Fire Safety for Outdoor Fires

Fire Safety for Outdoor Fires

With the seasonal shift to fall comes cooler weather, earlier nights, and bonfires to gather around with friends and family. But when it comes to lighting a flame outdoors there can be risks—and how those risks relate to your homeowner’s insurance bring about another level of concern.  In this article, we’ll explore basic fire safety for all the cozy nights (and productive days!) you have planned this autumn.

Types of outdoor fires and how to make them safer

There are a lot of reasons to be outside once the fall air turns crisp. From cleaning up fallen leaves to celebrating with those closest to you, here are some of the most common reasons people light up outside, and how to make them a bit safer.

Grilling

With football tailgates comes outdoor barbeques, and you may find yourself at the grill a bit more often than before. But if you find yourself watching over the cookout, make sure you practice grill safety: stay with the grill the entire time it’s on, move the grill away from decking or siding that may be more flammable, and keep your grill clean so a grease fire doesn’t catch you unaware.

Fire Pits

Nothing says “fall” more than sitting around a fire pit or bonfire with s’mores on hand, but a fire pit is also a common way for fire to get loose in the yard. If hanging around the fire with friends is on your fall to-do list, make sure your fire is at least three feet away from the house as well as anything that could easily catch fire, and use a metal screen to keep sparks at bay. When you’re done, check that the fire is out completely before you leave it alone for the night.

Burn piles

When the fall leaves make a dense carpet in your backyard, it’s natural to want to clean them out—whether to keep underlying grass healthy or to prevent snakes and other pests from taking cover. There are a number of preferable ways to clear out dead leaves other than a burn pile—such as bagging them up in biodegradable bags or chopping them up in the mower to mulch the lawn for the winter—but if you must burn, there are a few precautions you should take.

Firstly, check the weather, and never burn on super dry or windy days, when flames could jump or scatter. Also, look for a place that is flat, and never under branches or power lines. Add a moat around the perimeter of your pile for added safety, and make sure you douse the pile—not once, but twice, once you are done for the day. 

Are outdoor fires covered by insurance?

While many will assume that a runaway fire would be covered by homeowners’ insurance, the reality is a bit more complicated. Grills and fire pits are typically considered personal belongings, as well as an “unattached structure.” This means that—typically—any damage will only be covered at a percentage of the insurance you carry for your entire home, usually about ten percent. So if an ember sparks something bigger and affects your shed or garage, it could mean big bucks out of pocket. 

For this reason, it’s a good idea to know your coverage limits and liabilities—before you start up the fire pit for the season. Talking with your insurance agent about your own practices, hobbies and concerns is a great way to determine if you’re at risk, and if so, how much risk you’re taking on when you light the match.

For your homeowner’s policy, or any other insurance requirements you have, Penny Insurance has the experience and expertise to walk you through, every step of the way. Should you have any questions about coverage or insurance types, or if you would like to schedule a consultation or get a quote, please contact us and let us know.

How to Buy Hurricane Insurance

How to Buy Hurricane Insurance

How to Buy Hurricane Insurance

With hurricane season now upon us, it’s crucial that those with homes along vulnerable coasts know that their homes and belongings are protected. If you’re looking to buy hurricane insurance, you know that it can be complicated—from changes in what policies are required to how coverage differs from state to state. However, with the right advisor in your corner, you can have coverage from all the storms that may head your way.

What is hurricane insurance?

The first thing that’s important to understand is that not only will standard homeowners’  insurance not cover damage from a hurricane, but that there is really no such thing as a hurricane policy. Instead, homeowners will need to merge two types of policies—a flood policy, and windstorm insurance. Flood insurance will help cover the cost of damages incurred by surges of water into the home (rising water damage is typically not covered by a standard homeowners policy), and windstorm insurance covers damage from any sort of high wind, not just hurricanes.

How much will hurricane insurance cost?

To protect your home completely from a hurricane, you’re looking at pretty high premiums. While the standard homeowners’ policy will cost, on average, somewhere between $1500 to $1900 a year, adding flood coverage ($700-1000/year) can increase that significantly. In addition, you’ll want a  windstorm insurance policy that can add an additional $700 to $2,600 a year, depending on your location, deductible and home build. Once added up, you’ll be paying significantly more to ensure that your coverage is gap-free.

What to know about hurricane deductibles

While most homeowners plans have a set, flat deductible per claim (like $1,000 or $2,500), oftentimes a hurricane deductible will be based on the value of your home (like one or two percent over your estimated value). That means your deductible could be much higher than you’re used to—a $1 million seaside home could require $10,000 deductible if calculated at one percent of the home’s value. These  deductibles may also be called “Named Storm” deductibles, as they are triggered when the NOAA names a storm.

While the risk is small that you will need to use it, you’ll want to talk through your options with a trusted advisor who can walk through the options, and ensure you don’t get hit with a deduction that’s high during an already stressful time.

Top tips for purchasing hurricane insurance

If you’re considering purchasing hurricane insurance for your home, there are a few things you should consider.

Understand your coverage—and its gaps.

As you walk through your coverage options, you’ll want to make sure that you understand what is covered—inside and out. Does your payout cover the cost of a full rebuild? What is your deductible? How is your premium billed, and what is covered? All of these are things you’ll want to know in case of a storm-based emergency.

Don’t wait.

While hurricane season is somewhat predictable between June 1 and n=November 30 of each year, some policies have wait times before they are active, so you don’t want to wait until a storm is headed your way to figure all this out.

Compare your quotes.

Quotes can vary, and with such a high price tag attached to hurricane coverage, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting the best rates.

Get an advisor to help.

Because hurricane policies include many different variables, you’ll want to make sure you have someone who knows the industry and the coverage, so they can help you identify gaps in coverage and shore them up. But having someone knowledgeable alongside you can not only help while you’re going through the purchasing process, but can also give you a little peace should something happen, knowing they are helping you along the way.

If you need a hurricane insurance policy, Penny Insurance has the experience and expertise to walk you through it, every step of the way. Should you have any questions about coverage or insurance types, or if you would like to schedule a consultation or get a quote, please contact us and let us know.

The Basics of Equine Insurance

The Basics of Equine Insurance

The Basics of Equine Insurance

In recent years, pet insurance has become more and more popular, offering owners peace of mind to cover sudden illness. But for larger members of the animal kingdom like horses, insurance is either not available, or can be cost prohibitive. For that reason, equine insurance exists—to protect horses used for business or personal use in the case of illness, theft or death. 

What is equine insurance?

Equine insurance is a type of insurance purchased for the care of a horse—for either personal or business purposes. This type of insurance provides coverage in case of illness or death, injury or property damage. 

What types of equine insurance are there?

Generally, there are two types of equine insurance: all-risk mortality and medical insurance. Each type focuses on a different facet to insure; we’ll break them down here. 

All-Risk Mortality and Theft insurance

All-Risk Mortality insurance protects you, the owner, from loss if your horse must be put down, dies, or is stolen. Most policies will cover any type of death, but can only be purchased if the horse is between 2 and 17 years of age; typically, a horse 20 years old or older will not be eligible for coverage. Additionally, policy premiums are based not only on the age of the horse, but also with the following considerations: 

  • Purchase price. 
  • Training or competition records. 
  • Breeding record. 
  • Appraisals and Market comparison. 

Medical and Surgical insurance

Medical insurance covers your horse if they need veterinary care or treatment in order to recover from an illness or injury—costs that can be significant, depending on the situation. However, medical insurance can usually only be purchased as an additional policy to a mortality and theft policy. 

What should I know if I am considering an equine insurance policy?

While all insurance policies have basically the same functionality, equine insurance policies have many parameters that should be considered. For this reason, finding an agent who understands policies and coverage is very important. However, here are a few things to understand if you are considering purchasing an equine insurance policy. 

Policy Terms Matter

If you are considering a new policy, it’s vital that you understand the details of the policy. As an example, in a mortality policy, the payout may be made in a previously-agreed-upon amount (that will be reflected in the coverage), or at a fair market value.  Either can provide good coverage, but if a horse dies after illness or injury has taken a toll, it may also affect what is considered “fair market value.” Talk through your questions or concerns with your agent to ensure you have a clear understanding of what is covered, and how much it will return in case of a claim. 

Policies are Non-Transferrable

It’s important to know that equine policies are non-transferrable, which means that if something happens to an uninsured horse, you cannot use the policy from another horse to cover the costs. 

Insurable Value is Not Always a Fixed Number

While many equine policies only cost a few hundred dollars each year for coverage, the value of a horse is not a fixed amount, and neither is the cost of coverage. As you talk with your agent, make sure you discuss coverage terms in detail, as well as the different aspects of your horse that might affect your coverage or premium.

If you’re considering equine insurance, Penny Insurance has the experience and expertise to walk you through it, every step of the way. Should you have any questions about coverage or insurance types, or if you would like to schedule a consultation or get a quote, please contact us and let us know.