terms of insurance, your specific health insurance policy should cover expenses surrounding the virus. You may need to get prior approval for certain procedures, so be sure you make contact with your carrier.  Testing should also be included if medically necessary. Again, check with your insurance carrier for specifics.

Workers Compensation – If an employee believes they became ill at work, Workers Compensation could respond. You should turn in a Workers Compensation claim to be sure, but the issue will be where the employee was exposed and if not at work, Workers Compensation would not apply.

General Liability – If a member of the public (like a client) gets ill from the virus and believes they were exposed at your business, they may try to sue you to collect for damages. If this happens, General Liability insurance might respond. However, these policies all contain a Pollution exclusion and the carrier may consider a virus/bacteria as a pollutant. Other policies might be even more specific and name “virus” as an exclusion.

Professional and Errors and Omissions Liability – If you are a professional (Doctor, Nurse, Accountant, Lawyer, Architect, Engineer or even Insurance Agent) you should have this type of coverage to protect your professional activities. Doctors and Nurses need Malpractice coverage for improper treatment or mistakes in care while the other types of professions need coverage for their advice and counsel. If a lawsuit alleges improper advice that led to a financial loss, coverage might respond. However, there are many exclusions and most exclude the release of Pollutants. (See General Liability above)

Directors and Officers Liability – D&O liability protects an organization from lawsuits that allege improper decisions made by the board that cause financial loss. However, most D&O policies exclude Bodily Injury so it is unlikely these policies would respond to suits alleging illness caused by a virus. The allegation is important so it is impossible to have a general statement regarding coverage for D&O claims.


We are happy to review your specific policy with you to go over the coverage you have. If you believe you have a covered claim, the only way to be sure whether your insurance provides or excludes coverage, is to turn in a loss. We are happy to help you through the process.  In addition, we attach an article that provides more details about the specific types of coverage under commercial property insurance and how it might respond to a claim made regarding the Coronavirus.

We wish you the very best in these difficult times.

Click here to learn more about COMMERCIAL PROPERTY INSURANCE COVERAGE and CORONAVIRUS.

Disclaimer – The W.E. Davis Insurance Agency, Inc. is an Independent Insurance Agency serving their client’s insurance and risk management needs in Ohio and throughout the mid-west. This article is designed to provide basic information and is not providing legal advice. Please consult your insurance agent and/or attorney in determining whether or not to file an insurance claim.

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2 years ago · by · 0 comments

Does Business Income Coverage cover losses from Coronavirus?

Our agency, like most throughout the country are being asked essentially the same question, “Is there coverage in the business income policy for business closure or slow down as a result of the coronavirus?”

Unfortunately, the short simple answer is, no, there is no coverage. The longer answer is a bit more complicated, even though the ultimate answer is the same – no coverage.

In this short piece, three business income coverages are reviewed:

  • The business income coverage itself;
  • The additional coverage for civil authority; and
  • Dependent property coverage.

Business Income

We will begin with the insuring agreement from the business income coverage. The form reads:

We will pay for the actual loss of Business Income you sustain due to the necessary “suspension” of your “operations” during the “period of restoration”. The “suspension” must be caused by direct physical loss of or damage to property at premises which are described in the Declarations and for which a Business Income Limit Of Insurance is shown in the Declarations. The loss or damage must be caused by or result from a Covered Cause of Loss.

Within this insuring agreement, there are three key coverage triggers to consider, “suspension of…operations,” “direct physical loss or damage” and “covered cause of loss.” Let’s review each trigger.

Suspension of operations. Given the local, state or federal requirements, this condition may apply as the business may be shut down by a regulatory authority. As of this writing, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington have all shut down restaurants and bars. The debate may be the necessity, but government made it necessary. So, regardless of the abuse of power and intrusion into our lives by the government, this requirement is met.

Direct physical loss or damage: Here is the first question that causes a bit of problem for whether coverage exists. Does or can a virus cause physical damage?

Physical or property damage as understood and applied in the courts requires physical harm generally evidenced by changes in the physical characteristics that require repair.

Consider an invisible virus on any property or even in the property, does the presence of a virus on a surface or in the air change the physical characteristics such that repair is required? Given the everyday application and meaning of those terms, no, the virus does not result in property damage.

So, there is no property damage as required by the form, and without property damage, business income coverage does not respond.

Covered Cause of Loss: Even if the presence of a virus can be “forced” by the courts to be considered property damage; is the mere presence of the virus a covered cause of loss? This is a longer discussion than the other two triggers discussed above; let’s detail this trigger.

Is a Virus a Covered Cause of Loss

Is the presence of the virus a covered cause of loss? Of course, whether it’s a covered cause of loss or not matters only if presence of the virus can cause property damage according to the courts.

There is a specific exclusion within the policy that may apply in addition to a mandatory exclusionary endorsement. Let’s look at both exclusions.

Within ISO’s business income policy written on a special cause of loss form, the following is excluded:

  1. Discharge, dispersal, seepage, migration, release or escape of “pollutants” unless the discharge, dispersal, seepage, migration, release or escape is itself caused by any of the “specified causes of loss”.

A “pollutant” is defined in the form to mean: “any solid, liquid, gaseous or thermal irritant or contaminant, including smoke, vapor, soot, fumes, acids, alkalis, chemicals and waste.” A contaminate, particularly a biological “contaminant,” is defined as a contamination of food or environment with microorganisms such as bacteria, VIRUSES, fungi or parasites.

Based on the policy wording and the applicable meaning of “contaminant,” the unendorsed policy excludes coverage for the presence of a virus via the pollution exclusion. But even this isn’t going to stop some attorneys from grasping at straws and any possibility of coverage. On March 16, the first business income suit was filed in Louisiana (Cajun Conti, LLC et al DBA Oceana Grill v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s (and others including the governor and state)).

But even if the virus is considered property damage AND the pollution exclusion is ignored, how long will the “damage” be present?

  • Surface can be disinfected in one day.
  • If not taken care of and disinfected by the owner – according to recent scientific research, the virus can live for only a short time:
    • Up to four hours in the air depending on the consistency (mist vs. droplets); and
    • One to three days on surfaces – depending on the surface

Most Business Income policies have a 72-hour “deductible” or waiting period; so unless the waiting period has been reduced by endorsement (CP 15 56), there won’t be qualifying property damage after a maximum of three days for there to be a qualifying loss. But what about recontamination? Every new contamination is a new event and a new waiting period begins.

If the pollution exclusion is ignored, there is a mandatory endorsement attached to ISO property policies that removes all doubts, the CP 01 40. ISO Released the CP 01 40-Exclusion of Loss Due to Virus or Bacteria in 2006 as a mandatory endorsement to specifically exclude loss resulting from a Virus or bacteria.

ISO stated in the initial filing that the presence of viruses was NEVER intended to be covered due to the pollution exclusion, but they anticipated that some would torture the policy. The CP 01 40 was introduced to negate “efforts to expand coverage and to create sources of recovery for such losses, contrary to policy intent.” (ISO wording in the release.)

Business Income Result

So, what’s the result? There is no business income coverage.

  • There is no property damage – thus there is no coverage.
  • If courts disagree about property damage AND ignore the pollution exclusion, what is the period of damage? According to scientist, a maximum of three days without human intervention. (Remember, there is generally a 72-hour deductible.)
  • If CP 01 40 attached, there is no question that there is no coverage.

Ultimately and overall, there is no Business Income Coverage.

Civil Authority

Let’s go to the policy and look at the wording in regard to civil authority (slightly abridged):

  1. Civil Authority

In this Additional Coverage, Civil Authority, the described premises are premises to which this Coverage Form applies, as shown in the Declarations.

When a Covered Cause of Loss causes damage to property other than property at the described premises, we will pay for the actual loss of Business Income you sustain…caused by action of civil authority that prohibits access to the described premises, provided that both of the following apply:

(1) Access to the area immediately surrounding the damaged property is prohibited by civil authority as a result of the damage, and the described premises are within that area but are not more than one mile from the damaged property; and

(2) The action of civil authority is taken in response to dangerous physical conditions resulting from the damage or continuation of the Covered Cause of Loss that caused the damage, or the action is taken to enable a civil authority to have unimpeded access to the damaged property.

Civil Authority Coverage for Business Income will begin 72 hours after the time of the first action of civil authority that prohibits access to the described premises and will apply for a period of up to four consecutive weeks from the date on which such coverage began and will end:

(1) Four consecutive weeks after the date of that action; or

(2) When your Civil Authority Coverage for Business Income ends;

whichever is later.

What are the requirements for there to be coverage? Some look very familiar:

  • There must be a covered “cause of loss.” The damage, if there is any, is excluded by either the pollution exclusion or the CP 01 40.
  • Access to the area must be prohibited by the civil authority. You can still get into the area you just can’t go into the building (maybe).
  • The property damage must have occurred within 1 mile of insured’s premises.
  • The civil authority must prohibit access due to dangerous physical conditions. Is it the property or the people that might lead to a civil authority decree? This is a biological condition not a physical condition.
  • There is a 72-Hour “deductible.”

What is the result of these requirements? There is likely no coverage.

Dependent Property Coverage

Before we look at the coverage, let’s first define what qualifies as a dependent property. Dependent properties eligible for coverage in the business income form include:

  • Buyers (ISO terminology – Recipient Locations);
  • Suppliers (ISO – Contributing Locations);
  • Providers (ISO – Manufacturing Locations); and
  • Drivers (ISO – Leader Locations).

Let’s review the language from one of the four endorsements:

  1. We will pay for the actual loss of Business Income you sustain due to the necessary “suspension” of your “operations” during the “period of restoration”. The “suspension” must be caused by direct physical loss of or damage to “dependent property” at the premises described in the Schedule caused by or resulting from a Covered Cause of Loss.

Note the common requirements found in this language. There must be direct physical loss or damage and the damage must be from a covered cause of loss. Given the similarities, how does this coverage respond? Applying the same reasoning as that found in the other two sections, there is no coverage.

The Moral of the Story

In the business income policy, with or without the CP 01 40, there is no coverage – unless:

  • Courts ignore the meaning and reality of property damage;
  • Courts ignore the pollution exclusion (in the absence of the CP 01 40); or
  • Governmental authorities intervene.

Even if coverage is found – there is generally a 72-hour deductible. The virus doesn’t live in the air on surfaces beyond that amount of time.

Here is the final reality, is it the property or the people that is the problem? Is this a biological issue or a property damage issue? The commercial property policy is not designed to cover biological issues, it is for property issues.

To end this article, given the policy wording and requirements, there is no coverage for a business income loss resulting from the coronavirus. 

However, if you want to make a claim, we will gladly do it and let the carrier make the final determination. Please call our office if you wish to take this approach.

See More Coronavirus Frequently Asked Questions Here…

(Most of the text from this article was written by Christopher J. Boggs on behalf of the Independent Insurance Agents Association of America.)

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3 years ago · by · Comments Off on Planning key to successful home renovation

Planning key to successful home renovation

Home improvement projects seem to have no season. While many big outdoor projects happen in spring and summer, homeowners may find the best time to work on a renovation project is when contractors are available or materials are less expensive. In fact, if your project is not weather-dependent, you might get a better deal at some other time of year.

No matter when you plan your next home project, our bloggers have tips that can ease your mind.

DO IT YOURSELF OR HIRE IT OUT?

One of the first questions you may consider is whether to do the work yourself or hire a contractor. The internet is full of videos showing step by step how to complete almost any task. If you have the skills, you might get just what you want by doing it yourself. But if you’re short on time, you might be willing to pay for the services of a professional craftsman. Some projects also bring significant safety risks. If you don’t know the territory, you’re probably safer hiring out the work. Our blogger goes into detail about what to look for in a contractor.

Home improvement: Contractor vs. do-it-yourself


FOR THE DIY OPTION

If you already decided to tackle a project yourself, there are some things you can do to make sure you get the best results. Preparation is key, but you also need to pay attention to items that could pose a safety hazard or cause unwanted damage. One of our bloggers is an accomplished DIYer and speaks from experience on things to do … and things to avoid.

4 steps to avoid common DIY mistakes


DIY HOME SECURITY SYSTEMS

One upgrade on many home improvement lists is the home security system. With all the Wi-Fi technology that’s available, many systems no longer require drilling holes and fishing wires through walls. Because of this, homeowners are attempting projects themselves. What should you consider when planning a home security system? There are pros and cons to all the available devices, and even whether you SHOULD do it yourself or hire a home security consultant. Our blog offers food for thought.

Is a DIY security system right for you?


BASIC POWER TOOL SAFETY

Most home DIY projects require some sort of tool. You can assume that most homeowners have basic hand tools, but falling costs mean electric, gas-powered and air-powered tools are no longer out of reach of most homeowners. And for highly specialized tasks, you can affordably rent the specialized tools to get the job done. Whether you own or rent, make sure you use power tools safely.

7 tips for using power tools safely at home


AND DON’T FORGET INSURANCE

And remember that home improvement projects do just that: Improve your home. After all your diligent work – whether you do it yourself or hire a professional – be aware that the improvement can increase the value of your home. In case of a loss, you don’t want to be caught underinsured. Whenever you plan a renovation, touch base with your insurance agent to make sure your policy keeps up.

Remodeling, renovation can affect home’s value

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3 years ago · by · Comments Off on Tips to protect taxpayers from ID theft

Tips to protect taxpayers from ID theft

Tax return identity theft has reached such epidemic proportions that it tops the list of the IRS’s Dirty Dozen Tax Scams. Here are tips the IRS wants you to know about identity theft so you can avoid becoming the victim.

  • Phishing: Taxpayers should be alert to potential fake emails or websites looking to steal personal information. The IRS will never initiate contact with taxpayers via email about a bill or tax refund. Don’t click on one claiming to be from the IRS. Be wary of emails and websites that may be nothing more than scams to steal personal information. (IR-2018-39)
  • Phone Scams: Phone calls from criminals impersonating IRS agents remain an ongoing threat to taxpayers. The IRS has seen a surge of these phone scams in recent years as con artists threaten taxpayers with police arrest, deportation and license revocation, among other things. (IR-2018-40)
  • Identity Theft: Taxpayers should be alert to tactics aimed at stealing their identities, not just during the tax filing season, but all year long. The IRS, working in the Security Summit partnership with the states and the tax industry, has made major improvements in detecting tax return related identity theft during the last two years. But the agency reminds taxpayers that they can help in preventing this crime. The IRS continues to aggressively pursue criminals that file fraudulent tax returns using someone else’s Social Security number. (IR-2018-42)
  • Return Preparer Fraud: Be on the lookout for unscrupulous return preparers. The vast majority of tax professionals provide honest, high-quality service. There are some dishonest preparers who operate each filing season to scam clients, perpetuating refund fraud, identity theft and other scams that hurt taxpayers. (IR-2018-45)
  • Fake Charities: Groups masquerading as charitable organizations solicit donations from unsuspecting contributors. Be wary of charities with names similar to familiar or nationally-known organizations. Contributors should take a few extra minutes to ensure their hard-earned money goes to legitimate charities. IRS.gov has the tools taxpayers need to check out the status of charitable organizations. (IR-2018-47)

 

 

Identity theft is scary and expensive for both individuals and businesses, but there are ways to protect yourself. Refer to the Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft or the IRS Identity Theft Protection page on the IRS website, and then ask your independent insurance agent for more information about data compromise and identity theft coverage.

This loss control information is advisory only. The author assumes no responsibility for management or control of loss control activities. Not all exposures are identified in this article. Neither The Cincinnati Insurance Company nor its affiliates or representatives offer tax or legal advice. Consult with your tax adviser or attorney about your specific situation. Contact your local, independent insurance agent for coverage advice and policy service.

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3 years ago · by · 0 comments

Wildfires Worsen California’s Construction Labor Shortage

The high cost of living in California’s Bay Area is legendary. And with the construction industry facing a number of challenges — including the need to rebuild after horrific wildfires — that’s set to only rise.

Developers are having trouble getting their projects finished — or even started, reports CBS affiliate KPIX. One construction foreman told the station he’s four to five weeks behind schedule on his site.

A nationwide survey released this week by Autodesk and the Associated General Contractors of America shows the scope of the problem. Some 80 percent of construction companies say they’re having a hard time filling hourly craft positions. Those include bricklayers, installers, pipelayers and carpenters. And more than half of companies are having trouble filling salaried positions, like project managers, engineers and architects.

“This is about money — they want to make a living,” said construction worker Jimmy Ramerez.

Contractors aren’t expecting relief anytime soon. Nearly half of employers in California say it will become even harder to hire over the next 12 months.

On top of the already-tight labor market, the Bay Area is also contending with natural disasters. Last year, wildfires in neighboring counties destroyed more than 5,000 structures. This year’s fires are on record as the largest in California’s history.

In the North Bay, construction workers are being paid top dollar to help repair fire-ravaged communities, which pulls more people away from the Bay Area.

“They’re poaching our guys and offering more money per hour to go and work for them,” the foreman said. “They’re leaving us high and dry.”

Materials costs, driven up partly by tariffs, are also part of the squeeze. Developer Eric Tau said he has seen an increase of 10 percent to 15 percent in costs — about triple the jump he had expected. “It’s something we have never seen in all of our 15 to 20 years in construction development,” he said.

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