When is Wedding Insurance Actually Used?

This summer, while your Facebook feed fills with images of bridal showers and weddings of friends or strangers, many soon to be brides and grooms are busy preparing for (and possibly stressing about) their special day.

If you are currently planning a wedding,  we strongly encourage purchasing wedding insurance. Like with all insurance, it’s peace of mind in “what if” situations. As a recent newlywed, I’m here to tell you first hand why wedding insurance is actually important.

There are two main reasons.

  • Your venue says so. Our venue didn’t give us an option. We needed specific liability limits and to list the venue as an additional insured on the policy.
  • Protect yourself and your family against something going wrong. As with any other day, you can’t assume that your wedding day will go perfectly.

So what are you protecting against?

Injured guests

No one will get injured, right? Well, not necessarily. We were lucky that no one was injured, especially considering the MANY ways people could have been hurt. For instance:

  •  A friend dropped her drink on the dance floor, causing the drink to spill and the glass to break. Tons of us were dancing barefoot. Someone could have slipped or stabbed their foot (or worse) on a piece of glass
  • Both my parents almost fell down the stairs. And no, my parents weren’t drinking. The stairs to the bridal suite had poor lighting, which is a recipe for disaster when the women are trying to walk up or down the stairs in high heels and a long gown. No guests wandered up there during our wedding, but if they had and they tripped, we would have an injured and angry friend or relative on our hands, and possibly a medical bill.
  • We had at least 9 candles on each table. Anyone could have burned themselves or scorched their tie or their hair if they reached in or leaned over incorrectly, even though we followed proper fire protocol for candles. I was recently at a wedding where a napkin accidentally ended up on top of a candle. That could have ended badly, but we noticed and moved the napkin.
  • The train of my dress kept falling out of its bustle, and I almost tripped quite a few nice people who were trying not to step on my dress. I actually almost tripped on my own dress during our first dance.
  • At one point, my heel accidentally lodged itself in the wood plank on the patio. Anyone could have done the same and fallen in their attempt to remove their shoe. Ouch

No show vendors

One of our vendors got stuck behind a terrible car accident and was late. It didn’t end up affecting the day, but what if one of our vendors couldn’t show up? We’ve already paid a hefty deposit, and they won’t give us the money back? Or, what if the caterer can’t make it, and you have to find a new one at the very last minute? Wedding insurance can help cover a portion of the cost of the original contract price.

Cancellation or postponement of the wedding

What would happen to your deposits if the event is cancelled or postponed because the venue goes out of business, certain family members fall ill, or the bride or groom is suddenly called to duty? Your wedding insurance can reimburse you for the deposits you now lost, so you can focus on what’s important.

Photography and Video

If the photographer is a no-show or if they lose all your photographs, your wedding insurance can pay for the cost to get your bridal party together again to re-take the photos you missed out on.

Bride and Groom Attire

You found the perfect dress or suit and now it was lost or damaged (but not your fault)? Insurance can help you repair or replace it. This is especially important for couples having a destination wedding.  Airlines have been known to displace luggage in the past.

Your wedding day should be a day full of happiness, and a wedding insurance policy can help ensure that it if anything goes wrong, you are covered. With a premium as low as $200, it’s definitely worth it.

*Disclaimer: Read your wedding insurance policy thoroughly to check coverages. Each policy may be different and may not include the specifics mentioned above.

Protect Your Home From Wildfires

There may be nothing you can do to prevent a wildfire near your home. However, if you live in an area where wildfires pose a threat to your home, there are steps you can take to protect your home. You can also take the same steps to protect your home from embers from a nearby house fire.

For Your Home

  1. When choosing a home in a high risk area, look for a home and neighborhood with several exit routes. These will come in handy if one of your routes is blocked.
  2. Make sure your roof is made of non flammable materials (wood shingles are flammable). Instead use Class A non combustible materials.
  3. If you have a barrel tile roof, you can use grout to seal open edges. This prevents any embers from making their way into your home.
  4. Windows can break from just the heat of a wildfire. To protect your windows, use tempered glass or multilayered glazed panels in all exterior windows, glass docks, and sky lights. Another option is to “install solid, exterior shutters.”
  5. Any siding materials used in your home should be fire resistant.
  6. The best exterior walls in a high fire area are stucco, stove, or brick.
  7. Spark arrestor should be installed in the chimney, while one-quarter inch non combustible screening can be added to add vent or eave openings.
  8. Install properly working smoke detectors and fire extinguishers
  9. Maintain your irrigation system.
  10. Your address should be visible from the street.
  11. Fire sprinklers mounted on the home can protect the roof, walls, and windows of your home.
  12. Covering vents with wire mesh will help keep out debris that has caught on fire.

For Your Yard

  1. Try to make a 100 yard wide safe zone around your house. Use fire resistant plans if possible. Live on a hill? Since fire spreads more quickly uphill, expand the zone on the downhill side of your house.
  2. Properly prune all trees and shrubs, and remove any dead plant materials from your property. Remove any tree branches that are not higher than 6 feet from the ground.
  3. Help bar wind-driven burning materials from reaching your home by staggering trees.
  4. Keep flammable items such as firewood, picnic tables, and boats at least 50 feet from the home. Propane tanks and other flammable chemicals should be at least 100 feet from the home, and if possible, kept in a fire rated safety storage locker.
  5. Wood fencing should not be connected to your home.
  6. Regularly clean roof surfaces and gutters.

For Your Family:

  1. Teach any adults how to use the fire extinguisher and how to shut off utilities. Use your judgment to determine if you should teach any children and teenagers.
  2. Create a survival kit and plan.

 

Sources: http://www.mercuryinsurance.com/tips/wildfire-preparedness.html; https://www.alliedinsurance.com/home-wildfire-protection.jsp; https://www.travelers.com/prepare-prevent/mother-nature/wildfire-safety/home-protection.aspx; https://www.travelers.com/business-insurance/risk-control/protecting-your-business/Docs/Wildfires-Planning-Ahead-296.aspx

Wildfire Evacuation Tips

Wildfires can spark and spread at a moment’s notice. If you are in a high risk area, you may only have a few seconds to grab your family and get out the door. However, there are preparations you can make for a smooth escape. Although it is difficult to leave your home in danger, your family’s safety is most important, so if you are asked to evacuate, please do so immediately.

What Can I do to prepare my family for evacuation

  1. Prepare an evacuation plan, including a checklist of what to do and what to take. It helps if you already have a survival kit ready. Your disaster survival kit would be a great start! Hopefully you also have a kit in your car.
  2. Evacuation centers are always set up, but if you have a family member or friend you can stay with, that might be preferable. Make plans ahead of time so you and your family knows where to go.
  3. Your evacuation plan should include a scenario in which your family is not all together, as well as if no one is home and you have enough notice to get your pets. Where will you meet? Who will pick up the kids and who will pick up the pets? Will a neighbor grab your pets for you?
  4. Make sure your car has gas. You don’t want to get stuck because your car ran out of gas. A great rule is to never allow your gas tank to go below 1/4 full.
  5. Round up all your pets and family members and stay in one room together. This makes it easier to quickly leave the house.
  6. Park the car facing the evacuation route.
  7. If you are being evacuated, you may not have time to grab your whole survival kit but according to evacuees surveyed by the American Red Cross, the following items are must haves for evacuating a wildfire (we added a few of our own too):
    -Medications for family AND pets
    -Cash in small bills & coins; credit cards and ID- Comfortable clothing                            (think sweats and sturdy shoes)
    -Personal Items (cell phones and chargers, family pictures, tablet/laptop                      with chargers, your bed pillow, favorite books, something for kids to play with if you have young children)
    -Snack Food
    -Blankets
    -Insurance paperwork and contact info; other important personal paperwork.               Travelers Insurance suggested putting all important personal paperwork on a flash drive that you can easily grab. It is also suggested that important paperwork be stored in a fire resistant safe or in a safety deposit box at another location

What should I do once I am evacuated?

  1. Turn off gas and pilot lights
  2. Turn on a light in every room (for increased visibility)
  3. Move any combustible patio furniture inside the home
  4. Move flammable furniture away from windows and glass doors
  5. Connect garden hoses to outside faucets
  6. Hose down your roof and the outside of your home. Preferably for 15 minutes.
  7. Lock your home
  8. Follow the designated evacuation route
  9. Notify an out of area family member or friend that you have been evacuated and tell them where you will be.

Don’t let the rain win.

imagesCASIGQR2California has finally been hit with the rain El Nino has been threatening to deliver. While this can mean cozy movie nights at home, it can also cause stress for those of us who venture outside. Driving anywhere in LA is already a challenge, and the rain makes it so much worse. And for those of us who live in an area prone to flooding or mudslides, the rain can be downright scary.

To help ease any anxiety or stress related to rain, we’ve put together a list of  safety precautions you can take while driving, as well as some preparations you can make to your home.

For your car:

  1. Give yourself extra time to get to your destination. Driving 80 mph in the rain is dangerous, and the rain causes more car accidents, so your commute may be delayed.
  2. Slow down. The wet roads cause tires to lose traction.
  3. Avoid standing water on the road. Driving through puddles causes water to splash up and block visibility. It can also cause you to hydroplane, and very few drivers can control their car while it’s hydroplaning (this is not a challenge, so please don’t try it).
  4. Play follow the leader. The car in front of you will have already displaced the water covering the road, so it’s safer to drive IN their tracks.
  5. But keep your distance. Leave plenty of room ahead of you, and brake early (with less force) to leave plenty of room behind you. Look around for other cars that may not be driving as safely as you, and get far away from them.
  6. Pay extra attention. Keep your eyes on the road, stay off cruise control (it can cause you to accelerate if your car is hydroplaning), and keep distractions to a minimum. If you need to eat, drink, make a call, or do your makeup, pull over to a safe area or do it at your destination.
  7. Use your car to your advantage. Windshield wipers and defroster buttons are our friends. Remember, cruise control is not.
  8. Hydroplaning? If you hydroplane, DO NOT brake or turn the wheel quickly. Instead, take your foot off the gas and keep the wheel straight until your car has calmed down. If you must brake, do so gently.

*Driving tips courtesy of one of our affiliated companies, Mercury Insurance. (http://www.mercuryinsurance.com/tips/driving-in-the-rain-safety-tips.html)

For the home:

  1. Storms cause power outages. Stock up on batteries, pull out those flashlights and candles, and charge your phones/iPads/tablets. Setting a back up alarm on a battery operated device will ensure you wake up for work or school if the power does go out. Please be careful with candles, and do not fall asleep with any lit candles.
  2. Do you live in an easily flooded area? Placing sand bags outside your home will help keep the rain water outside. Only go outside or get in your car if it’s safe to do so. If possible, go to higher ground, which includes a second story of your home. For more flood protection tips, click here.
  3. Listen to evacuation orders. If a member of the police or fire department asks or orders you to evacuate, it’s important to listen. After all, they are following the storm and their goal is to save lives and homes.
  4. Stay inside. Although playing in the rain has its perks, make sure to go inside at the first sign of thunder. Lightening may follow, and we hear being struck by lightning is not pleasant.
  5. Speaking of thunder and lightning…Traveler’s Insurance has some detailed advice on what to do in a thunder and lightning storm. Check them out here.
  6. Review your home insurance policy. Are you covered in case of a flood? Does your policy cover water damage for the rain? Your insurance professional should be able to answer these questions and more to make sure you are properly covered.

Stay dry!

Riding Out a Heat Wave

ScreenshotI’m avoiding leaving the office. Why would I do this on a Friday evening? Well, once I step outside, I’ll instantly be hit with 101 degrees of hot air.

We are in the midst of a heat wave, with some predictions stating that temperatures around Los Angeles and its surrounding areas will reach anywhere from 91 to 103 degrees. We’ve dealt with hot weather before, but a quick recap on the do’s and don’t of hot weather can’t hurt!

  1. Stay very hydrated with lots of water and other cold beverages, like fruit juice or sports beverages (only drink these drinks if you won’t have any bad reactions). Give your pets water, too!
  2. Do not leave children (or adults, for that matter) or pets in your cars. It’s TOO HOT. If you need proof,  google “NFL player locks himself in hot car.”
  3. Try cutting back on electricity usage during sunlight hours. This lowers the likelihood of power outages.
  4. Loose clothes and sunscreen may make the heat more bearable for some people.
  5. If you’re spending some time in a cool pool, be safe! Don’t forget to make sure the liability insurance for your home is up to date before inviting people over to swim.
  6. Do not ignore the signs of heat stroke: body temperature above 103 degrees, unconsciousness, dizziness, nausea, confusion, skin that is red, hot, and dry, rapid and strong pulse, and a throbbing headache.
  7. And don’t forget the signs of heat exhaustion: heavy sweating, muscle cramps, weakness, headache, nausea or vomiting, paleness, tiredness, and dizziness.
  8. Do be on alert if you live in a wildfire prone area. High temperatures and our current drought are not a good combination. Check our www.readyforwildfire.org for some great resources, including prevention steps, a family communication plan, an evacuation guide, and more.

Whatever you and your family plan to do this weekend, we hope you stay cool!

*http://www.caloes.ca.gov/ICESite/Pages/Summer-Heat-Resources.aspx

*Photo is of our writer’s phone.

Ward off a thief at the beach

Two summers ago, while staying at a resort in Maui, my bag was almost stolen at the pool. I was about five feet from the bag, and assumed it would be safe. Two non-guests had wandered into the resort, and were about to steal my bag before a friendly guest stopped them. I had more than just my room card and sunscreen in the bag and would have been very upset if my wallet, phone, camera, and iPad were stolen (I’m a bit of an over-packer).

I was lucky, but the situation could have turned out differently. To make sure your belongings aren’t stolen while you are at a public pool or the beach, try one or more of these suggestions.

  1. Don’t bring everything with you (unless you will be staying with your belongings the entire time). Try to stick with the essentials. You don’t need your whole wallet, expensive camera, or tablets (instead use paper books and magazines).
  2. Don’t leave items unattended. If possible, try to go with a group so that at least one person stays behind to watch over everyone’s belongings. You can also ask someone lounging nearby to look after your belongings, but this isn’t as safe as someone you know.
  3. Grab a waterproof pouch to keep your room key, credit card, small amount of cash, or whatever small items you bring safe from water and on you at all times. Test it out first, especially if you’ll be putting your phone in the pouch.
  4. If you’re at a hotel, you can try leaving your room key at the front desk and charge any food or drink to your room. This eliminates the need for credit cards or cash.
  5. At a public pool (or some beaches) try putting your belongings in a locker.
  6. If you leave anything valuable behind in your hotel room, putting it in the safe will be the safest place. Don’t leave valuables out in the open in your hotel room or in your car.

Have any other ideas that we haven’t already thought of? Let us know!

How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

earthThis Earth Day, we want to review some small steps that will help sustain our planet for it’s current inhabitants and future generations.

Here are a few tips from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help our beautiful home. Some may seem obvious, but these are great reminders!

1.Try not to waste water. Letting the water run while we brush our teeth, taking unnaturally long showers, and running the dishwasher for just a few plates are just a few habits many of us have that waste water. If we just save a bit of water each day, we are helping preserve our water supply.

2. Drive Less. Instead of driving your car everywhere, why not carpool, take public transportation, bike, or walk? Occasionally swapping our car for a walk to the store or carpooling to an event will help cut down on the amount of pollution filling our air. According to the EPA, you can reduce greenhouse omissions by 16,000 pounds a year if you leave your car at home just twice a week.

3. Save electricity when you can. Is it necessary to leave a light or TV on when you are not using the room? Do you need to leave appliances plugged in while you are out of town for a week? Unplugging – even if just once in a while – will help save electricity. You can also replace light bulbs and electronics with energy saving versions. Not only will you save on your electric bill, but the planet will thank you as well.

4. Recycle. We all know paper, plastics, and glass can be recycled, and hopefully we are all separating our recycling from our trash. But, did you know you can also recycle old electronics? Find a local place to e-recycle, and help prevent hazardous substances from polluting our planet.

5. Reuse. A lot of what we want to throw away can be reused into something helpful or adorable. Get in touch with your creative side and make an art project for your kids or great decoration for your house.

Bonus Tip:  We’ve noticed many companies offering to send their monthly bills via email, and more insurance companies are now offering paperless options, as well. If you like to pay your bills online, you can click through the email to pay, saving you time.

Check our http://www.epa.gov/earthday/tips.htm for a more ideas to help save the future of our planet.

 

‘Tis the Season…For theft.

While you and your family are enjoying freshly baked sugar cookies, hot chocolate, and quality time this holiday season, thieves are out looking for some easy targets. With so many distractions this time of year, our cars and homes can easily become a target.  You can keep your belongings safe with some quick precautions that won’t distract from your holiday fun.

In your car:

  1. If you can avoid it, don’t leave presents or any valuable items in your car. Place these items in your truck, or if you can’t, cover any belongings in the car so they aren’t visible.
  2. Lock all car doors, roll up all windows, and double check to make sure the sunroof is closed – even if you will just be inside for a few minutes.
  3. Try to park in well-lit areas near store entrances. Thieves are less likely to attempt to steal from a car when they are easily visible to people or security cameras.
  4. Do NOT leave your vehicle running and unattended at any time.
  5. While shopping, avoid dropping off some bags in your car and then going back into the store or mall. Thieves may be watching, and doing so makes your car a desired target.
  6. If you see someone suspicious near your car, keep walking until you can find a security guard to escort you, or until the suspicious person is gone.
  7. Consider an anti-theft device, if you don’t already have one. Some insurance companies offer discounts for anti-theft devices, so it’s a win-win for you!
  8. If you are leaving your car with the valet, take all personal belongings with you, and don’t leave your home keys on the keychain.

In your house:

  1. Lock all doors and windows. You may consider installing dead bolt locks on the doors and specialized locks for sliding glass doors.
  2. If you don’t have a peephole or viewer in your front door, get one. This helps avoid physically opening the door to speak with anyone who knocks.
  3. An alarm system should scare off any burglars. Some alarm systems will even link to the fire department in case of a fire, keeping your pets and family safe as well.
  4. Outdoor lights with a motion sensor and/or timer will help ward off burglars.
  5. Try to keep shrubbery, trees, and fences low to keep visibility at a maximum. Burglars are less likely to try and enter your home if they are going to be seen.
  6. Don’t hide your keys outside your home. If you worry you may lose or forget a key, you can leave one with a trusted family member.
  7. If you will be away, ask a trusted family member, friend, or neighbor to collect any mail and newspapers that aren’t stopped, and let your alarm company know you will be gone.

For more in depth home security measures, check out the Travelers Insurance article, Ways to Prevent Home Theft: https://www.travelers.com/prepare-prevent/home/home-safety/home-security.aspx.

Do you know of any safety tips we missed? Let us know!

Holiday Party Safety

The holidays are the perfect excuse to get family and friends together, or to throw a fun party for your office. With all the excitement and planning, we can sometimes forget to think about what would happen if something were to go wrong. Cooking up gingerbread appetizers and mixing peppermint drinks can be festive, but not checking with guests about food allergies or making sure they have a designated driver can cause potential trouble for you.

Legally, we are responsible for guests in our home. If you have a home insurance policy, your liability coverage kicks in if someone gets hurt and sues you, but we like to avoid those situations. While it’s impossible to control every situation and prevent anything bad from ever happening, there are precautions you can take to help ensure everyone’s safety.

For a personal or work party:

  1. Enlist the help of someone who will make sure everyone has a sober ride home. Put the intoxicated person in a cab, call them a car service, or let them sleep on your couch – but don’t let them drive buzzed or drunk. You can save lives and keep yourself out of court, and out of jail.
  2. Serve a variety of food, and non-alcoholic drinks as well.
  3. Try to avoid using glass – just in case it is dropped and shatters. Plus, you get to make sure your fine glassware stays in one piece.
  4. Ask ahead of time about dietary concerns.
  5. Keep food properly refrigerated. Food poisoning is never fun.
  6. Depending on the size of the party, consider purchasing an event insurance policy.
  7. Just a reminder – in some parts of the country, serving alcohol to anyone under the age of 21 can land you in jail.

Just for office parties:

  1. Think about limiting the amount of drinks a person can consume. Drink tickets will usually work well, but be aware that people who aren’t drinking may give their ticket to someone who is drinking.
  2. We highly suggest that you don’t, under any circumstances, give alcohol to a minor, or anyone who is not legally of age to drink.
  3. If your budget allows, hire a bartender. By not allowing guests to mix or pour their own drinks, they won’t be able to over pour.
  4. Consider closing the bar 1 to 2 hours before the end of the party. That’s also a good time to serve coffee and dessert.
  5. Make sure your employees are aware that all work harassment laws still apply at work functions. Sending a memo before the party is a quick, but hopefully efficient way, to remind everyone.
  6. As festive as it may look, don’t hang mistletoe at your office or an office party. Someone may take it seriously and offend their coworker, or their coworker’s spouse.
  7. Make sure attendance is voluntary.
  8. Review your Workers Compensation and Employment Practices Liability policies. If you don’t have these policies, contact your agent for more information, and remember that Workers Compensation insurance is required by law.

Now that you know what to avoid, we hope you and your guests have a wonderful and safe time at your holiday parties this year! Let us know if we forgot any important tips!

Haunted House Protection

CiStock_000004425529XSmall-204x300andy has been purchased and placed strategically in a bowl by the door. Your house may or may not be decorated with ghoulish characters and pumpkins. It’s the evening of October 31st, and you’re all set for the trick-or-treaters to stop by. Or are you? Have you checked to make sure the front of your house is safe and your candy is still fresh?

Insurance claims can happen anywhere, anytime – even on the scariest (or most exciting, depending on your viewpoint) night of the year. According to the law, you are responsible for anyone in or on your property. Your home insurance policy probably includes liability coverage, which normally provides coverage for injuries or damages to anyone not living in your household, including trick-or-treaters and their chaperones. Please keep in mind that this information is general in nature and may not apply to every policy or claim.

With the hoards of people walking around on Halloween, it’s a perfect night to make some extra precautions. Here are some ideas to make your home a safer place for all the princesses, ghosts, and superheroes bound to knock on your door.

  1. Make sure your walkway has enough light. Halloween decorations are often dark, but it’s important to make sure everyone can see where they are walking and what they are walking on.
  2. Clear obstructions in the walkway. Keeping decorations off the walking path helps prevent stubbed feet and falling trick-or-treaters.
  3. Lock up your pets. It’s safer for some pets to stay away from the commotion and costumes, and it also protects your guests. Even the sweetest dog can bite and the nicest cat can scratch. Keep in mind that some home insurance policies may not provide coverage if your pet injures someone.
  4. Hand out store bought candy, but check the expiration date. It’s always better to hand out store bought candy, as they list ingredients and you don’t know what allergies a person may have. Carrots and apples – although healthy – can spoil more quickly than already wrapped candy.

If you aren’t going to be home this Halloween, there is a good chance you will be driving.  Take extra precaution when driving, as there are large amounts of people (and small children) walking around in the dark. As always, refrain from texting while driving and avoid alcohol before (and during) the drive.

We hope everyone has a very safe and enjoyable Halloween!