Moving. It can be the best of times. It can be the worst of times.

But for better or worse, the average American will change homes 11.4 times during his or her
lifetime.

Amid the excitement and stress, it’s easy forget that moving will affect your home and auto insurance. You want to be prepared.

Changes to Your Home Insurance

When you realize a move is in your future, turn to your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent for help. Here are a few subjects you’ll want to discuss:

Your current home. If you’ve accepted an offer to sell, remember that a fire, windstorm or other damage could easily delay closing or even cancel the sale. Your agent will assist in making sure the insurance coverage lasts until the ownership change is formalized.

If you’ll still own your current home while living elsewhere, your agent needs to know immediately. Failure to inform the insurance company that a home is no longer owner-occupied can significantly affect or even eliminate coverage on it.

Can you keep the same agent and insurance company? Your current agent and insurance provider may be able write the policy on your new home, transfer any credits you’ve qualified for and apply any premium you’ve already paid.

But if your current agent or provider doesn’t operate in the area where you’re moving, your Trusted Choice agent can help you find a new agent and provider.

New neighborhood. New rules? Your Trusted Choice independent agent can also offer information about differences in insurance rules between one location and another. For example, your new home may be in a designated flood zone and require flood insurance or be in an area where policies include a separate deductible for windstorms.

What about personal property? Our stuff is important! Whether you own or rent your current and new home, talk with your agent about how coverage will apply:

1. If your property is damaged while it is being packed or is in storage or transit.

2. If your property is damaged while it is being unpacked at your new place or after it has been moved.

If you need more coverage, your agent will help you explore options. Also, if you are hiring professional movers, remember that they are required by federal law to provide at least a basic level of liability insurance with additional insurance available for purchase.

Changes to Your Auto Insurance

You may be moving, but chances are you’re not changing cars at the same time. Even so, it’s still essential to contact your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent. Here are a few reasons why:

Your risk exposure could change. This can happen even if you move just across town or to a different city in your own state. For example, your exposure will change if you are moving from a rural area to a higher-traffic area, or if your new home is further away from your work, increasing the total number of miles you normally drive.

You may qualify for new discounts or (eek, we’re sorry!) lose ones you currently have. For example, if you rent your current home but are buying your new one, you may now qualify for a homeownership discount.

New state? New laws. If you move to a new state, you’ll need a new policy because auto insurance is regulated by state law. Note that, as was the case with your home insurance, your current agent and insurance provider may not operate in your new location. Ask your current Trusted Choice agent for help in finding a new one.

Make New Memories

It’s important time to evaluate the insurance on your home, stuff and autos whenever you move. It’s also the perfect time to take inventory, including photos and video, of your possessions. That inventory is key to accurately insuring the things you treasure.

Happy moving! Enjoy making your new house or apartment into a home. And remember, you can rely on your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent to help you along your way. Contact Us today!

Thinking about a DIY home improvement project? Maybe a new kitchen or bathroom makeover?

If project excites you, you’re not alone. The Home Improvement Research Institute (HIRI) says do-it-yourselfers complete two-thirds of home improvement projects — and spend less than those who depend solely on contractors. While saving money is satisfying, the sense of accomplishment DIYers feel is even better.

But before you pick up a hammer or grab a paintbrush, you’ll need to do some homework. As you draw plans, budget, purchase materials and secure permits, you also need to think about insurance. Talk to your Trusted Choice Independent Insurance Agent® before you start work. Your agent can help you assess the unexpected risks of your project.

Here are five common renovation projects that may require additional insurance:

Kitchen renovation
Maybe you’ve been dreaming of a new kitchen, one with quartz countertops and Wi-Fi-enabled appliances. Kitchen remodels can add convenience and significant value to your home, but there are a few insurance considerations:

• Depending on your level of experience, you may need the help of a plumber or electrician. Make sure the contractors you hire are bonded and insured. Do they carry liability insurance? Ask to see their certificate of coverage.

• Check with your agent to see if you should increase your homeowners coverage. If your renovation substantially increases the value of your house, you could be underinsured if you haven’t raised your limits. Generally, you need enough insurance to replace 80% of your home’s value.

• Will friends be helping you? Ask your agent about adding no-fault coverage or raising your medical expenses coverage.

Bathroom makeover
You have visions of a soaking tub, new vanities and imported marble tile. Sounds delightful, but keep these points in mind:

• You may need a plumber to help you move a water line or drain. Bear in mind that water damage caused by your faulty workmanship won’t be covered by your homeowners policy. On the other hand, if you use a contractor, their business insurance should cover the damage to your home.

• Will that expensive marble be sitting in your driveway after it’s delivered? Costly materials have a way of walking away from a job site. Check to see if your policy covers theft or damage to your building materials.

Home office
You’ve decided to convert a spare bedroom into a home office. It’s an easy renovation, but
here are some insurance considerations:

• Most homeowners policies only provide limited coverage (up to about $2,500) for office equipment. If you have items that exceed that amount, you’ll need additional coverage. Your agent can recommend some options.

• If you’re doing work for your firm at home, make sure you’re covered by the company’s business and workers’ compensation policies. If you’re self-employed, you may need a separate business policy, especially if clients visit your house.

Sunroom
You’ve always wanted a room off the kitchen to take advantage of the morning sun. Sunrooms can provide enjoyment year-round, but you do need to keep a few things in mind:

• Talk to your agent about adding a new room to your homeowners policy. You may be able to get a discount if you install energy-efficient windows or heavy-duty locks on an exterior door.

• Is the project insured against severe weather? Theft or vandalism? You may need a builders risk policy.

Finished basement
You’re planning to create extra living space in the basement for your growing family. You’ve contracted to have a French drain and a sump pump installed to prevent water from leaking in. You’ve also decided to live in a friend’s house while you work on the project.

Considerations:

• If your house is unoccupied during construction, you may need vacant home insurance.

• Be sure to get a warranty on the French drain. Flooding isn’t covered by homeowners insurance. However, you can add water backup coverage to your policy to pay for damage if your sump pump fails.

• Game room? Home theater? Extra bathroom? You may need to increase the limits on your homeowners policy. On the other hand, upgrading old wiring or installing a security system could lower your premiums.

If you’ve got the home renovation bug, maybe it’s time you joined the ranks of millions of satisfied DIYers. Just remember to contact your Trusted Choice agent to get your insurance needs squared away:  Call our office directly.


A vintage home affords character, imagination in design and unique features not available in homes built today. With that said, homes and apartments built prior to the 1980’s are bound to have some safety elements that are worth investigating and updating for the optimal health and safety of your family.

If you are moving into a home with some vintage flair, consider investigating the potential health hazards that come along with it.

Home safety is part of home ownership

Take responsibility for potential hazards before they become an issue for you, your loved ones or your guests.

While you may not be able to eliminate all of the hazards from your home, with some effort, you should be able to minimize as many potential hazards as possible.

If you start with the top five common hazards and evaluate room by room, you should be able to cover most of the potential issues in your home, whether your home is new or not.

After that, as a responsible homeowner, you should make regular evaluations of your home every season or so. This will also give you a different perspective on what is needed as some hazards in and around your home are often seasonal.

While the responsibility of home safety can be a drag, the benefits far outweigh the risks. The effort it takes to assess and reduce the dangers vs dealing with the potential dangers (fire, disease, poisoning) is definitely worth making time for.

Top Five Home Hazards:

1. Falls
2. Poisoning
3. Fires/burns
4. Choking/suffocation,
5. Drowning/submersion.

These hazards don’t only affect children or older people, however a comprehensive study by the Home Safety Council found that home injuries cause 21 million yearly medical visits and almost 20,000 deaths, 2,000 of which are children.

But don’t be shocked. Most homeowners are not preventing injuries because they don’t know any better, not because they are lazy.

You can avoid these tragedies in your own home simply by being more conscientious in your evaluation of your surroundings and making a few simple adjustments if needed.

Let’s go room by room and see where the hazards may be…

Exploring the house for hidden hazards

Bedrooms and Bathrooms – Where you sleep and shower may seem like the safest place to be alone with your thoughts, in a quiet space but your bedroom and bathroom may harbor hidden hazards you are least expecting Here are some things to consider:

Slippery surfaces/non slip surfaces – In the bathroom, consider adding non slip surfaces to the tub and floor surrounding the tub/shower/sink. In the bedroom, look for potential slipping on rugs and runners or clothing left on the floor to keep slip hazards at bay.

Candles – Ambience is sweet but consider safety first with candles in bathrooms and bedrooms. Keep open flames away from flammable chemicals and fabrics and never leave open flames unattended.

Safety rails – Are handy in bathrooms and bedrooms around the toilet, bathtub and bed for getting safely up/down or in/out
Toys – Keeping toys cleared off of the floor and out of the tub after use is always a good idea to prevent trips and falls

Bathroom sharps – Keeping razors, scissors or other sharp objects safely stowed away is a good idea for safety’s sake.

Poison – Cleaning products as well as hygiene products found in the bathroom or bedroom can be harmful if accidentally ingested. Remove, contain and safely store anything that may be unintentionally or potentially harmful to children or pets.

Falls – Can be a potential hazard around bed and cribs. Put soft, protective surfaces under play equipment or furniture where accidental falls are a potential hazard.

Drowning – This is truly one of the most potential hazards in the bathroom area and drowning happens quickly. Ensure thorough monitoring of children and pets around the tub and toilet.

Kitchen, Pantry & Laundry – While these are the most common areas for healthy housework to be done, they are also common places for health and safety hazards. Look for potential safety issues in the following areas:

Carbon monoxide – Every home should have a carbon monoxide monitor installed wherever a source of natural gas is present. A CO2 alarm plugs into an electrical outlet or is installed like a smoke detector. This device will notify you if there is a harmful gas leak, which otherwise may be undetectable as it is odorless, highly toxic and potentially fatal.

Lint trap – The lint trap on your dryer is a potential fire hazard if it isn’t cleared away regularly. Ensure your family’s safety by emptying it after each use.

Lock up kitchen tools – Knives, scissors and other sharp kitchen accessories are dangerous for those who don’t know how to use them yet. Keep them safely out of reach.

Detergents, cleaners – Even though these are effective ways to keep our spaces fresh and sanitized, they can be poisonous if ingested or used inappropriately. Keep your detergents and cleaners safely out of reach of children and pets.

Burns – Another potential hazard is a burn from the stove. Getting burner covers is a great solution. Burner covers are available for ceramic, gas and electric stoves.

Stairs, Basements & Attics – These are the hidden areas of home and health hazards.

Stairs – The most common areas in the home for slips and falls are stairs. Check for irregular stair placement, install railings and place grip mats of carpet on the stairs for protection from slipping. Consider installing a light on the staircase and paint your bottom step a bright color to make it more visible. For outdoor stairs, use nonslip mats and salt in icy weather.

Fire Alarms – Install fire alarms in the attic, basement and stairwells of your home for added assurance of fire protection.

Pests – Pests such as rodents and insects tend to be found in the hidden areas of your home such as attics, basements, sheds and stairways. Regularly inspect these areas for yourself and hire a professional if needed. Preventing infestations before they happen will save you time and money.

Living Rooms and Sitting Rooms – The hazards of the most relaxing areas of your home may not be so obvious.

Air quality – Good indoor air quality can reduce allergies and asthma. One way to eliminate allergens is by choosing hardwood or laminate flooring over carpeting. Air-filtration systems and certain houseplants can also help to improve indoor air quality

Strangling – Check the blinds and drapes for potential strangling hazards. There may be a manufacturer suggestion to avoid strangling hazards.

Window rail safety – Putting window guards on windows could result in a 50% reduction in falls and 35% reduction in deaths.

Yards, Garages, Sheds – The working spaces of your yard have hidden hazards, too. Check out these hidden spaces:

Yard tools – Sharp tools are generally used for yard work so it makes sense to keep them safely and securely stored to misuse or injury.

Poisons/toxins – Toxic chemicals are generally found in these areas, keep them safely contained.

Always use a step stool or ladder for things out of reach – Make sure to use a sturdy step stool or ladder when getting things out of reach. Avoid balancing on furniture and fences, it can be dangerous!

Removal, Upgrade, and Prevention of Risks is the Key to Home Safety Success

Once you have identified the types of hazards in your home whether they are potential injuries, toxins or other damage hazards, you need to establish the best way to remove, replace or repair the issue.

You may want to evaluate if you can make the repairs yourself or if you need to hire an expert. Evaluate options if removal is not possible at all, or just partial

Lead paint and how to remove lead paint from your home – In the past, lead was used as an ingredient for paint. Now, sanding and scraping lead paint can be ingested and toxic. If your home was built before the 1970’s, there is a chance your home has lead paint. Check online to find out safe ways to remove it. It may be more convenient to hire a professional.

Asbestos and removing asbestos from your home – If your house was built before 1980, it’s likely that asbestos is present. Asbestos is a natural fiber found in insulation and drywall that has been known to cause cancer. Insulation, floor tiles, and textured ceiling tiles can be made with asbestos. If you do find asbestos, find a professional to safely remove it.

Keep Yourself and Your Home As Safe As Can Be

When you are buying or renting a home, it is important that the safety of yourself and your family is top of mind.

Evaluating and identifying health and safety hazards is extremely valuable and important when making your choice.

You may need to ask your landlord to make adjustments before you sign a lease, negotiate repairs before buying a property or simply update your existing home. Whatever you need to do, ensure you are covering the basics of the potential hazards throughout your home.

Originally posted in Porch.com

Inherent risk and control risk are two of the three parts of the audit risk model, which auditors use to determine the overall risk of an audit.

Audit risk is the danger that arises from incorrect company’s financial statements, despite auditors saying that they don’t contain any misstatements. Some examples of inappropriate auditors’ opinions include:

  • Presenting an unqualified audit report despite the qualification being reasonably justified
  • Providing a qualified audit opinion where the qualification isn’t necessary
  • Not giving attention to major issues in the audit report

Therefore, audit risk is the product of the different threats auditors may discover when they conduct audits. The purpose of audits is to cut down audit risks to an acceptable level.

Additionally, auditors have to evaluate the hazard level of each of the components of the audit risk for accuracy in the monetary statements. Audit risk may carry legal liability since investors and creditors depend on the financial statements when making decisions.

What is the Audit Risk Model?

The Audit Risk Model is a critical tool that editors use to determine an audit’s overall risk.

This approach of risk assessment takes into account three types of risks, namely:

  • Control risk
  • Inherent risk
  • Detection risk

Here are in-depth insights into each of these components.

Inherent Risk

Inherent risk refers to the hazard of material misstatement in the financial statements of a company. This happens when internal controls don’t get the consideration they should receive from auditors. It stems from the nature of trade or operations without implementing the rules that mitigate risk.

A company can’t successfully cope with a quickly changing business environment if it can’t manage inherent risk adequately.

Besides, a company’s inherent risk can increase if the firm records complex relations and activities. For example, a company that collects data from several subsidiaries to combine it engages in intricate work. The process could comprise a high level of inherent risk.

Another factor that gives rise to inherent risk is dealing with audits previously performed by other auditors. The reports from the audits could have been weak or prejudiced, which arises if auditors intentionally ignore material misstatements.

Lastly, inherent risk could arise from transactions from related entities. This is because the transactions bring the danger of an overstatement or understatement of the value of the assets involved in the financial deal.

Control Risk

Control risk happens because of material misstatement in financial statements. It’s a result of a lack of relevant internal controls to mitigate risk. It also occurs when the internal controls in place have malfunctioned. When a company lacks adequate internal controls to detect and prevent fraud and error, it sets itself up for control risk.

Factors that increase a company’s control risk include:

  • Lack of segregation of duties
  • Transactions not being verified
  • Approval of financial documents without a review by the management
  • A supplier selection process that isn’t transparent

The consequences of a significant control risk failure also lead to undocumented asset losses. The statements might indicate a profit while in the real sense, the company has incurred a loss.

An organization’s leadership is responsible for creating, implementing, and maintaining a reliable system of internal controls. However, it’s not always easy to have a reliable method to mitigate risk and prevent asset loss.

A stable long-term internal control system requires the management to alter the platform periodically to cater to ongoing business changes. Failure to review the procedures periodically will see them lose their effectiveness over time. The best practice is to check and upgrade the internal controls annually.

Examples of adequate internal controls include:

  • Periodic reviews of the payables details by the chief financial officer to determine the completeness of the list
  • Reviews of all invoices by the payables manager to see that they’re entered into the payable system
  • Reviews of the budget-to-actual reports by department heads
  • Analysis of the unprocessed invoices from all payables clerks by the payables manager

While inherent risks are independent of internal controls, control risk depends on the ability of the operation or design of a control system to eliminate the risk of a misstatement.

Detection Risk

This type of risk arises from an auditor’s failure to detect a material misstatement in financial statements. Using the audit risk model, an auditor can understand the relationship between detection risk and the other two types of audit risk. This creates an environment where the auditors can determine the acceptable level of detection risk.

However, it’s essential to note that it’s not possible to eliminate detection risk in totality. An auditor can only manipulate the risk by modifying these factors:

  • The competence and skill of the auditors that makeup the engagement team
  • The types of the audit procedures, for example, the degree of substantive procedures in relation to the internal control tests
  • The rigor of the audit procedures, including the sample sizes and length of the audit engagement
  • Quality control like the CPA’s firm system of reviews and quality control by qualified personnel

Final Thoughts

The auditing process has risks that arise from business processes and transactions. These risks include inherent, control, and detection risks, which form the Audit Risk Model concept. Auditors can reduce the likelihood of asset losses if they understand how each of these risks arises and how to mitigate them.

Breast exams are extremely useful in detecting cancer early. Clinical exams, breast self-exams (BSEs) and mammograms should be completed regularly so that it is possible to determine if there are changes in breast tissue, indicating breast cancer or other potentially harmful conditions.

Clinical Exams and Mammograms

The American Cancer Society recommends clinical breast exams every three years for women between 20 and 40, and annually for women 40 and older. Starting at age 45, healthy women should have yearly mammograms.

Performing Self-exams

In between clinical exams and mammograms, women should complete BSEs to become familiar with the look and feel of their breasts when healthy, so that changes can be detected as early as possible.

  • Lie down and place one arm behind your head.
  • Use the pads of your middle three fingers on the opposite hand to check your breast tissue in overlapping, dime-sized circular motions.
  • Use an up-and-down pattern starting at your underarm and moving all the way to the middle of your breastbone to feel for changes.
  • Standing with your hands on your hips, look in a mirror for changes in size, shape, contour or coloring of your breasts.

Breast Tissue Changes

Contact your doctor if you notice any of the following changes to your breast or nipple tissue while doing a BSE:

  • Lumps
  • Dimpling, red or scaly skin
  • Nipple discharge or pain

It is normal for breast tissue to change during menstrual cycles, pregnancy, menopause, or while taking birth control pills or other hormone therapy. However, if you notice changes at other times in your life, it is strongly suggested that you visit a doctor immediately.

More in-depth information on how to perform a BSE is available at ww5.komen.org. This website also provides a Breast Self-Awareness Interactive Tool that you can view. Or, check out this diagram on www.breastcancer.org, which illustrates how to perform a thorough self-exam

Each year, the seasonal flu has a marked impact on businesses and employers, causing increased absenteeism, decreased productivity and higher health care costs. The past few flu seasons have seen high hospitalization and mortality rates, which has public health experts fearing another deadly flu season.

Unfortunately, the 2020-21 flu season isn’t the only health crisis employers and employees have to address this year. The COVID-19 pandemic is still affecting the workforce, and the combination of another potentially bad flu season and the pandemic has public health experts worried.

As an employer, you are well-positioned to help keep your employees healthy and minimize the impact that influenza has on your business. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends strategies to help employers fight the flu and talk to employees about what a flu season during the pandemic looks like.

Educate Employees on the Flu vs. COVID-19

Unfortunately, because the flu and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, some of the symptoms are similar. For example, common flu symptoms include the sudden onset of fever, headache, fatigue, muscle aches, congestion, cough and sore throat. All of those are currently considered symptoms of COVID-19.

One of the difficult aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic is that the symptoms are wide-ranging and vary in severity. Some with COVID-19 may experience little to no symptoms, while others may be severely ill and require hospitalization.

Due to the similarity in symptoms between COVID-19 and the flu, it may be difficult to determine whether an employee has the flu or COVID-19 without being tested. As such, it’s important to encourage employees to stay home if they are sick.

Consider allowing employees to work from home, if they’re healthy enough to complete their work or while they wait for test results, and encouraging employees to take paid time off if they need to. If an employee tests positive for COVID-19 and needs to take time off to recover, they may be eligible for leave under a multitude of federal and state laws.

Preparing Your Workplace for Flu Season During the Pandemic

There are a variety of steps employers can take to protect employees and prepare for flu season—which may include steps you’ve taken in response to COVID-19—regardless of whether employees are in the office or working remotely.

Here are some strategies to consider:

  • Host an on-site, socially distanced vaccination clinic—One of the most important steps for preventing the flu is to get an annual flu vaccination. The CDC recommends that all people over the age of 6 months get a flu vaccine each year. Hosting an on-site flu vaccination clinic can help educate employees about the importance of vaccination and make it easier for them to get vaccinated.
  • Encourage employees to get the flu vaccine—If you choose not to or are unable to provide an on-site flu vaccination clinic, you can still emphasize the importance of vaccination to your employees and educate them about local opportunities to get vaccinated.
  • Disinfect and clean the office—Because the flu virus and the virus that causes COVID-19 can remain on surfaces long after they’ve been touched, it’s important that your business frequently cleans and disinfects the facility. Some best practices include:
    • Cleaning and disinfecting all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, keyboards, telephones, handrails and doorknobs.
    • Discouraging workers from using other workers’ phones, desks, offices, or other tools and equipment, when possible. If necessary, clean and disinfect them before and after use.
    • Providing disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces can be wiped down by employees before each use.
  • Implement and enforce social distancing protocols—Social distancing is the practice of deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness. Social distancing best practices for businesses can include:
    • Avoiding gatherings of 10 or more people
    • Instructing workers to maintain at least 6 feet of distance from other people
    • Hosting meetings virtually when possible
    • Limiting the number of people on the job site to essential personnel only
    • Leveraging work-from-home arrangements and staggered shifts when possible
    • Discouraging people from shaking hands
  • Employee safety training—Ensure that all employees understand how they can prevent the spread of COVID-19 and the flu, taking into account:
    • Respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene—Businesses should encourage good hygiene to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses like the flu and COVID-19. This can involve:
      • Providing tissues and no-touch disposal receptacles
      • Providing soap and water in the workplace
      • Placing hand sanitizers in multiple locations to encourage hand hygiene
      • Reminding employees to not touch their eyes, nose or mouth
      • Asking employees to wear a mask or face covering when social distancing is not possible
    • Staying home when sick—Encourage employees to err on the side of caution if they’re not feeling well, and stay home when they’re sick or are exhibiting common symptoms of COVID-19 or the flu.

These strategies may not be right for every organization. Depending on the nature of your business, you may need to implement additional prevention strategies. Contact The SIG Insurance Agencies to discuss your organization’s situation.

For More Information

The combination of COVID-19 and flu season could have a significant impact on your business this fall and winter. Contact The SIG Insurance Agencies and request employee educational materials regarding flu prevention, vaccination promotion and good hygiene to start protecting your business and employees today.

Protecting your business against different risks, including unexpected ones, is an essential part of the business. Natural disasters, fires, illnesses, and cyber-attacks can bring you operations to a standstill and cause you to feel hopeless. Without offices, power, internet service, or electronics, you may find yourself ultimately out of business. FEMA estimates that 40 to 60 percent of small businesses fail to reopen their doors after a disaster. Larger corporations may have an easier time due to access to resources. However, big or small, a disaster recovery plan goes a long way in ensuring business continuity. 

How To Create a Disaster Recovery Plan 

Your recovery plan depends on the type of disaster your business faces. Let’s explore some critical elements you should include in your plan. 

Insurance 

Business insurance is vital for the continuity of any business because it helps you cover the costs of recovering after a disaster. First, check your insurance policy to see what it covers and see if you need to upgrade it or get a separate cover for different risks. It’s essential to have policies that cover natural disasters, fires, and cyber-attacks, among other catastrophes. Keep a record off all property, both physical and intellectual, and take photos is necessary. Have your insurance agent note all items before agreeing on an appropriate cover for damages after a disaster. After a disaster, take pictures, records, and keep all receipts and appraisals to support your claim. 

Communication Plan 

Communication helps you manage stress levels, build trust, and minimize confusion among workers. The ideal communication plan should include all employee contacts to help you reach out after a disaster. Reassure the workers about their jobs and safety, and request that they keep in touch for further guidance. In your communication, ensure that you discuss: 

  • Timelines for reporting back to work
  • Duties after the disaster
  • Payments and wages 
  • Communication with clients about their projects 
  • Precautions against discussing the tragedy with external parties if necessary 

Emergency Response Plan 

When an emergency occurs, you need to know your next course of action. For example, when a fire starts, all workers must run to the exits and gather at an assembly point. An emergency response plan ensures that you and your employees know what to do. The first step should be to care for the health of each employee. Emergency supplies such as first aid kits, water, cash, food supplies, and emergency contacts are always essential for disasters. 

If no one is injured, your plan may entail different questions. Whom should you call when a cyberattack happens? Is there a designated formula for who gets called first, and who delivers the message to others? Once you create a guide, remember to assign roles to each worker and conduct training. 

Create a Business Continuity Plan 

After a disaster, it’s essential to have a plan that focuses on continuing business operations. This plan is known as a business continuity plan (BCP). The key difference between business continuity and disaster recovery is that your BCP swings into action immediately after a disaster or during the disaster. However, disaster recovery continues long after the incident to keep the business afloat until it returns to normalcy. A BCP usually includes: 

Business Impact Analysis (BIA): This is step happens before a disaster occurs. It helps you analyze various catastrophes and their impact on your operations. A BIA also enables you to estimate how long the effects last and how long it would take you to recover. Besides that, a BIA also helps you identify the legal and financial implications of any BCP program. Having an estimate of the costs beforehand helps you make arrangements before the disaster. 

Recovery Plan: After identifying the possible impacts of any disaster, the next step is finding possible ways to recover after a disaster. Recovery procedures help you mitigate the impact and swing back into action. For example, having data backups for all your information and records in separate servers or contracting third parties helps with recovery. You may also need plans for emergency power supply, computer and IT infrastructure, and office set up. 

Assigning Responsibilities: It’s crucial to have a plan that details each employee’s role in disaster recovery. With proper communication and role details, you can ensure that every worker helps your business achieve recovery objectives. Every worker should identify their role in creating work stations, setting up communications, recovering data, setting up secure information systems, contacting clients, and providing emergency relief, among other duties. 

Disaster Recovery for Physical Equipment: If you live in zones prone to water damage through floods and hurricanes, you should have a plan to protect your property before a disaster. Move all your computers, printers, and wiring from the floors and basements to higher areas. Alternatively, you can put them away for secure storage until the storm passes. Seal everything if you need to. 

Testing: No plan is complete without testing to check if the recovery procedures work or how long they take to implement. After testing, note the results and necessary updates. Testing should be frequent because some disasters change over time. Being prepared is the best way to stay afloat.

Written by Reciprocity Labs

Does your homeowners insurance cover water damage? Or maybe the better question is; does your homeowners insurance cover all kinds of water damage. For instance, if you wake up in the night to find that your basement has been flooded by a broken water heater; will the insurance cover the cost of repairing the damage?

What if the flood is the result of a rainstorm, will your insurance pay to replace the things you lost? This is a question many homeowners never ask but as Sterling Property Solutions warns, knowing the right answers will save you unnecessary headaches.

Water damage in your home is not always covered by the standard homeowners insurance. Yes, water damage is included as one of the calamities covered by the policy. But not every kind of water damage is covered; certain types of water damage are not included.

Most homeowners don’t realize this until they suffer an incident and the insurance company tells them it is not one of the things covered under the policy. What types of water-related issues are covered by standard homeowners insurance?

Why this is important

Water damage is the most common and most costly type of homeowners insurance claim. This is because the threat of water damage is ever present in a home, which makes knowing how to deal with the threat very important.

To succeed in a water damage claim you must know what the policy covers or does not cover. That knowledge will also help you protect your home from water-related issues that are not covered.

The standard homeowners insurance covers 16 perils, many of which can lead to water damage. To qualify for coverage under the policy, water damage has to meet the following conditions:

• The damage must be sudden and internal, such as from a burst pipe
• It cannot be gradual damage, such as from a leaking sink
• The damage must not be the result of neglect or due to improper maintenance
• The water must have never touched the ground outside, which means that floods are not covered
• The water must not come from outside the home

The types of water damage covered by homeowners insurance

Based on the above criteria, here are the types of water damage that are covered by your homeowners insurance.

Water damage from storms
If during a storm, the rain gets into the house through a broken window and damaged parts of the home or your belongings, homeowners insurance will cover that. However, if the damage was made possible by neglect – because you failed to replace a broken window – the policy will not cover the damage.

Appliances leaking
If your washing machine floods a room because a piece of clothing blocked the overflow hose, the policy will cover that sort of incident. However, if the flooding is determined to have occurred due to your own negligence, the policy will not cover it.

Pipe leaks

If a pipe that was in good condition suddenly develops a leak, the resulting water damage is included in the calamities covered by the policy. But leaks that result from poor maintenance will not be covered. Frozen pipes that burst is also covered as long as the pipe did not burst because you failed to keep the home properly heated.

Water damage while extinguishing a fire
If a fire breaks out in one part of the home and there is damage to the home from water used by firefighters or your sprinkler system, the insurance company will pay for the claims. However, if the fire started as a result of your own carelessness, the insurer will not pay for the damage.

Types of water damage not covered by homeowners insurance

Water damage not covered by the policy includes:

• Damage caused by maintenance problems
• Flooding that caused by storm, hurricane, or tsunami
• Water damage from intentional acts
• Water damage from earth movements such as earthquakes, mudslides, or landslides
• Water damage from a backed-up sewer or drain
• Water damaged caused by a swimming pool leak or similar structure
• Water damaged that is the consequence of seepage or leaks through the home’s foundation
• Water damage that happens because a sump pump or related equipment failed
• Also not covered is the cost of fixing or replacing the source of water damage to your home, such as a broken washing machine.

Now back to our question: does your homeowners insurance cover every kind of water damage? The answer is no. The homeowners insurance only covers water damage if the source of the water is inside the home and the damage is not due to the homeowners’ failure to maintain.

This means that to get the most out of your homeowners insurance, you must follow-up maintenance issues promptly and adequately. And for more comprehensive coverage, you should buy insurance policies that cover areas that are not covered by your homeowners insurance.

Having your finances, insurance and important papers in order before a natural disaster strikes can ease the stress of dealing with the damage and disruption caused by a hurricane, earthquake or other catastrophic event. But many Americans do not prepare.

According to a survey by The Weather Company, 40 percent of Americans have no plans on how to handle an emergency and only 16 percent have a preparedness kit ready in case of a severe weather event.

In addition to the lack of physical preparedness, there is a lack of financial readiness for emergencies. A recent Bankrate survey found that only four in 10 adults would cover the cost of an unplanned $1,000 expense using their savings. The rest would use a credit card, borrow from family or friends, take out a loan or forgo paying something else to come up with the money.

“The expression, ‘The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining’ speaks to the importance of developing a financial plan to deal with natural disasters before they take place rather than after the fact,” says Kurt J. Rossi, CEO of Independent Wealth Management in Wall, New Jersey.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which has hammered the U.S. economy and forced more than 30 million Americans to apply for unemployment benefits, is a grim reminder that disaster can come in many forms and hit anywhere. Regardless of where you live, here are steps you can take to prepare your finances for a natural disaster.

Build an emergency fund

A good strategy is to try to save $1,000 as soon as you can. Then, build up your savings to at least three to six months’ worth of your current expenses. A savings account with a high APY and low minimum balance requirements, such as those offered by American Express Bank or Varo Money, can help you reach these goals. Designate the account specifically for emergencies and sign up for automatic deposits.

You can also build up your emergency fund in a money market account. Like a savings account, a MMA is a safe place to park money and earn some interest.

Also consider creating a smaller cash fund in case power is cut off and bank services are not available. Create a cash fund to cover expenses for up to three days. Consider the fact that you could be without access to your bank account or even a paycheck for a while after a disaster.

Budget for repairs to strengthen your home

Do you live in an older home or one that’s not built or equipped to withstand natural disasters? You may need to make repairs and/or updates to better protect your home.

If you’re not sure about your home’s condition, consider getting both a home inspection and a roof inspection to identify vulnerabilities. Focus on making safety-related repairs and upgrades. Postpone aesthetic or superficial changes until you have the cash.

Review your insurance policies

Storms, fires, droughts and other natural disasters in the United States resulted in insured losses of $24.4 billion in 2019, per data from Property Claim Services.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, the largest property loss events of 2019 included: flooding across the Mississippi, Arkansas and Missouri River basins ($20 billion), Tropical Storm Imelda ($5 billion), California and Alaska wildfires($4.5 billion) and Hurricane Dorian ($1.6 billion in U.S. East Coast losses).

Check your insurance policies to make sure there aren’t gaps in disaster coverage. Most homeowner policies cover fire damage, for example, but don’t cover damage caused by floods or earthquakes.

“As you acquire assets and build your net worth over time, it is important to protect these assets,” Rossi says. “Property and casualty insurance is a critical part of proper planning. From reviewing home and auto insurance coverage to umbrella insurance and business coverage, understanding the extent of your insurance and their limitations is important before the unexpected occurs.”

Here are some key natural disaster and insurance facts you may want to consider before buying insurance:

Flood

  • Most homeowner insurance policies don’t cover flood insurance. You have to buy a separate policy.
  • You may be required to get flood insurance if you’re in a flood-prone area.
  • Forty one million Americans live in a 100-year flood zone, according to a 2018 report released by University of Bristol, U.K., and the Nature Conservancy. A 100-year flood is a flood event that has 1 chance in 100 (or 1 percent) of being equaled or exceeded in a given year.
  • You don’t have to live in a high-risk flood zone to be struck by disaster. About 25 percent of all flood insurance claims come from areas with low to moderate risk, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
  • The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) generally has a 30-day waiting period for flood insurance to take effect to prevent people from buying it at the last minute, when flood danger is imminent. Buy coverage well before hurricane season begins.

Earthquake

  • Earthquake insurance isn’t normally included in homeowner policies and isn’t required by law.
  • You’ll need to add a policy endorsement or separate policy if you decide you need earthquake insurance.
  • Consider getting earthquake insurance if you live in an area prone to seismic activity.
  • Earthquake insurance covers any damage from an earthquake (except fire).

Wind

  • Homeowners insurance typically covers wind damage, but there are some exceptions.
  • Some states have homeowners insurance policies that won’t pay for windstorm damage. If your policy doesn’t cover windstorm damage, it likely won’t cover damage from a tornado or hurricane.
  • If you live in one of those states and want coverage, buy a separate windstorm insurance policy.

Wildfire

  • Damage from wildfire or fire is usually covered in a homeowners policy. However, coverage may vary by location.
  • You might find that some insurers do not sell homeowners policies in areas where wildfires are common.
  • Dwelling, personal property, additional living expenses and landscaping coverage are typically covered by your homeowners insurance policy. Check your individual policy for details.

Hurricane

  • Most homeowners in hurricane-prone areas are required to have hurricane insurance.
  • Homeowners insurance policies in some hurricane-prone states will partially or completely exclude wind and flood-related damages.
  • You may find that if your policy does cover wind damage, it might include a separate hurricane deductible that is higher than your regular deductible.

Independent Wealth Management’s Rossi says it’s common for policyholders to cut corners and opt for cheaper insurance that leaves them with gaps in coverage. Consider speaking to a specialist in this area to review your coverage. “Be sure to make an accurate apple-to-apple comparison of coverage, deductibles and exclusions before changing providers,” he says. “Remember, cash reserves alone will most likely be unable to cover sizable losses that can be realized in a natural disaster.”

Create an emergency document kit

Figure out what paperwork and documents you might need in the event you have little time to get organized, need to flee or are unable to stay in your home.

Get a waterproof and fireproof box to store copies of important documents you might need after a natural disaster. FEMA suggests storing electronic copies of important documents in a password-protected format on a removable flash drive or external hard drive.

Make sure you copy and safe keep these documents in case of emergency:

  • Homeowners insurance policies
  • Health insurance policy and information
  • Deeds and recorded real estate documents, including appraisals from the title company
  • Mortgage information from your lender
  • Copy of your lease from your landlord
  • Living wills and advance directives from your attorney
  • Information on all investment and financial accounts from your bank or investment company
  • Driver’s license information and auto title from the secretary of your state or the Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Birth certificate and Social Security card from Vital Statistics and the Social Security Administration
  • Other important documents you may need at some point, such as tax returns, contracts, alimony or divorce decrees

Take a look at FEMA’s Emergency Financial First Aid Kit, which also includes a printable checklist of all the important documents to gather for your emergency box. Consider storing all original copies of important documents in a safety-deposit box at a bank or a secure offsite storage facility.

Bottom line

It’s important to be financially prepared if disaster strikes and you find yourself facing steep, unexpected costs. Budget for repairs to fortify your home against a natural disaster.

Review your insurance policies and whether you have the right coverage for your needs. Create an emergency document kit for easy, immediate access to your most important papers after a disaster.

It’s critically important to thoroughly document your losses after a disaster.

“Remember, you must be able to prove and substantiate the fair market value of your property before and after the loss using appraisals, receipts and any additional supporting documentation,” Rossi says. “Also, consider taking numerous pictures as evidence for your losses before the loss occurs. Bottom line: The more evidence supporting the valuation of your assets and damage incurred, the better.”

Learn more: 

Wells, Libby. “Preparing Your Finances For Disaster.” Bankrate, Bankrate.com, 18 May 2020, www.bankrate.com/banking/savings/how-to-prepare-your-finances-for-a-natural-disaster/.

 

In response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization have recommended that individuals who may have been exposed to the disease self-quarantine at home for 14 days. In addition, public health officials are recommending that healthy individuals practice social distancing, staying at home to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Following the advice of public health officials can help stop the spread of COVID-19, but if you don’t take proper precautions, your mental well-being could suffer while you’re quarantining.

If you’re self-quarantining or practicing social distancing, keep the following tips in mind to maintain your mental well-being.

Maintain a Routine
One of the best things that you can do to preserve your mental well-being is to stick to a routine. For example, if you’re used to going to the gym before work, try to wake up early and get an at-home workout in before you go to work or start your workday from home. Maintaining as much normalcy as possible with your daily routine can help keep your mood as lifted as possible, and prevent boredom and distress from taking over.

If you have children that will be at home now, it’s also important to create a routine for them. Whether they are practicing virtual learning with their schools or if they will just be home, you should implement a structured schedule for them so they know what your expectations are. Try to limit as much screen time as possible and incorporate learning activities throughout the day.

Get a Good Night’s Sleep
This suggestion goes hand-in-hand with sticking to a routine. While you’re at home, it can be easy to go to bed or sleep in later than you typically would. Breaking your normal sleep routine can have negative effects on your overall mental well-being, so you should try to stick to your typical schedule as much as possible.

Spend Time Outside
Unless health officials give you explicit instructions to stay in your home no matter what, try to get outside periodically throughout the day. This could involve going out in your backyard or taking a walk around the block, but shouldn’t include going to a park or other areas where large groups of people may be.

Being outside also helps to promote higher vitamin D levels, a vitamin the body makes when skin is directly exposed to the sun. Many people are deficient in vitamin D, so exercising outside can be a great way to correct that.

Leverage the Power of Technology
When in quarantine or self-isolation, it can be easy to feel lonely. Fortunately, advancements in technology have made it easy to connect with others without having to physically be in contact with them. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recommends reaching out to loved ones with technology to reduce feelings of loneliness and anxiety, and to supplement your social life while you’re quarantining or social distancing. If you’re feeling down, use video calling technology or social media to get in touch with friends and family.

Don’t Obsess Over the News
It can be easy to become overwhelmed by watching the news and reviewing the updates of the COVID-19 situation. While it’s important to be informed of the situation, you should not obsess over the news. For example, instead of monitoring the news all day from home, consider checking for updates once in the morning and once at night.

Practice Positivity and Gratitude
Taking five minutes a day to write down the things that you are grateful for has been proven to lower stress levels and can help you change your mindset from negative to positive. While you’re quarantining or social distancing, it’s important to build time into your routine to practice positivity or express gratitude to change your mindset on your situation and boost your mood.

Summary
Your mental well-being plays a huge role in your overall health and well-being, and it should be prioritized. These six suggestions may help you maintain your mental well-being during a quarantine, but shouldn’t be considered as medical advice.

If you have concerns about your mental well-being while you’re in quarantine, please contact your mental health professional or use SAMHSA’s National Helpline by calling 800-662-HELP (4357).

Speak with The SIG Insurance Agencies for more information on staying healthy. For complimentary health insurance quotes please visit the link or call (866) 346-3744.

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