Keeping Your Home Safe While on Vacation

Keeping your home safe while on vacation

Keeping Your Home Safe While on Vacation

Following months on lockdown that may have felt like years, many families are deciding it’s finally time to take a vacation. While there is plenty of focus on how to stay safe during the trip, it’s also a good idea to take steps before we depart to keep our homes safe.  

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, on average, one home is burglarized every 18 seconds in the United States. Burglaries occur most often during the summer months, and any evidence that your home is unoccupied will make it a more likely target. Before you take off, consider taking the following steps to keep your home safe.

  • Lock all windows and doors.
  • Have mail or package delivery stopped.  A stack of mail or a package on the doorstep is a clear giveaway that homeowners are absent.
  • Hire someone to mow your lawn or shovel your driveway. 
  • Tell a trusted neighbor what your plans are. If possible, ask the neighbor to bring in your garbage cans if they will be outside and to keep an eye out for anything suspicious.
  • Consider putting some indoor and outdoor lights on timer switches.  This helps make your home look occupied.  
  • Wait until you return to post pictures and stories about your trip on social media. Posts often circulate more widely than you intend.

While these steps will take a bit of time, they will help ensure that your trip is worry-free and relaxing. 

Enjoy the peace of mind that comes with planning ahead for your well-earned vacation.  Learn about more ways you can plan to protect your home and family by calling Waitte’s Insurance Agency where our staff can assist you with your unique insurance needs. Share our vacation tips with your family and friends, and be sure you, your family, and your friends are covered so we can all keep our community safe.

 

For further information, visit the following publication:

US Department of Justice "Crime Clock" article

Storm Damage

Storm Damage

Connecticut is known for its scenic foliage, rich history, and savory cuisine (lobster rolls, anyone?). Our great state is also known for wind storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, and blizzards. The United States suffered 10 weather disaster events in just the first half of 2020, causing over $1 billion each.* How do you protect your family? Prepare your emergency kit with a flashlight, battery-powered radio, and spare batteries, and call Waitte’s Insurance for a quote so you can be ready to weather the storm.

*National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Fire

Fire Fighter saves young girl

Every 24 seconds in the U.S., a fire department responds to a fire somewhere in our nation.* Are you prepared? In school, we are taught to stop, drop, and roll. The American Red Cross advises us to GET OUT, STAY OUT, and call 911. Planning ahead can make all the difference. Drills can save your life and the lives of your family members. Planning ahead also includes homeowners’ insurance to help you rebuild when the fire is over. Waitte’s Insurance can help you make that plan. 

 *National Fire Protection Association

A Safe Home is a Well Insured Home

Illustration of a smoke alarm sounding off in a smoky room

Many people contact us asking how to bring down their
homeowners’ insurance premiums. One of the quickest answers is to take steps to make your home safer. A safe home means a lower risk of the insurance company having to pay for home damage or other expenses, and leads to lower insurance rates in return. Each precaution you take can reduce your bill.

Install a smoke and carbon monoxide detector

As of 2014, it is illegal in the state of Connecticut to buy or sell any home without these detectors. Even if you don’t plan on moving, you still want your family to be warned in the event of a fire or carbon monoxide leak.

Install a pool barrier

By law, pools must be behind a fence, gate, or other enclosure so that they cannot be accessed from the outside. If you have small children or pets, keep them safe by also ensuring that there is a fence or other barrier between your exterior doors and the pool.

Insulate pipes near exterior walls

This prevents them from freezing even if the heat is turned off and protects you from costly water damage from a burst pipe. However, if you leave your home for vacation or other extended periods of time, don’t  rely on the insulation to protect your pipes alone. Rather than turning your furnace completely off, lower it to around 60 degrees.

Install a burglar alarm

Alarms provide an effective deterrent to burglars and also notifies the police of a break-in immediately, even if you’re away on vacation. Insurance discounts vary as you go from a simple, unmonitored alarm that just sounds when a window is open to a fully-monitored system with motion detectors and cameras.

Add storm shutters

Storm shutters protect your windows from debris caused from both winter storms and the rare tropical system that makes its way up the Atlantic coast. Because they protect you from window damage, wind damage and rain damage, the insurance rate discount can be substantial.

There are many steps to be taken in order to maintain a safe home. Of course Waitte’s Insurance is more than happy to assist you in lowering your premiums; but first and foremost, we wish for your home to be safe for you and your loved ones. For further information, contact Waitte’s Insurance Agency, Inc. today by clicking here.

Moving Out? 12 Tips for Preparing to Sell Your House

When preparing to sell your house, remember there is a reason why some houses sell immediately and others sit on the market for years. When people look at a house they trust their instinct before committing to the purchase, and the bulk of their instinct comes from their first impression. There are a few things you can do to sell your house quickly.

1.  Make sure to clean the home thoroughly.
2.  A fresh coat of paint typically removes all old smells like pet odors and creates a home worthy of being shown to prospective buyers.
3.  Make sure the lawn is manicured and bushes are trimmed.
4.  Flower beds are always a nice addition.
5.  Increase the home’s exterior beauty by cleaning the gutters and pressure washing the outside of the house.
6.  Make sure the home is fully functional mechanically by taking the time to make sure every single electrical outlet, switch and fixture works properly and smoothly as they are supposed to.
7.  Plumbing repairs are often overlooked, but every faucet should have the proper water pressure.
8.  Every drain should be able to accommodate the amount of water it receives without backing up in the slightest.
9.  Complete any minor repairs such as a hole in the wall of the guest bedroom, or a closet door that doesn’t properly close.
10.  Stage the home to show how the rooms and spaces can be used. Remove unnecessary furniture and personal items to showcase how spacious the rooms can look without clutter.
11.  Remove most, if not all personal photographs and keepsakes. The best way to appeal to potential buyers is to help them envision themselves living there, not another family.
12.  Realistically price the home based on what similar properties in the neighborhood sell for.

Remember that the people buying your house are likely making the biggest investment of their life. Preparing to sell your house is important to assure them of the wisdom of their purchase. Take the time to prepare your house according to potential buyers’ expectations in order to assure a quick sale as you move on to your own new home.

Taking these precautions shouldn’t only apply to when you are selling your home. Proper plumbing, electrical and other large scale projects should always be monitored to prevent damage to your home. Resale value is key!

Leave a comment in the box below or contact Waitte’s Insurance Agency once you have settled into your new home so that we can assist you in purchasing the best homeowners insurance policy for you!

Training Your Pup to Avoid an Aggressive Pet

Aggressive dogs pose serious threats to the community and are far more prevalent than one would think. In 2013, one-third of all homeowners’ insurance liability claims paid was due to dog bite claims. Families with “bully breed” dogs, such as pit bulls and Rottweilers may find themselves unable to obtain homeowner’s insurance or having to pay higher premiums as these dogs have higher aggressiveness statistics. Dog attacks can be prevented by appropriate training and raising of the dog. It’s important to understand some key dog-training principles to raise a safe, friendly dog.

Don’t yell or scream.

While dog training can be stressful, yelling and screaming at the dog is not the answer. These actions cause anxiety and stress in the dog and build tension. In order to successfully train your dog, he/she needs to respect you. By constantly yelling, your dog will just become used to it and start to ignore your commands.

Don’t use negative reinforcement.

Negative reinforcement, like hitting or using a shock collar invokes fear in your dog. Fear may cause certain breeds of dog to act out in aggression. Positive reinforcement with affection, treats, or toys have been found to be more effective than negative reinforcement. 

Ensure your dog is fed properly.

One way to prevent food aggression is to ensure that your dog is fed properly. Never withhold meals as a source of punishment. Your dog may then feel the need to protect his food once he is fed. Be sure to feed your dog at least twice daily and according to the portion guidelines set forth by your vet.

Start socialization early.

Early socialization is a key component of a well mannered dog. Puppies and young dogs should be socialized with other people, children, and other animals.

Never resort to physical abuse.

Physical abuse is a key cause of aggression in dogs. Dogs should never be punched, kicked, or physically abused in other ways after they have misbehaved. This causes them to feel threatened and may, in turn, lead to aggressive or violent behavior.

When raised appropriately, all breeds of dogs can become wonderful members of the family. A state lawmaker in Connecticut is currently trying to introduce legislation that would not allow insurance companies to increase homeowners insurance based on the breed of their dog. However, until this legislation is enacted, it’s incredibly important to be a responsible dog owner. Complete thorough research on the dog breed you are considering prior to bringing it home. Be sure to make training your pup a priority. With plenty of research, healthy attention, love, and discipline you can ensure that your dog is a great addition to your family.

All dogs are considered “man’s best friend”, but it’s important to know if your family pet will affect your insurance premium. If you’re unsure if your dog falls under the same category as Pit bulls or Rottweilers, contact Waitte’s Insurance Agency Inc. for a consultation.

Tips to Safeguard Your Home Against Cold Weather

As the days grow shorter and the air grows colder, people around the country experience the telltale signs of the fall season. Along with the approach of the holidays and the changing color of the leaves, however, you can also expect unpredictable weather patterns; from sudden storms to early snowfall. Especially in New England, there is no telling when temperatures may drastically drop – an event that can have significant impacts on your home.

There are numerous ways in which falling temperatures can create problems for your home:

Frozen pipes: What may potentially be the biggest problem caused by cold weather is the freezing of your water and gas pipes, which occurs when the temperature is so cold that the pipes crack or burst from expanding ice. This leads to problems accessing these utilities in your home.

Weathering: Strong storms can damage the paint on your house and lead to a weathered look.

Roof damage: Falling trees or piled-on snow can cause damage to roof tiles or the foundation of the roof itself; which can in turn lead to leaks or even collapses.

Landscape damage: Certain plants cannot survive the freezing temperatures of winter, or may be damaged or knocked over by strong storms.

Cold temperatures: The need to keep your home warm can skyrocket your energy costs and end up being ineffective despite your furnace’s best efforts.

Thankfully, you can take preventative measures to guard your home against the harmful effects described above. Take stock of your situation, analyze the greatest threats to your home, and take the following steps to safeguard your home against cold weather:

Frozen pipes: Insulate your exposed pipes with foam insulation, and make sure to inspect those that are not insulated regularly.

Weathering: Invest in weather-resistant paint that will withstand chipping once cold weather approaches.

Roof damage: Make sure that your trees are not so close to the home that they may cause damage if they fall over onto your roof. Also, clear your roof of snow and inspect it for damage after the weather warms.

Landscape damage: Bring potted plants indoors if possible, and if not, add mulch around plants and cover plants that are prone to frost damage.

Cold temperatures: Use weather stripping to minimize the heat that escapes your home and insulate the house from drafts.

We want you, your family, and your home to be completely safe and sound during the transition into fall and eventually winter. However, in the event that inclement weather conditions have damaged your home or automobile, contact Waitte’s Insurance Agency, Inc. so that we can help you review your current homeowners’ insurance policy and provide you with peace of mind!

5 Tips on How to Prevent Ice Dams

When you have snow on your roof, it should melt gradually and drain into your gutters. If you have ice dams, though, melted snow isn’t able to drain properly. Ice dams form when parts of your roof near the top are warmer than the rest, causing snow in those areas to melt faster. Melted snow then runs down toward the eaves, which are colder, where it freezes and forms blockages called ice dams. These dams block additional melted snow from being able to drain into your gutters, causing it to flow under the eaves and potentially damage your home’s interior. Fortunately, you can take the following steps to prevent ice dams from forming.

Keep Snow Off Your Roof

After heavy snowfalls, clear off snow from your roof as soon as it’s safe to do so. Consider using a roof rake to clear away a few feet of snow from around the eaves without having to go up on your roof.

Keep Downspouts Clear

Clear snow and ice away from your downspouts throughout winter. This helps ensure that melted snow can drain from your roof to the ground through your gutters. It also stops you from having pools of standing water around your downspouts.

Add Attic Insulation

Insulation helps keep heated air from reaching your roof through your attic, which lowers the risk of having ice dams form. Make sure your attic has enough insulation, especially in places where heat can sneak through, such as around vent pipes and light fixtures.

Set Up Heated Cables

Heated cables placed around the edges of your roof can help prevent ice dams. These cables, which attach to your roof with clips, give off heat that helps ensure that melted snow from higher up has a clear path to your gutters.

Improve Roof Ventilation

Making sure your roof is adequately ventilated helps cooler air circulate below the whole roof surface. This prevents certain areas from becoming warmer than the rest, which reduces your risk of ice dams. Ideally, you should have a ridge vent and soffit vents that have openings of the same size.

If you end up with damage caused by ice dams, check your homeowners’ insurance policy. Depending on your policy, you might be covered for issues such as water damage, mold growth, damaged siding or shingles and damaged insulation.

Before having damages to your home repaired due to ice dams or any other circumstance, contact Waite’s Insurance Agency to find out if your current policy covers such repairs.

8 Things to Know Before Purchasing Homeowners Insurance

Buying a home is one of the greatest decisions that you make in your life, which makes buying homeowners insurance equally as important. Having a suitable insurance policy or protection plan for your phone, computer, or other personal items is essential for covering your investment, right? So why wouldn’t you make sure that you got the same out of your homeowner’s insurance?

Just in case this is the first time you have gone through this process, there are several critical things that you want to keep in mind when shopping around for a fitting insurance policy. Here are a few tips that will help you on your insurance hunting adventure.

1. Know What Your Home is Worth

Has it been some time since you have had your home inspected? No better time than the present, especially if you are purchasing homeowners insurance. Get an exact value from a home builder or a home assessment company so that you can get a better idea of how much you need to insure your home for. This will also put into perspective in the worst possible scenario, what it would cost to replace the entire house, from the foundation up.

2. Find Out Exactly How to File a Claim

In the painstaking midst of something awful happening to your home, the last thing that you want to do is get put on hold. Know exactly who you need to talk to, what information you need to file an insurance claim, and what to do in the event of a home emergency.

3. Use Simple Tactics and Tools That Can Save You Money on Insurance

One great way that you can save money on a homeowners insurance policy is to take advantage of some simple devices, that many don’t think of. Things that could potentially make your policy cheaper are:

  •    -Deadbolt locks
  •    -A home security system or alarm
  •    -New, working fire alarms and sprinklers
  •    -Safe wiring and updated electrical systems
  •    -Being located near a fire and/or police department

Ask your insurer about these to see if you can have money taken off of your premium.

4. Take Inventory of All of the Valuable Items in Your House

Keep an inventory of all of the valuable items in your home, such as jewelry or fine artwork, and the costs associated with those items to the best of your ability. Anything that is important to you or costly should be catalogued somewhere safe so that you have an idea of the possessions you should insure in your home.

5. Shop Around Before You Buy a Plan

Don’t buy through the first insurance company or buy the first plan you come across. Make sure you shop around before you are absolutely certain of which kind of plan is adequate for your particular needs.

6. Compare Insurance Plan Deductibles

Part of shopping around is in comparing deductibles. The deductible is the maximum out-of-pocket costs that you would pay in the event that something disastrous happens to your house or personal property. Compare prices to make sure that you aren’t overpaying and that you are financially capable of paying your deductible.

7. Note the Environmental Risks That Your Premium is Based On 

Think about some of the environmental factors that would put your home at a higher risk for a claim or an unfortunate incident. This is where factors like neighborhood, crime rate, natural disasters specific to your area, and distance from freeways or congested areas would apply.

8. Understand What You Are Covered For

You would be surprised how often this one gets overlooked. Homeowners insurance policies can look like an entire novel’s worth of information, which makes it even more critical that you know exactly what is included in your policy. Ask your insurer or agent any questions that you might have on the policy, and if you need some added reassurance have an attorney review your policy.

By abiding by these simple eight precautionary tips, you will be well on your way to purchasing the most appropriate coverage for your new home!

Prevent a ‘Fall’ Out: Prepare Your Home for Autumn

Towards the beginning of September, people begin to notice that change is in the air. The air gets colder, the days get shorter, and the leaves begin to evolve into a kaleidoscopic splendor. The Autumn season is quickly approaching, and homeowners must take the proper precautions to ensure their home will survive the sometimes harsh weather conditions of the later months in the year. Here are 10 tips for home maintenance that will prepare you for fall in New England:

1. Check Your Roof and Chimney

Start by cleaning off all the dead leaves and debris, then check for any damaged or loose shingles that may become a problem later on if they are left without being repaired. Have your chimney cleaned and inspected by a professional to ensure that it is ready for the firewood that you will burn as the cold weather sets in. Make sure that you have stocked up on firewood as well, especially if you are gathering your own.

2. Repair Your Siding, If Necessary

As with your roof, make sure that the siding on your home is not damaged, and if it is, it’s important to fix the problem before the weather changes and you are no longer able to do so. You can try to fix it yourself, or call in a professional.

3. Reinforce Windows and Doors

This is one of the most important things you can do to not only prevent drafts and leaks but also to save energy, and therefore, money. Use caulk to seal up gaps along the frame of your doors and windows, which allows you to keep warm air inside and avoid a loss of energy.

4. Clean the gutters and check water drainage

Make sure that your gutters are free of dead leaves and debris, and that water has a clear path from your roof, through the downspouts and out onto the ground. Otherwise, large pools of water could collect on your roof in the fall and lead to leaks.

5. Take Apart Garden Hoses

Separate the hose from the outside spigot and turn off the faucet. Be sure that you drain the hose and store it in a dry place. This is to prevent the water that is left over from freezing and damaging the hose.

6. Check Your Sprinklers and Irrigation System

As with garden hoses, you may have to drain your sprinklers to prevent freezing when the cold weather sets in. Speak to a professional to check exactly what you should do, as this can prove to be taxing.

7. Inspect Landscaping

Check that your trees are trimmed and your plants have protective mulch around them to be ready for when the frost sets in. Also take note of any tree branches that extend over your home or driveway. Weak or dying branches are most susceptible to breaking and landing on valuable property; especially when weight is added, such as snowfall.

8. Test and/or Replace Home Protection Devices

Make the start of the Autumn season your designated time to check the batteries in all home safety devices, such as smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. They should be equipped with fresh batteries and tested at least twice a year.

9. Store Away Seasonal Furniture

Lawn chairs, picnic tables, and other outdoor furniture should be stored away in a dry, undisturbed area to prevent weather damage.

10. Organize Your Garage/Shed

With all of your summer furniture and equipment being stored away for the season, things can get pretty tight for storage. Take the time to organize and store away your summer items and remove any liquids that can freeze during the fall/winter months.

*Bonus Tip

Winter isn’t the only season for hazardous driving conditions. Throughout Autumn, roadways will inevitably be covered with leaves that fall as the weather turns colder. After rainfall, wet leaves on the road can be just as slippery and dangerous as snow. Before the leaves even begin to change color, always review and renew, if necessary, your automobile insurance policy to ensure you’re protected from any unforeseen incidents that may occur during the latter months of the year. Call Waitte’s Insurance Agency at (860) 886-1961 or click here to double check your current coverage.