Risk Considerations for the Professional Home Handyman: Insuring Your Tools, Equipment & Supplies

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There may have been a time when the home handyman’s tool chest contained no more than a hammer, screwdriver (maybe two), a few random nails and screws, pliers and duct tape. But those days have passed. To stay competitive, today’s handyman must offer services that go beyond those of previous generations, and the tools, equipment and supplies needed for these services — which may include landscaping, washing, electrical/plumbing work or even a full-room remodel — can be specialized.

As the type of work (and the stuff needed to perform it) continues to evolve, one principle remains unchanged: Without access to functional tools, equipment and supplies, you won’t get the job done, and if you don’t get the job done, you don’t get paid. Here are questions to think about:

1) Have you considered the effect a loss to your tools, equipment and/or supplies would have on your income? For example, would delays in completion adversely affect how much you get paid for the job? What costs would you incur — such as renting replacement equipment — to avoid a delay?

2) What would it cost to replace everything you need? For example, if someone steals your circular saw and drill from your garage, the financial consequences may not be severe. However, a single vehicle accident could easily destroy your power tools, ladder, pressure washer, lawn equipment and  anything else you may need to fulfill your obligations to your customers.

If such a loss does occur, could the blow to your bottom line be lessened by purchasing insurance?

Is Your Loss Insurable?

Some reasons why a tool becomes unusable — such as wear and tear, rust or obsolescence — are not insurable. Preventative loss measures such as proper storage and maintenance can prolong the use of such items and help to prevent a loss from effecting your bottom line.

Other reasons for loss — such as theft, fire, or vehicle accident — may be insurable, and possessing adequate insurance will help to lessen the effect on your bottom line.

What Insurance Do You Need?

The answer to this important question begins with a call to your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent. Your agent will help you identify what insurance products are available to help you avoid the potentially high-cost of replacing your damaged tools, equipment or supplies out-of-pocket. For example, your agent can help you with the following questions:

I already have personal insurance, and my business is small. Do I really need business insurance for my stuff?

It’s true that some homeowners and renters insurance policies offer limited coverage for business property when damaged or stolen. However, such limitations can be severe, and relying on a personal insurance policy to sufficiently cover business-related losses is dangerous.

Can insurance for my business property be added to my personal insurance?

Depending on the insurance company, it may be possible to add some coverage for your business property to your homeowners or renters insurance policy. However, your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent will likely recommend that you secure a separate insurance policy for your business property that may also include other essential insurance coverage like business liability.

Will my insurance automatically cover items I’ve recently purchased?

Depending on the insurance policy, there may be enough coverage already included to cover damage to newly acquired tools, equipment and supplies without needing to make specific changes to your policy. However, other types of insurance may not automatically include coverage for non-specified items. To be safe, notify your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent when you make a new purchase.

What should I do if I suffer a loss?

You’ve done everything possible to avoid a loss, but sometimes, bad things still happen. Perhaps a wind or hailstorm damaged the garage where your business property is stored, or perhaps someone broke into your trailer and stole your equipment. To expedite getting your claim paid, be prepared to provide your insurance company with as much information as possible as soon as possible. For example, don’t wait for a loss to occur to take inventory, which includes pictures, video, receipts, serial numbers and any other information that can help establish a value for your stuff. Should a loss occur, collect as much information about the cause — such as photo or video evidence of building damage or trailer break-in — and call your Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent for assistance.

Insure & Be Confident

Every successful handyman takes pride in being able to perform a variety of tasks at a high level of professionalism. But when it comes to insurance, only a Trusted Choice® Independent Insurance Agent can deliver the service you expect. Call West Town Insurance Agency today at 252-368-4017!

Source: TrustedChoice.com

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Spring Storm Questions and Answers

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Does my homeowners policy cover flood damage?

Most policies cover damage from falling water or rain blown by the wind, but not from rising water or flooding. In most cases you must have an additional flood policy to cover damage from rising water or flooding.

What should folks who’ve had damage from a windstorm do first?

-Contact your insurance agent as quickly as possible and ask for instructions on what to do until your adjuster arrives. You can reach us at 252-368-4017.
-Begin preparing an inventory of personal property damaged or destroyed and take pictures of the damaged property.
-Protect your property from further damage. Your reasonable expenses to protect your property are part of the loss and are generally reimbursed by insurance companies. Keep all receipts.
-Do not have permanent repairs made until your insurance company has inspected the property and you have reached an agreement on the cost of repairs.

What if your home is too damaged to live in?

If necessary, rent temporary shelter. If your home is uninhabitable because of physical damage, most homeowners’ policies will pay additional living expenses while your property is being repaired. Lack of power or water is not considered physical damage and, therefore, additional living expenses will not be covered. Before renting temporary shelter, check with your insurance company or agent to determine what expenses will be reimbursed.

What about damage from fallen trees, is that covered?

-Damage to your home from fallen trees is covered under most homeowners’ policies. Most companies will pay to have trees removed from the damaged structure, such as your home, garage or fence, as well as off the residence.
-The policy does not cover the removal of trees unless the tree damaged a covered property.
-Damage to your parked vehicle from a fallen tree is covered under your comprehensive automobile insurance.

Many people lost a lot of food which spoiled when the power went out. Is that covered?

-Most homeowners’ policies cover food which spoils due to power loss only if the individual feeder line to your home is down, not in instances of widespread power failure.
-However, you can be covered in the event of widespread power failure if you purchased a “Refrigerated Property Coverage” endorsement. This endorsement allows up to $500 in coverage with a $100 deductible.

What should people do if they can’t reach their agent?

The NC Department Of Insurance has claims phone numbers for the major insurers in NC.  Call 855-408-1212 (toll free) for these numbers.

 

http://www.ncdoi.com/Consumer/Consumer_Disaster_Spring_Storms.aspx

What to do Before and After a Winter Storm

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Before and After a Winter Storm

Before the storm

Protect your home by:

·         clearing sidewalks and entranceways

·         keeping gutters free of leaves and debris, so ice dams do not occur and cause water leakage into your house.

·         letting facets drip slowly so water will move and prevent pipes from freezing.

·         winterizing your home by sealing windows and doors, and adding extra insulation.

Protect your car by:

·         checking hoses, battery and antifreeze levels.

·         keeping gas tank filled to prevent condensation from forming in the tank. Such condensation could cause the fuel line to freeze.

Protect your pets by:

·         cleaning any antifreeze spills and storing antifreeze where pets cannot be attracted to its sweet scent.

·         bringing pets indoors, into the house or garage, to provide warm shelter.

·         providing plenty of straw or other warm bedding.

·         remembering to provide fresh water and ensuring the water does not freeze. Use a plastic dish to prevent the pet’s tongue from freezing to a metal bowl.

·         checking underneath your car’s hood for small animals (like cats) that may have crawled inside seeking warmth.

After the storm

·         Clear sidewalks and entranceways from snow and ice to prevent injury.

·         Call your insurance agent to report any damage to your home.

·         Photograph any damaged areas before doing anything to them.

·         Make temporary repairs only to your home to prevent further damage.

·         Keep receipts of all materials bought or services rendered involving repairs.

·         Do not make major, permanent repairs until you reach an agreement with your insurance company.

·         Avoid downed power lines and contact your local power company to report them.

If you have any questions or problems concerning your insurance coverage, contact West Town Insurance Agency at (252) 368-4017.

 

http://www.ncdoi.com/Consumer/Consumer_Disaster_Before_After.aspx

 

Home Based Businesses

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Own a Home-Based Business? Think ‘Presidentially’ When Considering Risks
No, we are not implying you fancy yourself the next Washington or Lincoln. But are you the proud owner or founder of one of the estimated 59% of established businesses in the United States that operate from a home? Then, even if your face doesn’t appear on Mount Rushmore, for your business you are still the top dog, head cheese, or grand high poobah. So welcome to your month, Ms. or Mr. President!

But just as you realize that there are similarities to all businesses, wherever located, you also know there are often concerns, considerations and risks unique to a home-based environment. And as your Trusted Choice® independent insurance agents, we want to remind you that designing proper protection encompassing both those common and unique risks requires ongoing communication and review of your current insurance and risk management programs.

Yet studies show that of the 11 million-plus home-based businesses, nearly 60% do not have insurance specifically recognizing and providing coverage for these unique risks. When asked about the reasons for this lack of additional insurance, business owners responded:

• They thought they were already properly covered by their personal insurance: 40%.
• They thought their business was too small to insure: 30%.
• They could give no specific reason: 20%.

The first assumption is demonstrably false. Standard homeowners policies are designed for personal exposures, not business. While there may be small areas or limits of coverage available for certain types of home-based businesses, the vast majority will find coverage severely limited or specifically excluded for business losses related to such common risks as theft, vehicle usage, employee injuries, or life/health/disability. The largest potential gap in proper coverage arises from the lack of liability protection for claims arising out of business activities, whether the claim occurs in the home or elsewhere.

The second assumption above is also wrong, and the third response, at a minimum, shows a dangerous lack of knowledge.

Starting a home-based business may be the first step on your road to successful
entrepreneurship. Whether your business ultimately remains in your home or grows into the need for outside facilities or a relocation, as your Trusted Choice® independent agents, we stand ready to be your ongoing valued partner. Schedule a time today to review your current or future business plans, and let us help you establish a comprehensive insurance and risk management program to protect what we both hope will be your most valuable growing asset.

You’re Not Home Alone in Business

The stereotype of a home-based business being about networking, consulting or holding sales parties has long been out-of-date. Today, the term can encompass everything from a one-person operation turning a hobby into an income to a major enterprise with dozens of employees. Here are a few facts from recent studies:

• Most home-based businesses — 67% — fall outside the traditional categories such as
freelancing, independent contracting, consulting and virtual assistance.
• Of all new businesses, 69% are started in a home.
• Three and a half years later, 59% of those new businesses are still operating from a
home.
• Home-based businesses that have employees: 75%.
• Women-owned businesses: 72% operate from home.
• Founders come from all age groups. Those planning to start a business include:
▪ 30.5% of young entrepreneurs.
▪ 25% of retirees.

Give one of our agents at West Town Insurance Agency a call at 252-368-4017 to see if you and your home based business are properly insured.

Sources:
Trusted Choice®
http://smallbiztrends.com/2013/07/home-based-businesses-startup.html
http://www.independentagent.com/News/PressReleases/Pages/2004/NA20040225120203.aspx

Flood Prevention and Safety

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Flood prevention and safety 

Almost anywhere it rains, it can flood. Even if you live in an area that you think isn’t at risk, preparation is just as critical as with other types of emergencies.

Before we get into how you can prevent, limit or react to flooding, it’s important to note that flood damage is typically not covered by your homeowners or renters insurance. There are specialized flood insurance programs that we at West Town Insurance Agency can discuss with you. Just contact us at (252) 368-4017 or info@westtownins.com for more information if you live in North Carolina.

 Preparing for a flood

The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends a number of steps to stay safe during emergencies and limit damage from flooding. You should:

Build an emergency kit for your family containing such items as drinking water and nonperishable food for each member of your family (two-week supply), flashlights,  a radio, extra batteries, a first-aid kit, necessary medications, personal hygiene items and copies of important documents.

Create a communication plan so family members can reach one another.

Elevate your furnace, water heater and electric panel in your home if live in an area with a high flood risk.

Consider installing “check valves” to prevent floodwater from backing up into the drains of your home.

If possible, construct barriers to stop floodwater from entering your home and seal basement walls with waterproofing compounds.

Acting during a flood

 If a flood is likely in your area, quick action may be necessary to protect your family and property. You should:

Get information from the radio or television.

Move immediately to higher ground if there is any possibility of a flash flood. Do not wait for instructions to move.

If you need to evacuate, secure your home and move essential items to an upper floor. Turn off utilities if instructed to do so, and disconnect electrical appliances. However, do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.

Do not walk through moving water — it can make you fall. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.

Do not drive into flooded areas. If you are caught in your vehicle in floodwater, abandon your car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely.

If you have evacuated your home, do not return until authorities tell you it is safe.

Coping after a flood

 Flooding can cause emotional stress along with physical hazards, so be mindful of the well-being of you and your family during the aftermath.

Floodwater can be contaminated by oil, gasoline or sewage, so avoid contact as much as possible.

Make sure your city’s water supply is safe to drink.

Clean and disinfect everything that was in contact with floodwater.

The Red Cross has a free book available called “Repairing Your Flooded Home,” which contains useful information as you clean up. It’s available at www.redcross.org. Of course, don’t hesitate to contact us as well — we’re ready to help!

If you have flood insurance, contact the claims center of your provider as soon as possible.

Flooding is one of the most common hazards in the U.S. Being prepared for any emergency is crucial for the safety of you and your family. Don’t be caught off guard!

Flood Insurance Quote

If you would like a Free Flood Insurance Quote, submit the following information and one of our agents will contact you.

School Sports Safety

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7 Tips to Help Keep Student Athletes Safe

Your household may be one of the millions this fall in which student athletes are dreaming of victory on their school playing fields. Of course, we here at West Town Insurance Agency want to see them succeed, but we also want them to be safe.

So, here are seven tips for students, parents and school staff to keep in mind as the new season gets underway:

  1. Start off on the right foot: All athletes need a preseason physical and should share any medical conditions, such as sickle cell trait, with coaches. And, parents, don’t forget to provide your contact information and permission for emergency medical care.
  2. Think about nutrition: A healthy diet offers plenty of complex carbohydrates, plus moderate amounts of protein, salt, sugars and sodium. Keep fat, saturated fat and cholesterol to a minimum.
  3. Be smart about injuries: Athletic trainers and consulting physicians, not coaches, should decide whether athletes continue playing following an injury. Athletic staff needs to know how to use defibrillators and keep them nearby during both practice and games. Finally, athletes should always speak up about and seek medical attention for such symptoms as dizziness, memory loss, lightheadedness, fatigue or imbalance after a hit in the head or a fall. In most cases, they should not rejoin practice or play that same day.
  4. Maintain equipment and facilities: Helmets and pads should be properly fitted; gymnastic apparatus well-maintained. Facilities must be kept clean and checked for germs regularly.
  5. Warm up, cool down: Always warm up and stretch before beginning activities. Cool down and stretch when finished, and take plenty of breaks in between.
  6. Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water (costly sports drinks aren’t usually necessary) before, during and after a workout or practice.
  7. Build up a heat tolerance: To avoid heat illnesses, especially in sports requiring protective equipment, start slowly and build up to more intensive training requiring the full gear.

We hope these tips help set up your student athletes for success this season. We’ll be rooting for them!

Tornado truths that can help you stay safe

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Tornadoes have caused severe and irreparable damage to tens of thousands of Americans and their property in recent years. On top of the physical and emotional fallout, many have also lost their lives as a direct result of a tornado.

Although you can never control the weather or the outcome of a destructive storm, there are steps you can take to help you and your family remain protected in the event of a tornado. Those steps of action begin with knowing fact from myth.

Here are a few tornado truths that could help keep you and those you love safe:

  • When indoors, shut all windows and doors. Do not leave them open in an attempt to follow the mythical need to “pressurize” your home because the result would more likely be debris flying through the window and causing severe harm, or wind pressure working to lift the roof off the house from the inside.
  • If you are inside your home or other structure, retreat to the lowest level (a basement is ideal) or the room closest to the middle of the home or farthest from windows and doors. Do not seek a “corner” of the structure for your retreat; instead, go to the center-most point, away from windows and anything heavy that could fall on your head.
  • If you’re outdoors, find the lowest spot, such as a ditch or dry river bed, and lie flat on your stomach, covering the back of your head with your hands. Do not follow the myth of seeking shelter underneath a bridge or overpass because it could collapse on top of you or large debris and winds could come rushing underneath and potentially sweep you up into the tornado itself.
  • If you are in a vehicle, abandon the vehicle and try to find shelter in a structure or outdoors in a low place where you should lay stomach-down and cover the back of your head with your hands. Most importantly, do not attempt to drive away from the storm unless it’s very obviously far away and moving in the opposite direction.
  • Do not take shelter near a road or foothill and expect the tornado to miss you. Some myths say that tornadoes will reverse their directions when nearing a road or foothill, but a tornado doesn’t discriminate and will keep on its path.
  • Keep head gear handy. Head protection can be the number-one most important factor in remaining protected from flying debris—indoors or outdoors—so know where bike, football, batting, boxing and other helmets are in the house, and make them easily accessible.

At West Town Insurance Agency, we want to help you know the tornado truths that will help keep you and your family safe. For more tornado safety tips, visit the Storm Prediction Center’s comprehensive guide at http://www.spc.noaa.gov/faq/tornado/safety.html.

 Contact Us!

 At West Town Insurance Agency, we can work with you to make sure you’ve got the coverage you need, while at the same time using all possible credits and discounts to make that coverage affordable. Just give us a call at 252-368-4017 or send us a note at info@westtownins.com. We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is protected!

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