Heavy Rain? Be on the Lookout for Heavy Damage

Your home protects you from the elements, but heavy rains can weaken that protection. With a little maintenance and a lot of vigilance, it’s not hard to stay safe and dry.

Spring rainstorms are a fact of life in many areas of the country, and they help keep things green, even if they keep you inside. But when they get heavy, it’s time to start thinking about the potential impact all that water has on your home. The first step is finding and fixing any immediate problems as soon as it’s safe to do so. Then, you’ll want to take measures to prevent those problems from happening during the next downpour!

Where is all that rain going?
Your roof and gutters form a key line of defense for your home – and in a storm, they’re vulnerable, because so many things can damage them. Trees, hail, and other objects can create weaknesses that might lead to leaks in your roof, so check for missing shingles and other issues. And keep your gutters clear so all that water drains properly.

Are you checking everywhere?
Water dripping from the ceiling is hard to miss. Water in your crawl space, however, can easily go undetected because hardly anyone ever checks there. Don’t forget to look down there after a storm (or have a professional do it) to make sure everything is nice and dry. If you do see moisture, you’ll want to get it out with a sump pump as soon as possible.

And don’t just look up – another place to check is your home’s exterior, whether it’s siding, brick, or another material. Weak spots can be hard to see, so look at various times of the day in different lighting conditions.

Of course, you’ll want to make sure your doors and windows are properly sealed to keep the elements out, too.

What about around your property?
Storm water has to go somewhere, and if your property doesn’t drain well, or if runoff goes toward your foundation, you could have problems. So watch for patterns, and grade property so it drains away from your home if possible. Always be wary of hillsides and tilting trees after heavy storms, because the land might not be stable.

And don’t forget to keep storm drains clear of leaves and other debris. This can prevent flooding both on the streets and your own property.

What should you do during the storm?
During powerful storms, stay inside. This is not the time to check your roof, your exterior, or your property unless there’s an emergency and you know it’s safe to go out. Monitor your interior, making sure no water is getting in. If it is, do what you can to alleviate the situation in the moment, even if it means just placing something under a leak to collect the water. For more serious problems, though, remember that safety is the most important thing. If your basement is flooding, for example, don’t go down there – you could be trapped and even drown.

Thankfully, powerful storms only hit once in a while. Preparing for them, however, should be on your mind a lot more frequently, because the next one could be tomorrow.

Reposted with permission from the original author, Safeco Insurance®.

5 Alarms to Consider for Your Home

What alarms and sensors do you need in your home? The answer is different for everyone. But, whatever your situation, today’s technology has you covered with options including online monitoring and more. Here are some common alarms, including two everyone needs to have, and three many people should at least consider:

  1. Smoke alarms
    No matter where you live — house, condo, apartment — you need smoke alarms. Place one in every room where people sleep, and at least one on each level of your home. Consider alarms that work for both flaming and smoldering fires (they’re different), as well as an interconnected system so that all alarms sound when one detects smoke.
  • Carbon-monoxide (CO) detectors
    Here’s another must-have. CO — a deadly, odorless gas generated by the burning of fuels such as wood, natural gas or propane — kills hundreds of people a year in the U.S. You should have at least one CO detector on every level of your home, even if you only have electric appliances and heat sources. Your state may even require you to have one.
  • Natural gas detectors
    These alarms usually detect CO and propane leaks, so consider one if you have natural gas appliances in your home. You also need one for your RV or trailer if you use propane to fuel your cooking or heating. 
  • Water alarms
    Leaks from appliances or pipes can do extensive — and expensive — damage to your home if they go undetected. Water alarm systems typically use sensors placed near appliances or other trouble spots to alert you when they sense moisture.
  • Security systems
    Whether you want a do-it-yourself system or one that is professionally monitored, you’ve got more options than ever before. You may even be able to check in on your home from wherever you are using your smartphone.

When you’re making these important decisions, here’s one more important thing to consider: Some of these alarms could qualify you to save on your homeowners insurance! Please give us a call to learn more.

What Car Drivers Need to Know About Motorcycles

Summer is here, which means you’ll likely see more motorcycles on the road. And the key word here is “see.” People driving cars and trucks often fail to notice the motorcyclists around them, partly because they’re not accustomed to looking for them.

It’s obvious yet bears repeating: Motorcyclists are much more vulnerable than car and truck drivers and passengers. Not only are there many more cars and trucks on the road, but there’s no such thing as a “fender bender” for a motorcyclist. Even a low-speed collision can seriously injure a rider, not to mention total the bike, so it’s important to always give motorcycles extra space and an extra look.

Below are six tips to help you safely share the road with motorcyclists.

Objects in mirror. The object in your mirror may be closer than it appears — especially if it’s a motorcycle. Due to its size, it can be harder to determine how close a motorcycle is and how fast it’s moving. When turning into traffic, always estimate a bike to be closer than it appears to avoid forcing a rider to quickly hit the brakes — or worse.

Watch those left turns. One of the most common motorcycle accidents involves a car making a left turn directly in front of a bike at an intersection. Give yourself an extra moment to look specifically for motorcycles coming toward you when turning into traffic.

Double-check your blind spot. Carefully checking your blind spot before changing lanes is always a good idea. When it comes to motorcycles, it’s critical. A bike can be easily obscured in the blind spot, hidden behind your car’s roof pillars, or blend in with cars in other lanes, so make a habit of checking carefully before changing lanes. Plus, always use your turn signal.

Don’t tailgate. This is another general rule for all drivers, but it’s especially important when following a motorcycle. Be aware that many riders decrease speed by downshifting or easing off the throttle, so you won’t see any brake lights even though they are slowing down. Following at least three seconds behind the bike should give you enough time and space to safely slow down or stop when necessary.

Stay in your lane. Obviously, motorcycles don’t take up an entire lane the way cars or trucks do. But that doesn’t mean you can cozy up and share a lane with a bike. Just because the rider may be hugging one side of the lane doesn’t mean you can move into that space. Riders are likely doing this to avoid debris, oil on the road, or a pothole, so a bit of mild swerving within the lane can be expected. Do not crowd into the lane with a bike.

Think about motorcycles. Making a habit of always checking for bikes when you drive will make the above tips second nature and make you a better driver. To personalize it, think about your friends and family members who ride bikes and then drive as if they are on the road with you. Motorcyclists — and everyone else — will thank you.

Home Security is easier – and Better- Than Ever

Think home security is still about bulky camera equipment and wires running all throughout your home? Think again.

Today, things have changed quite a bit, and the playing field has been leveled. Advanced tools and security systems are more accessible and affordable than ever. (And installing them might get you a discount on your homeowners insurance, too.)

Full-service systems are still a popular option with many people. Companies offer central monitoring, video surveillance, smoke/carbon monoxide detection and more. Some even include home automation tools so you can control appliances from anywhere, and many will send text-message alerts in response to specific occurrences, such as when the kids enter the house after school.

Do-it-yourselfers who don’t want an all-in-one system have many choices as well. Here are three of the newest and most popular security tools:

1. Smart (and small) cameras

Cameras today can be tucked anywhere and don’t require wires. With a good battery and wi-fi connection, you can see what’s happening outside — or inside — with a glance at your phone or computer.

2. Key-free doors

Say you have a friend stopping by to check on your dog while you’re gone for the day. You don’t have to risk leaving a key outside. With a code-based entry system, you can simply provide your friend with temporary access that turns on and off when you want.

3. Home automation products

It’s easier than you think to give yourself remote access to the lights and appliances in your home. At least one available product can be used with your existing power outlets; simply plug it in and control the power to that outlet from an app on your smartphone. Don’t ever worry about forgetting to leave a light on again.

Of course, even “old-school” tools, such as motion-activated outdoor lights, can still have a big impact on security. So whether you choose high-tech tools or stick to the basics, you’ll be making your home here a less attractive target for burglars.

Employee Spotlight- Melissa Diaz

This month’s employee spotlight is on the absolutely wonderful Melissa Diaz!  Melissa has been in the insurance industry for 19 years and with Brown & Brown of 5 ½ years.  She worked her way up from receptionist to account manager, then to marketing, and now is the leader of operations, personal lines, and commercial lines! 

In her spare time, Melissa likes to run and lift weights, go to local breweries, and cook/bake.  She has two boys, Kai & Denny, who are the light of her life.  They are always on the go.  She says her favorite vacation spot is Vegas, and no matter where her and her boys go, they always have room for dessert.  Melissa also says she has a mini zoo at her house—she has a Bearded Dragon, Ball Python, Shih Tzu, Border Terrier, Red Eared Slider Turtle, and several guppies. 

Melissa says she loves working at Brown & Brown and that this truly is her dream job.  And it truly is a dream having her in our office family and as one of our leaders.  She really is the best!