The Benefits of Flood Insurance

As we make our way through Spring and into the Summer months, the last thing on your mind may be how to protect your home from the threat of natural disasters. Unfortunately, with warm weather and beach days comes the possibility of tropical storms, torrential downpours, and other weather-related occurrences. Even if you live in an area prone to droughts, you’ve still got tornadoes, sandstorms, lightning… the list goes on. As a savvy homeowner, you already have a great start to protecting your property by having homeowners insurance. But what happens when you have a flood in your home? Though it may be an afterthought to many, any house – regardless of whether or not you’re in a floodprone location – is susceptible to flooding. In fact, homeowners are at a higher risk for flooding than any other type of home-related disaster, including fire damage. So what can you do to protect your investment?

Although you can make upgrades to your home to protect it against flooding, the easiest thing you can do is to purchase flood insurance. If you are a first-time homeowner, flood insurance may not be at the top of your priority list. However, if you live in an area that is prone to high bouts of rain, flood insurance is an excellent safety net to have. Aside from natural events, flood insurance also covers you for other aquatic calamities, such as a pipe burst in your home’s water system.

Many homeowners assume that their regular homeowners insurance policy will cover them from any kind of harm to their house, including water damage. While this is true for instances where water damage comes from a leaky roof or a broken window during a storm, more severe impairments caused by water may not be covered. If a significant amount of water enters your home, especial water that starts from underneath the home and rises, most insurance companies will require you to have a separate flood insurance policy.

Like any other insurance, there are many options when it comes to flood insurance. Some policies cover your home, while others cover your home and the belongings inside of it. A flood insurance policy with minimum coverage is ordinarily enough for most homeowners. However, if your home has a high value, it would be wise to purchase additional coverage so that your investment is fully protected.

For more information on flood damage, or to find out more about the flood insurance policies available to you, feel free to contact us today! You can never be too prepared to protect your home.

Basic Home Maintenance Tips for First-Time Homeowners

In a perfect world everything in life would come with an instruction manual – including your house! However in our imperfect world, we sometimes have to rely on information from others to help us navigate certain situations. This is especially true when it comes to owning your first home. So where do you start?

Listed below are some basic home maintenance tips to help you get better acquainted with your residence. Our hope is that with these tips, you will be better equipped to to recognize when you can take care of home repairs and maintenance yourself, and when it is best to call in a professional.

Safety Precautions

  • Place smoke detectors in strategic places around your home. Some areas that should be covered by a smoke detector include bedroom entryways, the kitchen area (away from the stove), and the living room. Generally, the best place to put a detector is 12” from the ceiling on the wall.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors. Carbon monoxide (CO), known as a “silent killer”, is an odorless, colorless gas. You may know it best as the fume that comes out of the exhaust pipe from your car, but it can also come from other sources. Inhaling it could cause extreme sickness and death. There should be at least 1 CO detector on each floor of your home. They should be tested, at minimum, once a month and be replaced per manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Have fire extinguishers readily available, especially in your kitchen. Learn how to use, maintain, and inspect each fire extinguisher monthly. An easy way to remember how to use a fire extinguisher is to remember the acronym PASS:
    • P – Pull the pin in the handle
    • A – Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire
    • S – Squeeze the lever slowly
    • S – Sweep from side to side
  • Have a plan of action ready when disaster strikes. Whether it’s escaping a fire or staying safe from a storm, your family should have a basic idea of what to do when a disaster occurs. Create escape routes and have emergency supplies and contact lists ready and in a safe area. Know what shelters are in your area, and become familiar with evacuation routes you can take if you need to leave your home.

Items That Should Be Inspected Regularly

  • Your roof – The roof of your home should be inspected twice a year. Worn flashings, missing shingles and loose seams can cause bigger issues in your house if not taken care of in a timely manner.
  • The chimney – If you have a chimney, it should be inspected once a year and cleaned regularly regardless of how often it is used.
  • Your electrical system – The best times to check your electrical system are if you’ve recently purchased your home, when you install new appliances, after completing a renovation, or if your home was built more than 40 years ago. Look out for damaged/discolored/warm cords, and switches or outlets that make buzzing noises. Also make sure all kitchen appliance cords are away from hot surfaces.
  • Pests – Once a year have a state-licensed pest control company inspect your home for termites or other wood-hungry critters.
  • Air Conditioner – Your heating, air conditioning, and ventilation (HVAC) system should be inspected twice a year. Spring and Fall are the best times to schedule these inspections with a qualified HVAC contractor.
  • Gutters – Clean your gutters at least two times a year. This will keep them functioning and prevent water damage to your home.
  • Sewer line – Depending on what kind of sewer system you have in your home, a licensed plumber should inspect and clean it once a year.
  • Landscaping – To prevent damage to your home or injury to a friend, family member, or visitor, be sure your hedges are trimmed and remove bushes or trees with exposed roots.

Above all else, the easiest and best way to protect your home is to have a complete home owners insurance policy. A complete insurance package will protect your biggest investment from things such as theft, flood, or hurricane damage.

Contact us today to learn more about our services and to find the best homeowners insurance policy for you.

The Best Plants for Pest Control

One of the greatest things about Spring is that nature sheds its dull winter layers in favor of a more colorful display. Though plants and flowers are usually beautiful to look at, they can also be useful at keeping away certain pests from your home. Next time you are looking for ways to change up your landscaping, consider adding some of these plants to your shopping list.

Lavender

While lavender has a reputation for its soothing scent and stunning purple hue, it can also be extremely useful at repelling a myriad of pests including fleas, flies, scorpions and moths. The most common type of lavender grown is English lavender, and it grows best in dry, well-drained, sandy, or gravelly soils. The best location to place lavender is somewhere it can get direct sunlight.

Lemongrass

Lemongrass – also known as citronella grass – has many diverse uses. It is utilized in the creation of many Asian dishes, as well as used for its medicinal properties in India. It can be brewed for tea, used to enhance the flavor of various meats, and its oil has anti-fungal properties. Lemongrass oil also has the ability to repel some pests such as mosquitoes, while attracting other insects such as honey bees. Citronella oil is also commonly used as an ingredient in making mosquito-repellent candles and sprays.

Spearmint

With its fresh smell and flavor, spearmint is an excellent choice to have around your home. Though this plant prefers partial shade, it can grow in any type of sun exposure ranging from mostly shady to direct sunlight. While it repels moths, rodents, and aphids, it is best to grow spearmint in a pot or planter, as it has rhizomes instead of traditional roots. Rhizomes are underground stems that typically grow just under the soil and grow horizontally, and in this case can disrupt the growth of other plants around the spearmint if planted in the ground.

Marigold

Another plant that is not only pretty but has repellent properties is the marigold. Marigolds are easy to grow and have a strong scent that can help keep mosquitoes and rabbits away. They are also great for insects that pollinate, such as bees and butterflies. Though marigolds are typically known for their gold hue, they can also come in shades of red, orange, and multi-colored!

Narcissus

The narcissus, whose various names include daffodil and jonquil, has flowers with six petal-like tepals and a trumpet-shaped corona. Its flowers are generally white or yellow, but can also come in pink or orange. Narcissi are not incredibly sensitive to soil conditions, though they thrive in soil that is slightly acidic. Aside from having pretty flowers, the narcissus is handy for repelling moles which can dig holes all over your yard.

Now that you have some ideas on how to help keep annoying pests away, the easiest way to make sure your home is protected is to have a comprehensive homeowners insurance package. Contact us today for more information or to request a quote!