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You Need Renters Insurance!

Okay, so you don’t own the house or apartment you live in, but you own the items inside, right? Your bed, the television you watch, the computer you’re using to read this; all belong to you or someone who lives in the house. So why not make sure you can afford to replace these things in the event something happens.

Sure you may think, “Meh, all my stuff is old and broken down. It’s not worth insuring.”

Also known as Tenant insurance protects your stuff! Let us help you get the insurance you need!
Also known as Tenant insurance protects your stuff! Let us help you get the insurance you need!

It may be old and not in the best shape, but it’s still useable. Also, just because you don’t think something is worth much, doesn’t mean someone won’t steal it. Now, imagine how much it would cost to replace your old stuff. All of it.

That insurance is sounding better and better, isn’t it?

Renters insurance is pretty inexpensive. Sure you might have to give up a latte or two — a month — to afford it, but isn’t going without caffeine worth the peace of mind of knowing that if your landlord’s “trick” to fixing the breaker box is unsuccessful and the building catches fire, all your worldly possessions can be replaced?

Get renters insurance.

Please.

Thank you.

Wildfires are Scary so I have Home Insurance

I do not have to worry about wildfires destroying my home because I have a home insurance policy . My agent recommended that I made sure I asked for replacement cost of my home , not the cash value of my home . My policy will cover fires inside and outside the home such as a wildfire.

I live in a zone of the United States that is prone to wildfires, so I had my agent and an endorsement to my basic policy for additional coverage. This costs me only pennies more per month , and I am secure in the knowledge that I am well covered .

My homeowner’s policy will pay for living expenses while my home is rebuilt or repaired . If there is a wildfire in my area and the fire does not damage my home , but the smoke and soot did damage my policy will pay for repairs and cleanup.

Be sure you have the right homeowners insurance to protect your home from wildfires
Be sure you have the right homeowners insurance to protect your home from wildfires

This wildfire endorsement will cover over and above of what my basic coverage pays . This policy does state that it will not pay for extraordinary circumstances such as a, bar-b-q gone wrong , or a fire pit not constructed safely resulting in major damage to my home .

How to use a fire extinguisher

How to use a fire extinguisher

In the event of a fire, you may be required to use a fire extinguisher. It is important to understand what type of fire extinguisher to use, when to use it, and how to use it. To learn more, click the appropriate links below.

Fight or flee

Your safety is most important when it comes to extinguishing a fire. If you are unsure about whether it is safe to fight the fire, you should leave the scene and let the fire department handle it.

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Fire extinguisher basics

Understanding how a fire forms and how a fire extinguisher operates can help you fight a fire more effectively.

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Types of fire extinguishers

There are different types of fire extinguishers, each designed to fight a different type of fire. Using an incorrect fire extinguisher may cause a fire to intensify.

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Using a fire extinguisher

You should know exactly how to use a fire extinguisher in the event a fire develops and you feel you are safely able to fight it.

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Portable fire extinguishers – test your knowledge

Think you know everything about fire extinguishers? Test your knowledge.

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Prevent common household fires

Prevent common household fires

Using our claim data, we’ve developed a list of the most common causes of fire-related losses as well as some things you can do to help prevent them.

Faulty wiring and outlets are one of the top causes of house fires.

  • Check the electrical cords throughout your home for signs of fraying, and replace all frayed wires.
  • Do not pinch or cover electrical cords with items such as rugs.
  • Be aware of the capacity of your home’s electrical system. Don’t overload your outlets. If you have questions about your home’s electrical system, you may want to consult a licensed electrician.
  • Understand the difference between surge protectors and power strips – both allow you to plug in multiple electronic devices, but only the surge protector will help guard these devices from a power spike. Use surge protectors to protect valuable appliances, such as computers and televisions.

Carelessness in the kitchen may also lead to a house fire.

  • Never leave your pots or pans unattended on your stove.
  • Keep a kitchen fire extinguisher readily available and know how to use it.
  • If a grease fire erupts, turn off the heat source. Don’t throw water on the fire because it may cause the fire to spread.
  • If a fire starts in your oven, close the over door and turn off the heat to smother the flames.
  • If a fire starts in your microwave, turn off the microwave, and don’t open it until the fire is completely out. Unplug the microwave only if you can safely do so.

Clothes dryers are another common source of house fires.

  • If you’re installing your own dryer vent, follow the directions in the manual. If you’re unsure about how to properly install the vent, consider hiring a professional to do the installation.
  • Clean out the dryer vent regularly.
  • Clean out the lint filter after each load.
  • Lint may also collect under and behind your dryer, so don’t forget to clean these areas.

Alternative heating sources may also create a fire hazard.

  • Avoid using an older space heater, if possible. When purchasing a new space heater, pay attention to the safety features.
  • Don’t place a space heater near furniture, curtains or other objects that could easily catch fire.
  • If you plan to install an alternative heating system, such as a wood or pellet stove, follow the instructions. If you’re unsure about how to properly install the system, consider hiring a professional to do the installation.
  • Before installing a wood or pellet stove, check to ensure it complies with the laws of your state and municipality.

Dirty chimneys also pose a fire hazard.

  • Have your chimney inspected annually by a CSIA-certified chimney sweep. Have a professional clean and repair the chimney as needed, especially before the cold months, when you’ll be using it frequently.
  • Use seasoned wood only. Never burn green or damp wood.
  • Never burn cardboard boxes, wrapping paper, trash or trees in your fireplace – these can all spark chimney fires

Summer maintenance tips

Summer maintenance tips

Enjoy longer days and warmer nights while protecting your investment.

Summertime is the best time to be outside enjoying the weather. Make sure your deck or patio is ready for the summer sun by keeping in mind the seasonal maintenance tips below.

  • Check deck or patio for possible deterioration and safety hazards such as loose boards and protruding nails.
  • Check electrical outlets for potential fire hazards such as frayed wires or loose-fitting plugs. Be sure not to overload electrical outlets, fuse boxes, extension cords or any other power service.
  • Check all window and door locks to ensure correct functioning. Make sure all locks are secure and there are no holes in any of the screens.
  • Inspect recreational equipment for proper operation and possible dangers (e.g., Are swing sets secure, and do they contain any rusty bolts?).
  • Carefully inspect your toilet. Look for the erosion of plastic floater valves, and check all pipe connections.
  • Clean or replace your furnace filter.
  • Clean the clothes dryer exhaust duct and space under the dryer. Remove all lint, dust and pieces of material.
  • Inspect washing machine hoses periodically, and replace hoses that show signs of wear or leakage.
  • Have your roof inspected by a professional once every few years to identify areas of potential leakage.

Southern California Fire Season is Back

An Early Fire Season Follows a Dry Winter For the State

According to Mike Rosenberg’s June 11, 2012 article, “Dry Winter Has California Nervous About Fire Season,” on the MercuryNews.com website, fire season officially began May 28th in the Bay Area when seasonal fire stations were staffed. Usually delayed until late summer to the mid-fall, this year’s highest fire risk comes at least a month earlier than usual. Craig Clements, a Fire Science Professor at San Jose State was quoted, “Everything’s already dried out. We might bet to the point in June where we would be usually in July.” Based just on one area of Cal Fire patrols, almost 1,800 brush fires have burned almost 10,400 acres as compared to last year’s figures of almost 950 fires that burned close to 6,000 acres.

A Year-Round Fire Season For Southern California?

That’s better news than what’s been repeated for half a decade in the Southern California. As early as 2007, the Los Angeles Times website was printing articles warning of a fulltime fire season in the area. In one piece, “Malibu’s Fire Season Now Year-Round,” staff writers quoted still-serving Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. “We don’t have a fire season anymore. We have a year-round first season, and it has profound implications for how policymakers … are going to plan for the future, because you can no longer plan for a September-through-November fire season.”

The Formula For a Bad Fire Season

According to Professor Clements, wildfire prediction is “tricky.” Most fires start secondary to accident or negligence, although a not insignificant number are attributed to arson and lightening causes a number as well. Generally, the first part of the equation starts with dry vegetation usually from drought, although some years of above-average spring rains can incongruously produce bumper crops of potential fuel loads which dry from the combination of the hot summer months and competitive overgrowth.

Clements continues our wildfire lesson in his interview. In addition to dry fuel, high temperatures and a low humidity are necessary to set the stage with for the event, providing dry, hot fuel loads that lack sufficient moisture that might have conceivably dampened a spark enough to put the tiny fire out. Finally, wildfires that spread beyond their original area of ignition after exhausting available fuel require “gusty winds” to transport the fire and flame to new fuel and acreage. Large fires create their own weather and wind due to the enormous oxygen deficit produced by the inferno.

The Unique Stage For Malibu Fires: A Natural History

Long before Malibu became synonymous with the good life and desirable real estate, Mother Nature had devised other plans to periodically keep the area clean and well kept, at least from a natural perspective. As the website MalibuComplete.com remarks, “[f]ires in Malibu are an ancient phenomenon, part of a natural cycle of vegetation growth, drought, and fire.” The unique geography and flora of the area sets the stage for this cycle perfectly. The canyons of Malibu run north-to-south and are covered with “dry chaparral brush,” the extent and depth of which depends upon the ancient fire cycle described above. Combine the Santa Ana winds, enough available fuel, dry conditions, high temperatures and a spark or two and you have the beginning of the natural Malibu fire cycle.

Further, the details “designed” into the system all contribute to ensure that a fire of near-Biblical proportions will roll through the area every “15 to 45 years.” Chaparral is a near-perfect fire fuel: small enough to catch fire quickly, woody enough to produce a significant fire, infused with volatile oils to ensure the fire will burn long and hot enough to catch adjacent fuel on fire. The dry Santa Ana winds first gust through the area, leeching away available humidity out of the soil and plant life and then act to spread fires already ignited.

A Brief History of Modern Malibu Fires

According to the website MalibuComplete.com, the area’s “first major fire disaster” took place on October 26, 1929. While most of the Malibu Colony was obliterated, there was no reported loss of life and very few residents were even home. Reportedly, most were attending the Cal State and Stanford football game — “the state’s premier annual sports event” — in Palo Alto that evening. The stock market crashed as the residents returned to find their homes in ashes. “Luckily” for some of the newly homeless and penniless, there were no remaining structures to leap from in order to commit suicide.

The Malibu-related website provides the following list of modern fires in the area that destroyed multiple residences:

  • Malibu fire in 1956
  • Malibu fire in October 1958
  • Malibu Canyon fire in September 1970
  • Malibu fire October 1978
  • Malibu fire in 1982
  • Malibu fire in October 1985
  • November 2, 1993 Old Topanga Malibu fire
  • Malibu fire in October 1996
  • Malibu fire in January 2003
  • Malibu fire in January 2007
  • Malibu fires in October-November 2007

The Lessons of the 1993 Old Topanga Malibu Fire

The 1993 Old Topanga Malibu is of particular to note. It killed three and destroyed almost 400 houses and ancillary structures. Among the reasons cited for the enormity of the destruction included homes that did not meet the newer fire-resistant building codes, roads that fire trucks could not maneuver, uncleared brush that and water lines dating from the 1930’s that failed. Although an enormous amount of damage and loss resulted from the Old Topanga fire, reasons that allowed the fire to spread or prevented authorities from properly fighting the fires were addressed via new building codes, new road regulations, replacement of water mains and regular brush clearing, among some aspects.

A Christmas Eve Scare in 2009

Despite the regulatory and infrastructure changes mandated and put into place by the 1993 Old Topanga fire, a Christmas Eve firestorm roared through Malibu in 2009 frightening residents and bringing back memories of the infamous 1993 event. Kim Devore of The Malibu Times wrote in her article, “Deju Vu: Malibu Firestorm Brings Back Painful Memories of 1993 Fires,” of the community’s response to the fire and its potential. She quoted long-time resident Pete McKellar on the situation with the wisdom of his then 49 years in the community:

“There’s no comparison. That one started way back near the freeway so it had a chance to fuel and get rolling,” he said. “The winds were at a higher speed and more sustained. It came over the hill and in five hours 200 homes were gone. This is more protracted, but that was a real firestorm.”

Nonetheless, Las Flores Canyon was under a mandatory evacuation order on Monday, December 21 prior to Devore’s article. Subsequent news coverage indicates that damage was “minimal” in comparison to past fires and especially the 1993 inferno.

Resources for Property Owners

According to its website, “the Southern California Geographic Area Coordination Center (OSCC) is the focal point for coordinating the mobilization of resources for wild land fire and other incidents” in Southern California. It provides predictive information, wildfire status information and links to many government and private resources.

Prevention Tips to Avoid Wild Fire Threats When Camping or Outdoors

According to Mike Rosenberg’s article of MercuryNews.com:

  • Don’t keep a campfire smoldering. In fact, try to avoid this option entirely. “Use portable gas stoves when cooking away from home.”
  • If you do need to use a campfire, ensure that all ashes are cool to the touch before departure.
  • Don’t toss cigarette butts out of car windows. Use your ashtray.
  • Don’t drive or park your car over a high grass or high-brush area.

According to a June 16th article in the Lake County News:

  • Equip All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs), off-road vehicles and chainsaws with spark arresters.

Prevention Tips to Avoid Wild Fire Threats to Your Home and Property

According to Mike Rosenberg’s article of MercuryNews.com:

  • Be particularly careful when using power equipment, “a primary source of fires, particularly when grass is higher than normal.”
  • Avoid using a lawn mower to cut high grass.
  • Wait until mornings or cool days before beginning the chore of cutting dead grass within 100 feet of your home.
  • Keep your roof clear and clean of leaves in the event of area wildfires and floating embers.
  • Be careful when grilling out at home using charcoal. Be certain to fully extinguish flames and embers after cooking.

According to a June 16th article in the Lake County News:

  • Equip all chainsaws for around-the-home use with spark arresters.

According to a 2007 National Public Radio (NPR) transcript interview between hosts Robert Siegel, Melissa Block and Dr. Max Moritz, a fire ecologist at the University of California at Berkeley:

  • “[T]he most effective thing to consider is the wooden roof aspect, to rule that out. And we’re not seeing that as much on a new construction. The other is the venting. A lot of the new vent design looks more or less like a typical vent, but it has actually a screen over it to keep embers from getting in. Windows – double-pane windows, for example, the siding on homes and so on, these are all aspects of fire-resistant construction that need to be considered.”

According to Firewise.Org website for homeowners:

  • Trim overhanging branches;
  • Remove dead leaves from around your home and other structures;
  • Remove tall, dry grass from around the house using an electric weed eater, on a cool, humid morning;
  • Remove or trim back overgrown shrubbery with electric pruners or hand pruners;
  • Remove dead leaves from the roof and gutters;
  • Remove the lower limbs of trees to prevent a grass fire from igniting trees in the yard
  • Keep hoses, fittings, spigots and sprayers in good operating condition.

The Firewise website has a number of additional resources homeowners may find helpful, including construction tips, landscaping guides, remodeling hints and construction of fire wise homes.

Finding the Best Homeowner’s Insurance

Buying homeowners insurance can be confusing. If you are in the market to protect your home and possessions, you may want to do some research before committing to a policy or one specific insurance company. Ask questions and find an agent you trust that works with a company that has a good reputation for keeping their clients happy.

Your home is your castle and your possessions represent not only your past, but your present as well. You have worked hard to be able to live in the fashion you have become accustomed to, so it is in your best interest to make sure things can be replaced if a tragedy or accident occurs. When buying a policy make sure you know what it will cover. Some policies may focus more on the replacement value of a house or specific possession instead of its actual cost. Knowing the difference between these two amounts will affect how much you will want to ensure the property for and how the much the premium for the policy will be. For example, a 2 story, 4 bedroom home may be valued at only $65,000, but to build the exact same home at today’s prices, the replacement value may exceed $100,000. It will be up to you what you decide to insure the property for. If you would replace your home with a smaller one that would cost less to build then insure the property for its actual value. If you want a house similar to what you have now, bit the bullet and insure for the replacement value.

Many homeowner policies cover a variety of things including roof and fire damage, theft and various forms of liability. Liability can be anything from your dog biting the mail man to you cat Skippy tripping the neighbor lady as she walked to the front door to trade the daily dose of gossip. Most insurance policies have liability clauses that cover all types of accidents that occur on your property.

A family’s possessions can also be replaced if an itemized list of valuables is included within the policy. The contents of the home that have considerable value, such jewelry and works of art, should be listed in great detail within the body of the policy.

One of the biggest areas of confusion when purchasing a homeowner’s policy is the phrase “Act of God”. Many policies claim that “acts of God” are not covered. This can include damage to due ice and wind or other natural disasters. In recent years, people have discovered that water damage caused by flooding can sometimes be a gray area when it comes to insurance. Most companies offer a “Flood Insurance” rider that is attached to the policy and covers several types of water damage.

Never buy insurance without reading the fine print. Know what you are signing up for and what a policy will cover. Making sure you have the answers to help you make an informed decision is the best way to cover your assets in this type of situation.