All posts by April Woodcock

winter preparation

Winter Preparation: How to Prepare your Home for Winter

Preparation is the key to having a wonderful winter and lessening your chances of expensive damage to your home. Preparing  for the upcoming months may seem troubling. If you feel overwhelmed at the thought of preparing your home for winter, here are a few tips on how and what to look for, to simplify the winterization process. 

Plumbing problems

Frozen and burst pipes are one of the main dangers of a cold winter and can cost up to $5,000 to repair and fix the damage. To prevent plumbing problems, you need to drain all outdoor faucets (like garden hoses and in-ground sprinklers) and insulate any exposed pipes. If you plan to go on vacation, don’t forget that you need to leave the heat on to keep your pipes from freezing. You should also let your faucets drip during a cold snap as an additional safeguard against freezing.

Drafts

A cold winter draft isn’t just uncomfortable, it raises your heating bill and can even cause frozen pipes. Check weather stripping around windows, doors and vents to see what might need to be replaced. If you see any holes or gaps around the outside of your house, you can fill them in with caulk.

Heating system

Get your furnace thoroughly checked by an HVAC professional who will change your filter. If you have a fireplace, have your chimney inspected and cleaned before you start using it for cozy winter nights. You don’t want to wait for a cold night before you make sure you have a way to stay warm.

Roof and gutters

Gutters clogged with fall leaves can quickly freeze up and fail to drain off melted snow and ice. It is important to make sure that your gutters are clean before the chance of snow and ice so that all moisture drains away from your home and doesn’t pool near your foundation. While you are at it, have a professional check your roof for ice dams. Ice dams are areas on your roof where heat from your home melts ice unevenly. These areas won’t allow snow and ice to drain off properly, which can weaken your roof.

Our team wishes you a safe and joyous winter season.  On that note, please remember if you have any questions regarding your Home Owners Insurance Policy as winter moves in, do not hesitate to reach out to the Northeast – Metro West Insurance Team.

insurance scams

How to Avoid Insurance Scams

These days, it seems like scams are more prevalent than ever. Most of us have become acutely aware of people online trying to get our money through shady practices, but the fact is that they can happen anywhere. Thus, it’s imperative that you stay vigilant at all times and learn the various ways that insurance scams can occur.

Insurance scams are especially troubling because they can take advantage of you relatively easily. In most cases, if you’re not aware of the potential for fraud, you could get duped without knowing it.

So, with that in mind, we want to help you learn to avoid insurance scams. Knowing what to do in these situations will ensure that you don’t become another victim.

Types of Insurance Scams

The fact is that shady people can take advantage of you and your insurance in a multitude of ways. Some of the most common methods can be-

Fake Insurance Companies – these scammers get you to buy insurance through them, only to find out that they don’t provide the services they promised.

Intentional Damage or Injury – usually, this type of fraud occurs with your car. Because all states require drivers to carry some insurance, scammers target them all the time. In this case, they will cause collisions intentionally, either with another vehicle or as a pedestrian.

Inflated Prices – whether it’s after a natural disaster or it’s your mechanic inflating the cost of your repair bill, scammers will try to get more money from you or your insurance company.

How to Avoid These Scams

Knowing about the various ways that people will try and take your money is a significant step toward avoiding them. However, here are some other tips to make sure that you don’t get duped.

Do Your Homework
If insurance representatives or salespeople contact you, don’t take their word at face value. Thankfully, it’s easy to look up illegitimate businesses online, which you can even do from your phone.

Don’t Agree to Anything if You Don’t Understand It
If you’re going to be signing off on anything, you have to make sure that you know what’s going on. With many insurance scams, the scammers will be pushy or aggressive and try to get you to either pay immediately or provide your information before you have a chance to figure out what’s going on. If this happens to you, make sure to walk away before agreeing to anything they say.

If It’s Too Good to Be True, It Probably Is
This adage is valid when talking about insurance scams. For example, if an insurance company comes to you with a substantially lower rate, you want to question whether it’s really a good deal. In many cases, filing a claim is next to impossible, which means you have to pay out of pocket if something does happen.

Bottom Line – Be Cautious
Insurance scams are out there, but that doesn’t mean you have to be a victim. Keep a vigilant eye at all times, and don’t be afraid to say no to scammers. They thrive on misinformation and persistence, so don’t let them get your hard-earned money.

If you have any questions regarding your coverage always feel free to reach out to us at Northeast – Metro West Insurance.
fall home maintenance checklist

Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

Fall is such a wonderful time of the  year. A welcome reprieve from the heat of summer, fall is a good time to prepare for the cold winter ahead. A fall home maintenance checklist is essential if you want to be prepared for winter and avoid costly and unexpected accidents or breakdowns in your home. What’s on your checklist? There are the obvious things like making sure your furnace runs or insulating outdoor spigots, but what about less obvious things like your humidifier or gutters? Check out this handy fall home maintenance checklist to keep your home in order:

Furnace

Schedule a professional tune-up of your furnace during the fall to address any issues that may have developed over the summer. Some common issues that homeowners face are noisy belts and inconsistencies in heating. These could be signs of more serious issues that a professional HVAC company can diagnose and fix. Also, don’t forget to change your air filters. Dirty filters will put more strain on your furnace plus circulate dust into your home causing allergies and sickness.

Gutters

Snow and ice will really do a number on gutters, especially if they are still full of summer and fall leaves. Overflowing gutters can cause damage to your home’s foundation by dumping water too close to the house. Take advantage of the cool, but not too cold, fall weather to check over your gutters. Make sure they are cleaned from all debris and are rust-free. Install mesh guards to keep any lingering leaves from building up again.

Freezing water

Freezing water can burst pipes and deepen cracks in your driveway. Take a two-fold approach against freezing water: first, insulate outdoor spigots using styrofoam caps that you can buy at any home store. Drain the lines leading to the outdoor spigots first to prevent any pipes bursting. Secondly, take a walk and look for any small cracks in your driveways and paths. Repair small cracks before they get bigger and pose a trip and fall threat to you and your guests.           

Humidifier

Dry air during the winter makes hardwood floors and furniture more susceptible to cracking. Give your humidifier a thorough check out before cold temperatures arrive. Keeping your humidity at an appropriate level (between 40 and 50 percent) will keep you healthier during the winter months as well. Your humidifier will make your home feel more comfortable and even help you to spend less money on heating.

If you have any questions about your homes insurance policy, please reach out to the Northeast – Metro West Team by clicking here.

fireplace safety

Top Fireplace Safety Tips

There are so many things to enjoy as the weather gets cooler and the leaves start falling. One of those simple pleasures is using your fireplace on a cold night. Something you might not think about, however, is fireplace safety. Any other time of the year, it might blend into the walls in your house, so it’s easy to forget. The truth is, misuse and neglect can lead to dangerous consequences. So before you get cozy, make sure to follow our tips for being safe this fall and winter.

Check the Chimney

Anything that is constantly, or even seasonally, in use needs a cleaning. Your chimney is no different. A buildup of highly flammable material will occur if you don’t take care of it. As old-fashioned as it sounds, chimney sweeps still exist, and you should definitely hire one to clean it. Once a year should be sufficient.

How old is your chimney? Check out its walls to make sure no loose pieces are coming apart from the foundation. Any blockage and structural issues require attention, sometimes from professionals.

When lighting a fire, open the flue so smoke can properly move out of the chimney. This keeps smoke and ash from redirecting into the house, especially during windy weather. Having the flue closed at all other times prevents animals or other debris from getting inside.

Inspect the Firewood You Use

The type of wood used is vital for fireplace safety. Dry wood, specially seasoned, is the best to burn. Seasoned wood is dried or aged over a period of time. The opposite of that is green wood, wood that was recently cut. Greenwood and wet wood will produce more residue and smoke. Burn the wood in smaller pieces if you want a faster burn. Of course, once the fire is out, clean any ash and wood left behind.

Be Responsible

When you want to be completely sure, use common sense to confirm all precautions are taken. Think about possible scenarios and ask yourself some questions to see if you are prepared. Are the batteries in your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detectors new or working? Is someone constantly tending to or watching the fireplace? Is there any decor or items near the fireplace that are flammable or at risk of damage? Are you using a protective screen? Do you have a fire extinguisher? When you are alert and responsible, fireplace safety will be easy.

If you have any questions about your Homeowners or Rental Insurance Policy be sure to give us a call.

Northeast – Metro West Insurance Agency
(800) 443 7007

insurance for millennials

3 Tips for Insurance for Millennials

Millennials can’t seem to get a fair shake these days. It seems like everyone wants to blame them for one thing or another. In reality, though, millennials are just like any other generation out there: working, paying bills and trying to find insurance. But finding just the right insurance can be difficult, if you don’t know what you’re looking for. How can you find the right insurance for millennials? Here are some tips to help you sort it all out:

1) Audit All The Items You Need Insurance For

Insurance carriers may offer discounts for when you are insuring multiple items. By knowing all your insurance needs your agent can review which carriers are going to offer you the best insurance options to match your needs. In addition, this will help with your monthly bill paying tasks. It is much more convenient to review statements from one carrier if possible. 

2) Talk With Your Agent About Possible Discounts

At Metro-West Northeast Insurance Agency are agents are always a phone call away. This allows you to review potential savings. For example some carriers offer discounts for items like Security Systems, AAA Memberships, and Auto Payment Options. Keeping your agent in the loop helps them understand your needs and provide the best over all value.

3) Understand What Your Deductibles Are

When you are speaking with your agent discuss with him rates vs deductibles. An agent can better asses your insurance needs if he understands what you are prepared for should a claim need to be filed. Then after you have reviewed this with your agent place some funds into a separate account to have on hand in case a file is claimed. Depending on your personal preferences you may rather have a smaller monthly insurance rate that has a larger deductible because you are prepared for the deductible if need be. On the other hand, you may rather pay a few dollars more monthly and have a smaller deductible.

Your relationship with your agent is really the key to having the best insurance that suits your needs. Metro-West Northeast Insurance Agents take pride in understanding their clients needs. If by chance you feel your current agent is not up to speed on your current needs give them a call.

If you are not insured with an agent from Metro-West Northeast Insurance Agency please reach out and our team will provide a free assessment.