Protecting Your Home

Protecting Your Home

Guidelines for Renovation or Construction

Your dream home is almost finished. Then, one evening, the painter tosses work rags into a bucket, locks up the home, and leaves. That night, the rags ignite and produce a fire that eventually consumes your entire house. Could this happen to you?

Penny Insurance Agency partnered with our friends at Chubb Insurance to discover the best ways to protect your home while it’s undergoing a facelift or being built.

How can you protect your home during renovation or construction?

Keep portable fire extinguishers distributed throughout the worksite. A home under construction is particularly vulnerable to fire. Having several fire extinguishers close by can help prevent a small fire from causing major damage. We recommend multipurpose models (Type A-B-C) of at least 10 lbs. in weight. The extinguishers should be situated on each level of your home in visible locations.

If you are renovating your home, do not allow your fire or burglar alarms to be disconnected. When floors are being sanded or plaster work is being done, you can expect a great deal of dust to be produced, possibly triggering your alarm components. Rather than turning off your smoke detectors, have them covered with plastic bags or manufactured tops that can be removed at night, when fires often occur, or replace them with heat sensors.

If you are constructing a new home, plan in advance for fire and burglar alarm installations. To provide protection, a temporary system can be installed as soon as the house is enclosed. Only a phone line and a temporary power source are needed to give you centrally-monitored protection. This will provide automatic notification to the proper authorities of a fire or break-in after workers have left. If a phone line is not available, there may also be wireless options to explore.

Consider installing a residential sprinkler system. If installed during the early construction stages, a sprinkler system is an affordable way to provide protection against a major fire.

Additionally, consider installing an automatic water leak detection system to help protect your property from water leaks and pipe bursts. Often, the instillation cost for this type of system is minimal when compared to the total project budget. This system can also provide peace of mind that if a leak occurs, damage will be mitigated. You may also be eligible for premium reduction credits that could pay for the system over time.

Take steps to keep unwanted visitors away from the construction site. Vacant construction sites can attract unwanted attention and increase the chance of theft and vandalism. Motion-activated lighting, perimeter fencing, gates or chains across driveways, monitored security cameras and security guards are examples of ways you can protect your home while it is vacant.

Clean up every day. Many commonly used construction materials are highly combustible. Make sure scrap lumber, sawdust, cardboard containers and other debris are removed daily. Also, ask painters to remove all rags and solvents at the end of each day, as they are highly flammable and can start a fire if left unattended. If removing all flammable liquids from the jobsite daily is not practical, they may be stored in a U.L. approved flammable liquid storage cabinet located a safe distance from the structure.

Maintain proper coverage. To reduce the possibility of being underinsured during construction, it is your responsibility to notify your agent or broker as values increase throughout the various phases of construction. This will provide for any needed adjustments in the coverage amount for your house or other permanent structures, to reflect the reconstruction cost information you provide. Consider all costs associated with your project—not just the builder’s contract. This may include: architect and engineering fees; interior design work and fees; and additional contracts handled directly by you.

Taking proactive steps to better protect your home may significantly lower the cost of your homeowner’s policy once construction is complete. Renovating or constructing the home of your dreams can be long, arduous process, fraught with risk. Minimize your chances of damage and consult with a Penny Insurance Agent today. Our highly-specialized team members will leverage their experience and industry knowledge to provide you with the best possible protection.

You Lock Your Door, but Do You Lock Your Internet

You Lock Your Door, but Do You Lock Your Internet

You Lock Your Door, but Do You Lock Your Internet?
Cybercrime isn’t a laughing matter, even if the names of different malware—Heartbleed, WannaCry—sound like angsty teen band names. The U.S. Justice Department recently said that cybercrime is one of the greatest threats facing our country, having enormous implications for national security, economic prosperity and public safety.

Penny Insurance Agency partnered with Chubb Insurance to break down what needs to be done to protect your family, business and assets on the Web.

Affluence Increases Risk
High net-worth individuals are more exposed to cybercrime due to the complexity of their lives and the many ways they use online services. Statistically, successful individuals and families have 15 or more financial accounts. They often have multiple homes equipped with several computers and other devices connected to the Internet, including IoT-bound smart heating, cooling and security systems. And that doesn’t even include personal computers or devices.

Consider a few real-life examples:

Richard* owned a second home in Florida and discovered that its smart protection/control system had been hacked and that the home’s complex air conditioning system and alarms had been disabled. Because temperatures inside the house reached 95 degrees for days on end, Richard’s expansive and expensive wine collection was ruined. Through his insurance provider, he connected with a security firm to identify vulnerabilities and tighten his cyber security.

When Ahmed* received an email from one of his banks notifying him that an account was overdrawn, something seemed amiss. By his count, he should have had a balance in excess of $10,000. When he checked his records, Ahmed discovered that his secretary had made several wire transfers from his account mistakenly using an email address similar to his. The bank found the email contained the Ahmed’s Social Security number, as well as passport information. Identity theft services were engaged quickly to mitigate future damage to his personal identity.

Actionable Steps to Combat Risk
In each case noted above, the individual had proper coverage and services to mitigate future damage and their service providers alerted them to the risks. But not all cybercrime victims are so fortunate. Many families are inadequately protected from the potential financial damage that cybercrime can inflict, and many policies do little to help once a cybercrime has been committed.

In addition to reviewing policies and coverage, take action to eliminate unforeseen costs and headaches:

Protect yourself. Don’t expose yourself or your family to unnecessary risk. Complete background checks on employees, back-up data via cloud software or external devices and use anti-virus protection. Beware of connecting to the Internet in public places, avoid pop-ups, ads and unsolicited emails. Update passwords and computer software often and don’t overshare via social media or other means.

Be prepared. Prepare an incident response plan that designates the individual within your business who will take charge if a cyber-incident occurs. The plan should include experts prepared to provide legal advice as well as assist with assessing the extent of the incident.

Train your staff. Many cyber incidents may be preventable through employee training and preventive measures such as not opening emails or attachments from an unknown source. Don’t let your staff be the weakest link.

Act immediately. Should a cyber-incident occur, execute your response plan and promptly notify authorities in the event of breaches of personal information.

Helping our clients understand the importance of protecting against cybercrime
The rising tide and growing sophistication of cybercrime make successful clients more vulnerable than ever to identity theft, financial loss and more. Taking the proper precautions and maintaining safeguards can help protect successful clients, their families and their businesses from becoming cybercrime victims.

At Penny Insurance Agency, your peace of mind is our highest priority. Consult with a Penny Premier concierge today to assess your risk and discover your optimum protection services.

* U.S Department of Justice. crime