Follow These Halloween Safety Tips for an Un-Scary Night

Halloween safety tip tales have long included horror stories of razor-filled caramels and egg-tossing teenagers. As your friendly insurance advisors, we’re sorry to report that the list of potential All Hallows Eve havoc does not end there. Things that go bump in the night can lead to scary claims – and, just to be clear, those ‘things’ are people. Read below as we share how to keep your Halloween as free from risk as possible. We’ll even throw in a few COVID-specific guidelines.

Remember: The scariest thing you can encounter going ‘bump in the night’ October 31 isn’t that horror flick marathon you insist on watching. It’s the ‘L’ word, also known as lawsuit. The travesty of Halloween night should be that your child doesn’t share enough of their chocolate stash, not that you’re calling your insurance advisor at 10pm to check coverage limits.

Therefore, we advise you do the following long before you stock up on bags of candy for all those trick or treaters. Start with these.

Check your potential tripping hazards.

  • There is little more terrifying than realizing that the little goblin or Star Wars character laid out in your yard is screaming in pain. Before Halloween night arrives, walk the routes children will take to arrive at your doorstep. If there are any holes in the lawn or wonky stepping stones, address those.
  • Nix the fog machine if it elicits confusion. If children can’t see their gloved hand in front of their face, the fog is too thick. You’re not setting a mood – you’re setting a hazard.

Say NO to hosting a haunted house in the age of COVID-19

  • We know that this is an especially difficult suggestion to follow. The pandemic has inspired so many potential horror vignettes (people without masks! Less than six feet apart in social situations)! Even if yours is the house that usually invites the neighborhood inside for creative scares, forego it this year. The risk of COVID is just too high.
  • In the future, know that charging admission to your own haunted house could lead to it being viewed as a business – with the accompanying risks. Our advice? -Don’t do it.

Look where you’re placing those pumpkins. And life-size grim reapers. And….you get the idea.

  • That skeleton in the middle of the driveway is destined to scare the pants off some kid, so goal achieved! We applaud your attention to location, really, but said kid could also be seriously hurt in this situation. Move the skeleton to a more well-lit area.
  • While you’re at it, it’s worth noting that a real fire is not to be considered a scare success. Check your electrical outlets. Don’t overload them. And if you select decorations that contain lights, check to ensure they are safe.
  • If a decoration contains a light source, don’t place anything over it. That goes with black paper, towels, etc. Looking for ambience? Consider a colored light bulb. Simply screw it into a normal light outlet and, voila! Instant creepiness. We suggest the lights that give off a rosy glow. Unexpected….and simultaneously foreboding.

Remember that this is Halloween with a pandemic twist.

  • Even if you don’t normally host the scariest haunted house walk-through on the block, this isn’t the time to invite neighbors inside for spiked apple cider. Respect social distance guidelines. Hand out candy yourself, instead of allowing all those little hands to grope around in the bowl for the biggest piece. And follow up the visit with a squirt of hand sanitizer (for the trick or treater and yourself).
  • Organize a bike parade. This really only works if the neighborhood understands what’s going on – otherwise, you and your kids will just get exercise without the candy. A bike parade allows for social distancing and allows everyone to wear those cute costumes they’ve been planning for months. Neighbors stand on driveways and throw candy while people cycle by. It’s really that simple.
  • Set up a table at the end of your own driveway and decorate it. You’ll be able to control how close people interact, keep those sticky hands out of your treat bucket, and still participate in the holiday to the fullest.
  • Stuff a pinata with your household’s favorite candy and let the kids pummel it. There you have a win-win: no undue coronavirus exposure, plus all the candy the kids collect will go in the ‘keep’ pile.

Before the big BOO day, talk with your insurance advisor about your homeowners and umbrella policies. Being prepared this year for Halloween means so much more than just purchasing bags of candy. The same Halloween safety tips apply as always – with some extra COVID precautions thrown in for good measure.

Your Home: A Water Damage Time Bomb

Keep Dry With This Action Plan

Water damage can be a real drain. Protect your home and your pocketbook by opting for the right water damage coverage and addressing potential threats. Proactive “waterproofers” save themselves the expense and headache that comes with an unwelcome deluge. Keep the wet away from your Welcome mat by completing essential home maintenance essential to loss prevention. Below, we’ll examine the common sources for home water damage and how you can prevent excess H20.

  • Roofing: Plenty of water damage risks don’t involve torrential rainfall or wind. Homeowners are often surprised to learn that maintaining their roof is only one element of protection – but it is of course an important one. Give yours a birthday present by having a professional roof inspector examine it every year. This professional will spot suspect shingles, crumbling flashing and other elements that can put you at risk for leaks.
  • Plumbing: Plumbing in general should be treated as a valuable home element. If you see corrosion, condensation or leaks emanating from plumbing anywhere in your home, act immediately. Here’s a hint: If your water bill suddenly spikes, you may well have a malfunctioning plumbing element.
  • Sump Pump: Heading out on vacation? Avoid a surprise ‘gift’ upon your return home by turning off your main water supply line. Since sump pumps can fail for a variety of reasons, it’s a solid strategy. Take the time to inspect those. Clogged inlet screens and float switches can yield problems. Remember to take a look at the outside pipes and watch for that water flow – it should occur away from the home.
  • Water Heater: Five years is the magic number for these home elements. After age five, water heaters are much more likely to burst. Flush yours of sediment twice annually. And once a year after that five year point, ask a professional plumber to take a look at the anode rod, which will inevitably eventually deteriorate. And remember: no hot shower is worth the amount of damage that water heaters can cause if compromised.
  • Toilet: Anyone who has ever experienced a toilet overflow will tell you that it’s not a pleasant experience. It’s also unfortunately a common one. A backed-up toilet can wreak plenty of havoc on wood floors and baseboards; plus, it’s downright gross. How’s that flush mechanism working? Ask that question and answer it every six months. If you need to replace the flapper or film valve, do so. Also, giving the supply line some TLC every six months or so will keep that water flowing where it’s supposed to.
  • Sink: Faulty plumbing lines, thou art evil. When they deteriorate, these lines and the damage they cause can cost a homeowner approximately $7,000. Faulty plumbing lines are the big risk factor in a sink. Inspect it every six months, and if you don’t know where the water supply shutoff line is, go find it immediately.
  • Washing Machine: This one’s an obvious risk. After all, it has ‘water’ in the name! What you should really be on the lookout for here is water supply lines. Every six months, take a look at it. Is it secured correctly? Is it looking worse for the wear?
  • Ice Maker: That supply line can really be a doozy. If an icemaker is not properly installed, that supply line hose can fail. The result of such an incident is a watery mess and inevitable damage. Again, every six months should be a good adage for inspection.

It doesn’t take a lot of time or energy to do quick checkups on water hoses and the like. Schedule these ‘visits’ in your calendar and adhere to them. Putting off inspection of potential water damage sources can prove a costly mistake. Additionally, contact your insurance advisor to discuss whether you need increased water damage coverage. Different elements such as age of the home can increase your risk.

Remember: Your insurance policy is designed to cover you for sudden and accidental loss not otherwise excluded in the policy form. It is not a home maintenance policy. By understanding your coverage and doing your part to maintain your home, you’ll earn an A+ in water damage prevention.

Request a review of your current coverage

At W3, our advisors are committed to helping you understand the protection provided by your policy and making sure that it works for you. Contact us! We’ll review your options and put a watertight plan in place.

Storm Preparation for Golf Clubs Tees Off Here – Before the Storm, There’s W3

You can’t prevent a severe storm from affecting your club, but you can put an effective risk management program in place to reduce the total impact. Mitigate loss from claims and protect resources and assets. It’s worth the preparation time. Remember: loss history affects your club’s risk profile and premiums over a period of 3-5 years.

Here are a few tips to improve the outcome of a loss:

  • Where there’s a heavy storm, there’s bound to be tree debris. Subcontract professionals to handle the day–to –day pruning and removal of dead limbs. This action will have a positive impact on your workers compensation exposure and ensure your trees are not top-heavy or excessively tall.
  • Limit your claims submission to what is needed. For example, if your club loses 100 trees but 50 of them are located in a wooded area away from the course, only file claims for trees which truly need replacing. This will improve your loss ratio and thus improve your marketplace risk profile.
  • Evaluate potential exposures to flying objects. If necessary, consider adding storm shelters or hurricane (tempered) glass to mitigate future losses.
  • Consider a backup generator. Significant power outages can occur during these events; clubs need to consider additional losses such as food spoilage.

Ready to take proactive measures for your club? Contact W3. The W3 Club Advantage team will help your club conduct a vulnerability analysis to evaluate probable threats. Together, we will then prepare a disaster program which can be implemented before, during, and after a severe weather event.

Implementing a disaster response plan is critical to your club’s ability to respond to a severe weather event. This plan should include emergency contacts, disaster procedures and communications, alternate vendors and suppliers, and steps for recovery. It should also have employee information as well as necessary passwords and codes for technology – essentially, everything needed to expedite re-opening.

The W3 Club Advantage program addresses all exposures your club could face in the event of a catastrophic event. For more information about the W3 Club Advantage, contact Hospitality Risk Practice Leader David Cosper at 727.522.7777 ext. 110, email dcosper@w3ins.com or compete the form below.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage?

Flooding from a Hurricane If you’re asking, “Does homeowners insurance cover water damage?” we sincerely hope that you are not already ankle-deep in H2O. Answering the water damage coverage question is nuanced; whether your homeowners insurance will cover water damage depends on a number of factors. Let’s dive in.

Types of Water Damage Commonly Covered by Homeowners Insurance

From overflowing dishwashers to water damage after a fire, the following items are typically covered by homeowners insurance.  

Plumbing – Burst pipes, resulting damage from faulty work and accidental overflow are usually covered. 
Fire – Extinguishing a blaze demands water to douse the flames. The resulting damage will be covered.
Leaky roof – Sorry to all those who were looking to get a new house-topper! While repairs needed due to leaks from lack of maintenance or wear and tear are not covered, if the wind removes a portion or all of your roof and lets the rain inside, your home insurance responds.
Accidental overflow – Should an appliance or fixture malfunction, you are likely in luck regarding recompense. This is one of those classic “thank goodness I purchased insurance” moments when the damage is an absolute surprise. Be aware that some policies limit or exclude water damage. Check your policy for specific terms and conditions.
Mold – When left undetected long enough, mold can pose a significant respiratory hazard. If mold is the result of a covered water damage loss, eradication expenses will be paid. Policy limits for water damage and mold coverage will vary depending on your policy form. This is another important reason to review your policy each year and to speak with your personal insurance advisor if you have questions.
Vandalism – The creative list of possibilities in this category is endless. Luckily, your homeowners insurance will most likely cover the damages. 

Types of Water Damage Not Covered by Homeowners Insurance

Now for the not-so-great news: Not all water damage is covered by homeowners insurance. Here are a few items that are not. 
Ground seepage – When rain falls to the ground, it doesn’t travel straight down. It moves underground and sometimes resurfaces in low-lying home areas. Damages from ground seepage are not covered by homeowners insurance. 
Poorly maintained pipes – You are held to a certain level of care regarding your home. If those pipes are exceedingly old or the repair work on them is shoddy, your coverage is likely not going to help you.
Water or sewer pipe backup – Avoid this scenario by keeping your pipes in good working order.
Flooding (rising surface water) – This comes as a surprise to many, but damage from rising surface water will not be covered by homeowners insurance. 

Why Flood Insurance is so Important for Florida Homeowners

Repeat the following adage as many times as it’s necessary to convince yourself that flood insurance is a necessary protection: Everyone lives in a flood zone. Even if you don’t have a view of the Gulf, you are still susceptible to nature-led flooding. Let’s talk hurricanes. Florida is the ultimate tourist destination for hurricanes, and these unwelcome storms bring massive flood potential with them. We also live in a state with massive rainfalls. These events can happen anywhere and at any time. Lastly, storm surge and tidal waters can easily flood or even level an entire home.

Not Sure if You’re Covered? Ask Your W3 Advisor.

At W3 Insurance, our advisors know protection. Specifically, our team understands the nuances of flood coverage and can direct you to the policy that is right for you. Before the flood, there’s W3. Contact us for a review of your current policy or to elect new coverage.

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