How to Prepare a Disaster Kit in The Treasure Valley

How to Put Together an At-Home Emergency Kit

Be Prepared with a Custom-Built Supplies Kit.

How to Prepare a Disaster Kit in The Treasure Valley Fall is a great time to consider disaster preparedness and to take a look at your family’s emergency kit. While disasters can happen anywhere, whether natural or man-made, it is important that your family be prepared.

For many, the thought of having a disaster preparedness kit in their home seems silly and unnecessary. The fact of the matter is that every state in our country is susceptible to a natural disaster such as an earthquake, tornado or hurricane, flood or even a volcanic eruption. Preparing for one of these events can be quick and inexpensive, but also a great time to educate your family about safety during one of these events.

The basic home preparedness kit, according to ready.gov should include:

  • Water – 1 gallon per person, per day. Minimum 3 day supply.
  • Food – non-perishable food such as canned tuna, canned fruits & vegetables, nuts, dried fruit, low sodium crackers, soups. Also, dry mixes that do not require refrigeration. Store food in tightly closed containers to extend it’s shelf life and protect from pests. Change food & water supplies every six months to keep fresh supplies.
  • Battery powered radio for emergency information
  • Flashlight with extra sets of batteries. (Consider an LED flashlight that requires much less energy to use)
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust masks, plastic sheeting and duct tape to seal off an area from contaminants
  • Moist towelettes for simple hygiene
  • A manual can opener and pocket knife
  • Cell phone w/ solar charger of some sort

Additional items could include prescription medicines, diapers, pet food and blankets. Keep this kit in a designated area where your entire family can easily find it.

The Insurance Group was formed to provide you with one-on-one attention for all of your insurance requests in the Treasure Valley. Visit us or call one of our convenient locations in Weiser, Fruitland, Emmett, Cascade or Ontario for auto, home, farm & ranch or business insurance. Our insurance website is open 24/7 to serve you and you can request an insurance quote right through the site. We look forward to serving you! 

Insuring Comic Books, Antiques, Fine Art and more

Are Your Collectibles Covered by Insurance?

Insuring Comic Books, Fine Art, Antiques & More

Insuring Comic Books, Antiques, Fine Art and moreSo, you’ve got an Amazing Fantasy #15 comic book – the first appearance of Stan Lee’s Spider Man in a safe from when you were just a kid. What you probably know is that this item can be worth tens of thousands of dollars, but what you probably don’t understand is what happens if that item is lost, stolen or destroyed by a disaster in your home.

Many of us acquire valuable items from inheritance, being collectors or investment purposes throughout our lives. Perhaps you received a valuable old watch, or received an expensive engagement ring. Often time people assume that these collectibles will simply be covered by your standard home insurance policy as a covered item. What is important to understand about insuring these items is that your standard home insurance policy has specific limits for these valuable items. Typically around $1500, but this amount varies between companies. So, if you have a watch worth $10,000 you’ll have a gap of $8500. What you need to talk to your insurance agent about is getting something called a “floater.” A floater is a type of insurance policy that allows you to insure a specific item. One way to remember a floater is that the items it covers tend to be able to float away (be carried away). Thus, increasing the chances of theft or damage.

Some valuable items to consider adding to a floater include:

  • Watches
  • Rings, necklaces and other jewelry
  • Art
  • Furs
  • Historical Documents
  • Comic Books
  • Antiques
  • Expensive electronics

While they may not have an expansive comic book collection or a one-of-a-kind fur coat from the 30’s, if you have questions about your home or renters insurance, call the insurance agents at The Insurance Group. We were formed to provide you with one-on-one attention for all of your insurance requests in the Treasure Valley. Visit us or call one of our convenient locations in Weiser, Fruitland, Emmett, Cascade or Ontario for auto, home, farm & ranch or business insurance. Our insurance website is open 24/7 to serve you and you can request an insurance quote right through the site. We look forward to serving you!

Farm Ranch Insurance Treasure Valley, ID

Questions to ask your Insurance Group Agent

Before you sign off on your homeowners policy, make sure you know what’s being covered. Many policies fail to cover basic disasters, while other may offer extras that you didn’t know about. Here are six key questions to ask an agent to make sure a policy is right for you.

Which disasters are covered?

The number one reason people cough up their monthly premiums is to ensure that their homes are protected against major catastrophes. But in the eyes of your insurance policy, not all disasters are created equally. Many people find out too  late that they weren’t covered for earthquake damage, hurricanes or floods, which are rarely covered by a standard policy. Before you sign up for a policy, make sure you know what’s going to be covered.

Does it cover pests?

It’s not just the big disasters than can ruin a home. Tiny pests are just as likely to wreak havoc, and unfortunately, these critters often aren’t covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy. Termites are one of the biggest threats for homeowners, which can secretly hollow out the home from within. Homeowners often fail to discover the damage until the problem is pretty extensive, which is when they also find out that their insurance doesn’t cover repairs to the home or extermination. Bed bugs, mice and other infestations also aren’t usually covered — insurance companies categorize these as “preventable problems” and say it’s a homeowner’s job to keep critters at bay. But if you’re willing to pay a little extra, you can usually buy extra coverage to protect yourself against pests.

Does it cover mold?

A rampant mold infestation can be a disgusting discovery that requires an expensive clean up. Unfortunately most homeowners policies don’t cover this problem. For the most part, insurance companies treat mold problems the same way they treat pests: a preventable problem that can be fixed with a little day-to-day maintenance. For instance, if you failed to fix a leaky sink, which caused mold to flourish, then you’re most likely out of luck. But there are some instances where you may be covered with a standard policy. If a sewage backup causes you basement to flood, your insurance might pick up the bill for the water damage and subsequent mold removal.

Does the policy include liability insurance?

A good insurance policy doesn’t just cover your home, it also protects your if someone gets injured while on your property. If a delivery guy slips and falls on your icy front steps, or a tree limb comes crashing down onto a neighbor’s roof, you can be held liable. That’s why it’s important to ask about liability insurance when deciding on a policy.

What’s my rebuilding cost?

When buying homeowners insurance, many people make the mistake of getting too little insurance to cover the home. There can be a big difference between what your home is currently worth, and what it would cost to completely rebuild it. To start with, you need to know what your rebuilding cost will be, and most insurance agents will help you do the calculations to figure that out. Once you have that sum, you’ll need to figure out how much insurance you can afford. The most expensive insurance will offer you 100 percent coverage, but some homeowners might prefer to chance it and only cover 80 or 90 percent of the rebuilding costs.

Who picks up the tab if I need to live elsewhere while the home is damaged or destroyed?

The money to rebuild is only one part of the cost when disaster strikes. If a fire or flood forces you from your home, you could end up spending thousands of dollars on hotel bills and restaurants while the place is being rebuilt. However, many policies will cover some or all of these costs, which in insurance terms often appear under the headings “additional living expenses” or “loss of use costs.” While you might be covered for these expenses, there are often limits on these costs. The insurance company might only offer coverage for a certain number of days, or cap the total amount, which means you can be on the hook if the rebuilding process drags on and on. So make sure to ask about any restrictions on the additional living expenses.

http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2015/01/15/six-questions-for-your-insurance-agent/

Home Insurance Treasure Valley

7 Winter Tips for your Home and Car

Consider these items before winter arrives at your home and when you’re on the road, be extra cautious!

Home Insurance
* A visitor to your home slips and falls on your icy driveway or walkway

Standard homeowner’s insurance policies provide limited medical payments coverage if your visitor seeks medical attention. If the person sues you for additional damages, your standard homeowner’s insurance policy should provide liability coverage. Check with your insurance agent or company to be sure you have adequate liability limits. If you have purchased extra liability protection in the form of an umbrella policy, coverage may be provided by this policy as well.

* An ice or snow storm causes a tree to damage your house

Standard homeowner’s insurance policies generally provide coverage for damage to the home, less your deductible. In addition, the cost to remove the tree is typically covered up to a certain amount. Check your policy to find out what limit of coverage you have. However, your homeowner’s policy will likely not help you purchase a new tree.

* Presents are stolen from your home

Standard homeowner’s insurance policies provide coverage subject to the deductible and special sub limits for certain goods, such as currency and jewelry. For example, if the wrapped package was a $300 gift card to an electronics store, there might only be $200 of coverage. If the package contained $2,000 worth of jewelry, there might only be $1,500 of coverage. Check your homeowner’s policy for specific sub limits.

* Someone breaks your car’s window and steals gifts from inside

Standard homeowner’s and renter’s insurance policies provide coverage for the theft of gifts, subject to the policy deductible and coverage limits. Some auto policies also provide coverage. If this happens to you, talk with your insurance agent or company to find out which policy you should file your claim. If you have comprehensive coverage on your auto insurance policy, the cost to repair the window will be covered and may be subject to the deductible.

Auto Insurance

* A friend driving your car gets into an accident

Auto insurance coverage either follows the vehicle or the operator, so your car will generally be covered while your friend is driving. Policy language will determine if the owner or the operator’s policy is primary. However, if your friend slides off the road due to ice, and you only have liability coverage, there may not be coverage for any damage to the car itself. Check with your insurance agent or company to understand which policy is primary in this type of situation.

* You borrow someone else’s car with their permission, and get into an accident

The auto insurance policy on the borrowed vehicle may provide primary coverage in the event of a claim or your insurance policy may provide primary coverage. If no coverage exists on the borrowed car, your auto insurance policy might provide coverage. Talk with your insurance agent or company to find out if and how your auto insurance coverage will extend to a friend or non-residing family member’s car you plan on operating.

* You loan your car to a friend and they get pulled over for a moving violation

Your auto coverage may not be affected if another driver is ticketed for a driving violation. However, if the person to whom you loaned the vehicle has an accident while intoxicated, the company might non-renew your policy or charge a higher premium if your policy had to pay for the claim.

Holiday Tree Safety

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For many people, one of the most festive parts of the holiday season is having a fresh smelling pine tree, decorated with lights and ornaments, as the focal point of the home. While it brings joy to many, it can also introduce danger unless care is taken.

In the rush of excitement of the holidays, safety precautions are sometimes overlooked. It’s important to take the time to find a safe location for the tree, and set it up in a way so that it will not become a fire danger as the days and weeks go by.

A few tips include:

– Pick a fresh tree – they’re less of a hazard than dry trees. To check for freshness, try to bend a needle – fresh needles don’t break when bent.

– Water the tree daily throughout the holiday season to keep it fresh longer. This is especially important since it’s most likely located in a heated room, which will dry out the tree over time. Also keep your tree far away from fireplaces, heaters and radiators.

– Lighting. As you unpack your box of holiday decorations, you may find yourself grabbing the same strings of lights you used last year and possibly the year before! It’s important to carefully examine the cords and make sure there is no wear and tear. Also check to see that all the lights are working and no wires are exposed.

– Don’t fall! When decorating the top of a tall tree, or stringing lights across your windows, don’t use the arm of the sofa, or a wobbly side table to stand on. Bring in a step stool and use care.

– Don’t burn wrapping paper! It may be tempting to toss the gift wrapping paper right into the living room fireplace after opening a gift, but wrapping paper burns very hot and may create large flames. These flames can cause hot embers to blow into the home, or could ignite a chimney fire.

– How long should a tree stay up? As much as it becomes part of the home, with its lights giving the room a warm, cozy glow, a tree should be disposed of within 30 days of purchase. You can take your tree to a recycling center or have it picked up by a community service. Don’t burn the tree yourself, the needles burn very fast and hot, and could easily get out of your control.

Keeping a few of these tips in mind will help you enjoy and be safe this holiday season!

from Safeco and The Insurance Group

Fire Safety

An important message from the Idaho State Fire Marshal’s Office

BOISE ID (December 11, 2014) – The recent fire in Twin Falls that tragically claimed two young lives serves as a reminder to use extra caution when heating your home during the winter months. Especially at risk are homes heated with fireplaces, space heaters or any type of stove.

 

“Heating equipment is one of the leading causes of home fire deaths,” says Knute Sandahl, acting Idaho State Fire Marshal. “Most home heating fires could be prevented if people would follow a few simple safety tips and precautions.”

 

  • Keep flammable materials at least three feet away from heating equipment
  • Maintain a three foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters – keep pets away also
  • Never use your stove or oven to heat your home
  • Turn off portable heaters before leaving your home and before going to bed
  • Install smoke alarms and test them monthly
  • Any flame-producing appliance such as gas, wood-burning or pellet stoves; fireplaces; gas water heaters; etc. should have carbon monoxide detectors installed

 

Home fires occur more during the months of December, January and February than any other time of the year. Following these simple precautions could save a life.

Wildfire Prevention – winter version

I came across these tips on fire prevention and I thought “hey, that would be a good blog post for summer” but of course during the summer we are often too busy to bother with “helpful tips”.

So, here in the dark, dreary times of “pre” winter here are some tips on wildfire prevention to browse while setting in front of your roaring fire.

Questions and Answers on Wildfire Prevention

wildfire

Each year, wildfires claim lives, destroy homes and cause damage totaling hundreds of millions of dollars — or more.

 

The sad thing is that many of them are preventable, because, according to the National Park Service, many (if not most) wildfires are caused by humans. And even though we’re at the end of another summer, the arrival of fall doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods yet.

 

So whether you’re going on one last camping trip this year, you live in an area with lots of natural fuel or you’re just planning to burn some yard debris, here are some questions to ask yourself when you’re dealing with fire — anytime of year.

 

Q: What should I do before I start my fire?

A: First of all, make sure you follow all rules and regulations, whether it’s a campfire or any other kind of blaze — even on a campground barbecue. Don’t start any fire outside of areas deemed appropriate by local authorities. Keep a shovel and a water source nearby, such as a bucket for small fires and a working hose for larger ones.

 

Q: How can I be sure to keep my fire under control?

A: Again, knowing where you’re allowed to burn and where you aren’t is crucial. Clear any excess flammable material from the area so the fire doesn’t spread. And keep an eye on the weather forecast, too. Depending on certain factors, such as wind, it might not be a good idea to have a fire at all.

 

Q: What about putting my fire out?

A: Remember, if it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave, so make sure your fire is completely out before leaving the area. Pour lots of water on it to drown all embers, then stir and make sure everything is wet and cool to the touch. If you don’t have water, use dirt, but don’t bury the fire because it will continue to smolder. Mix dirt and sand with the embers and continue to stir.

 

Q: I don’t want to start a fire. How can I make sure I don’t?

A: Using a little common sense can play a big part in preventing wildfires. Don’t discard burning cigarettes or matches improperly, and be careful where you park your vehicles — heat from exhaust can ignite dry grass. Never use fireworks in an unapproved manner or area. And always keep an eye on your surroundings. If you see an unattended or out-of-control fire, call 911 or the local fire department immediately. We all have a role to play in preventing wildfires!

 

Angel Wings Network

Don’t forget the Angel Wings Network this holiday season.

Here is The Insurance Group and Safeco presenting the Angel Wings Network a check for $3500 as part of the Safeco – Make More Happen Program from earlier this year.

Angel-Wings-Check

Stress Free Holiday Cooking

thanksgiving

For many of you, planning is afoot for an amazing feast for your family, some of which you may only see this one time of year. So the stakes are high for that perfect, memorable dinner that will keep them coming back year after year.

Creating the “perfect” holiday dinner can also add a lot of stress to the season, with extra shopping, menu planning, cleaning and prepping added into the regular chores of the day. And this stress can not only take its toll physically, but can also cause a higher abundance of household accidents to occur in the kitchen, potentially the most dangerous room in the house. What other room has fire and knives, out in the open, for everyone to use? And when cooking in a rush, while doorbells are ringing and children are crying, it’s easy to forget the proper use of and placement for these potentially dangerous items.

So, a few tips for making it easier (and safer) this holiday season:

Simplify the menu – Think quality over quantity, and create the menu and shopping list ahead of time to limit last minute trips to the supermarket.

Organize your shopping to reduce stress – All of your canned items and liquor and pantry items can be purchased weeks ahead, so the last minute shopping should only be for fresh food items. This allows you to dodge the crowds and get in and out of the store quickly. We’ve all seen that overwhelmed person with an overfilled shopping cart and crying children lagging behind the night before a big holiday, don’t let this be you!

Ask for help! – Your friends and family want to help and spend time with you – this is where the memories are made. You don’t have to do it alone.

Be prepared – Know where your fire extinguisher is and how to use it!

Delegate responsibly – Avoid letting your tipsy Uncle deep fry the turkey. Fryers and grills are best kept to the sober expert.

Keep the little ones out of the kitchen – you may be too distracted to keep your eyes on them – and their little hands – away from the hot burners.

Just a little preparation ahead of time will help keep the stress levels low and the joy levels high!

from Safeco Insurance and The Insurance Group

5 Holiday Hosting Disasters and How to Avoid Them

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Take a look at the most common things that can go wrong when you have guests and learn how to prevent them.

Imagine you’re preparing to host your annual holiday party, and you’re past the point of no return. The veggies and meats have been bought. Guests are already braving busy airports and crowded highways to get to your home—and then your oven won’t turn on. Your home-cooked meal has quickly turned into a microwave dinner.

That’s just one of many hosting nightmares that can end your holiday party before it even begins. Thankfully, some of the most damaging mishaps easily can be avoided. We collected five of the most prevalent issues and give you preventative tips to keep your holiday party on track.

Problem: The oven doesn’t heat

For any holiday occasion, the oven is the most important appliance in your house. If it fails to work, the centerpiece of your meal could go from roasted beef, ham, duck, or Tofurky to Peking Duck from the local Chinese takeout joint.

How to avoid:

  • There are any number of reasons a stove can break, but one common cause of disaster is easy to prevent. Don’t self-clean your oven until AFTER the holidays. You risk blowing a fuse or a thermostat, and tracking down an oven technician around the holidays can be tough.

Problem: The kitchen sink clogs

The day after Thanksgiving is the busiest of the year for plumbers. The prime cause of this clog-a-thon is the mistreatment of drains when cooking holiday feasts. We hope your Thanksgiving went well, and that you avoid clog-a-thons for the rest of the holidays.

How to avoid:

  • Fats and cooking oils can solidify in your pipes, so never dispose of them in your kitchen sink.
  • If you have a garbage disposal, make sure it’s running before anything goes in it, and never feed it any stringy, fibrous, or starchy foods like poultry skins or potato peels.
  • To fix, don’t rely on chemical drain-clearing products that can harm your pipes. Use a snake instead, available for $15 at your local hardware store. Best to keep one on hand.

Problem: The heat goes out

As the party’s host, you’re supposed to hang guests’ coats—not apologize to them for having to keep them on. A lack of heat can stop a holiday party dead in its tracks.

How to avoid:

  • The key to avoiding freezing your party to a standstill is regular maintenance of your HVAC. Every 90 days, a new one-inch pleated furnace filter should be installed. If you haven’t done it in a while, now’s a good time to replace it.
  • Also inspect insulation on refrigerant lines that are leading into your house. Replace them if they’re missing or damaged.

Problem: The toilet stops up

Toilets have a way of clogging up at the worst times, such as during parties and when you have overnight guests. This is especially true if you have a low-flow toilet from the early 1990s.

How to avoid:

  • Don’t flush anything other than sewage and toilet paper down the toilet. And there’s nothing wrong with putting up a polite note to remind your guests to do the same.

Problem: The fridge doesn’t cool

Without a properly functioning refrigerator, your meat could get contaminated, your dairy-based treats could go sour, and you may not be able to save your yummy leftovers. To avoid discovering a warm fridge after it’s too late, take these simple precautions.

How to avoid:

  • Get a thermometer for your refrigerator to make sure each shelf stays below 40 degrees and you can be aware of any temperature changes.
  • Also make sure the condenser coils located on the back of the unit or beneath it are free to breathe. Coils blocked from circulating air by cereal boxes atop the fridge, or dirtied by dust or pet hair can prevent a fridge from keeping cool.