Our homes protect us from the most severe winter weather, but our homes are not always protected from the same elements. Snow, ice, and even simply freezing temperatures can have drastic effects on our homes and the parts that make them work. As the temperatures drop, risk rises. Here’s how to minimize those risks.
Leave the heat on at least 65 degrees when you leave
This is less about the temperature in your rooms than it is about the temperature inside your walls. It gets colder inside your walls than it does on the thermostat, and this can be dangerous because your pipes are inside your walls. If it gets too cold in there, your pipes could freeze and burst. A burst pipe can cause anything from light water damage to damage that forces you to vacate your home. In most cases, water damage from burst pipes will be covered by your homeowner’s insurance. However, if your insurance carrier finds that the damage was caused by negligence on your part (such as keeping your heat at too low a temperature or leaving it off entirely when the house is vacant), you may be denied coverage. In these cases, the damage could have been reasonably prevented. This is why it’s best to keep your heat on at least 65 degrees.
Monitor any alternative heat sources you use
Some homeowners like to utilize alternative or auxiliary sources of heat such as a space heater or fireplace. If you haven’t used your fireplace or space heater since last winter, make sure it’s still in good shape before turning it on. Read up on space heater safety before use, then keep a close eye on it during the first few uses. Keep combustible materials away from fireplaces and space heaters, and never cover a space heater in any way. Fires can start in an instant and cause extensive damage in just minutes.
Remain aware of common risk areas outdoors
Outside in the elements, there are several common risks that homeowners face. First, there are risks to those that visit your home. Icy driveways and sidewalks can easily cause a visitor to slip and fall. If you know it may snow, take the time to treat your outdoor surfaces to prevent the buildup of slippery snow and ice. Keep an eye on your trees to check for dead or damaged branches that may fall on people, vehicles, or structures. You should also have your gutters cleaned routinely, especially if you notice a buildup of icy leaves and debris.
It is not only cold in winter but also full of risk. You don’t have to live in fear of disaster, but there are steps you can take to help prevent having to make any insurance claims. Reach out to your agent if you want more advice on how to reduce risks at home.
It’s cold, it’s wet, and you just want to curl up on the couch with a hot drink and a book. It can be hard to keep up a healthy lifestyle when it’s cold outside, but it’s not impossible. Here’s why you need to stay active and some tips to help you get back in the swing of things!
Why Exercise During Winter?
There are benefits to exercising year round, but some are unique to winter. If you exercise outdoors in the sun, you are boosting your vitamin D, which can drop naturally in the winter due to fewer daylight hours. According to the CDC, daily exercise during the winter can also improve your immunity to things like colds and flu and other bacterial infections.
Find Indoor Locations to Exercise
If your exercise of choice is walking, you can walk almost anywhere! We’ve all seen the “mall walkers” before, and although some might think they are silly, they’re getting their exercise in and staying out of the elements! Don’t be afraid to try out a new activity like mall walking. Other indoor activities include following workout videos at home, indoor swimming and other gym activities, climbing stairs on your work break, and more. If you do decide to exercise out of doors, make sure to wear the warmest clothes you can, stay hydrated, and make the most of daylight hours. If exercising outside at night, wear reflective clothing to stay safe.
Seek Out Community Classes
Winter is notorious not only for the colder weather, but also for increased loneliness and depression. A great way to combat this is by joining a group exercise class! You don’t have to go to a paid gym to find these classes. They may be available for free from your community’s recreation center. Whichever gym you choose to go to, you will be sure to find exercise classes that suit your interests. You will get your body moving and may even make new, like-minded friends.
Stay Healthy In Other Areas, Too
Winter is a season packed with holidays, and with the holidays comes rich foods and drink. It can be tempting to just give up on trying to eat healthy, especially when all you want to do is hibernate and eat comfort food in the warmth of your home. However exercise must be used in conjunction with diet in order to have observable healthy benefits to your life. Getting enough sleep is also paramount to keeping up a healthy lifestyle. You might feel less inclined to get your body moving in the winter, but it is truly the best thing you can do for your overall health and wellness!
It has long been said that dogs are humankind’s best friend. If you have a canine companion you love, chances are they are an integral part of your family life. They snuggle with you (or on the dog bed) at movie nights, attend your barbeques and parties, and run to greet the delivery worker. But for some dog owners, living with their furry friend can cause home insurance rates to rise. It all depends on what breed of dog you own. That is why the assistance of an independent insurance agent is invaluable. They can shop the market to find you the lowest rates that will cover the “risks” that the insurance companies believe your dog’s breed pose.
Here are the most common breeds:
- Alaskan Malamutes
- Bull Mastiffs
- Chow Chows
- Doberman Pinschers
- German Shepherds
- Great Danes
- Pit Bulls and Staffordshire Terriers
- Presa Canarios
- Siberian Husky
- Wolf Hybrids
First Thing’s First
Do not conceal your dog’s breed from your insurance agent. This may be tempting since, as we will soon discuss, owning a “high-risk breed” dog will probably increase your home insurance rates. You may believe that your dog is the most angelic creature in the world, but dogs are animals and we can never know what may frighten or intimidate them into aggressive action. If there is an incident where your dog harms either your property or a visitor, you will wish you’d been paying those higher premiums all along. The average claim payout for dog bites, one of the most costly claims, is a whopping $30,000. If your insurance carrier denies you coverage because you lied or concealed information from them, you could find yourself responsible for that hefty check. Yikes.
What Will Happen?
When you own a dog that is considered a more “high-risk” or traditionally “aggressive breed,” it can be difficult to even find an insurance carrier that will cover your dog under your policy. Once you do, with the assistance of your independent agent, you will likely be required to increase your liability coverage limits. The amount can vary – it is best to rely on your agent’s expertise for this. Remember how we mentioned the average payout for a dog bite is 30K? You want to make sure you have adequate coverage or else some of that money could have to come out of your own pocket.
It’s possible your insurance carrier may want you to purchase a separate umbrella policy instead of simply increasing your liability limits. An umbrella policy can be useful, not just in the case of pet damage or attacks, but also for any incident that happens on your own property.
Take Preventative Measures
In order to reduce the risk of your dog biting someone or otherwise causing injury, there are some steps you can take. Do not engage your dog in aggressive play, put your dog in its kennel or room in situations where it seems stressed, and be sure to work on socializing and training your dog when you first adopt it. Maintain a securely fenced yard if your dog spends significant time outside, and always supervise your dog when it plays with visitors – especially children who may not yet know how to treat an animal gently.
Your beloved dog’s breed does not have to stop you from being properly insured. Independent agents can shop the insurance market for you in order to find you a homeowner’s policy that provides adequate coverage and allows for your “high-risk” breed dog.