Flood Insurance, Even in a Non-Flood Zone? You Bet

 

By M Wyzanski

Record breaking flood waters have emerged following one of the most devastating hurricanes the US has come to know. In fact, in the southeast areas of the lone star state, the majority of homeowners do not even own flood insurance. And who can blame them? There was never a precedent in the locality. Although hail and wind storms are a constant concern for property and business owners, no one imagined that rain waters would contribute to enormous damages as those suffered and broadcast throughout the country in recent days. Surely not the home mortgage companies, for they do not even require it from borrowers!

But now that the toll has risen among the dead and those forced out of their homes seeking shelter, one thing remains clear. When things eventually do settle down, home owners and people in the commercial sector will have to deal with the epic losses and damages on their own because of a lack of related coverage.

For homeowners without flood coverage the facts are uncomfortable, as they are painful: a standard home insurance policy does not protect from floods and the damages related to them. The insurance industry stresses in no uncertain terms that compensation is only provided to those who had the foresight to acquire flood insurance in the event of water damage emanating from atmospheric conditions like a hurricane, a tropical storm or other inclement weather.

A little history about Flood insurance:
The year was 1968 when the US Congress mapped out its flood program. Designed to help assist home and business property owners from the financial ravages of a damaging flood, its policies are offered in all communities that are involved in the rules of participation.

Flood coverage shields property owners or renters from building damage and contents damage.
This includes the following:
• The structure, as well as building foundation
• Electric and plumbing systems
• Central air conditioner, furnace, water heater
• Refrigerator, stoves, and any installed appliances, like a dishwasher
• Carpet that has been installed over bare flooring
• Personal clothing and electronics
• Drapery
• Transportable heaters and air conditioners
• Carpeting other than what is included in the property coverage
• Washers and dryers

Typically, flood recompense claims include:
• Replacement Cost Value: up to eighty percent of the amount needed to replace property damages in a single-family, primary residence
and
• Actual Cost Value – replacement costs at the time of loss reduced by physical depreciation

Note: The flood program always uses actual cost value to determine reimbursement of personal property.

Article Source: https://EzineArticles.com/expert/M_Wyzanski/2158115

Note from InsureUS: As a result of Hurricane Harvey and the horrific devastation caused by flooding in Harris and surrounding counties, floodplain maps will likely be revamped in the near future, which means rates for flood insurance could be on the rise. If you believe your home may be in a period that will be on the new floodplain map, NOW is the best time to act on it as the rates will go up after the new maps are created. Call InsureUS today at (281) 640-8888 for your quote.

Hurricane Harvey highlights small business risk

The devastation left by Hurricane Harvey is a good reminder to small business owners that preparing for disaster is essential. The devastation left by Hurricane Harvey is a good reminder to small business owners that preparing for disaster is essential. Catastrophic hurricanes claim close to 40 percent of small businesses, according to FEMA. It can take years for even the most prosperous businesses to recover. Most Mom-and-Pop operations running on the edge never reopen. According to a 2016 study by Harvard Business Review, small and young businesses, already taking big financial risks, are notably unprepared for a disaster such as a hurricane. The study focused on small and young business recovery one year after Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Among its findings:

* Many firms were uninsured. Nearly one-third of companies affected by Sandy had no insurance of any kind. Of firms less than five years old, about 60 percent were uninsured. Those that were insured found that their insurance covered none of their losses.

* Businesses increased their debt load when they could. More businesses applied for credit after Sandy than received insurance payments. * Credit was often constrained. Firms unprepared for disaster found that their interest rates went up after Sandy. Smaller firms were unable to secure credit because they did not meet the requirements, according to an informal survey by the New York Daily News.

* Community banks reduced lending. After Sandy, so many households and businesses were affected at once that small banks found loan defaults depleted capital. They were unable to lend. The study concluded that risk analysis had to be made a strategic priority.

September is National Preparedness Month

A few easy steps can prepare for disaster
No part of the country is immune to natural or man-made disasters.

During September, the Department of Homeland Security joins with national, state, and local agencies to encourage Americans to prepare their homes for disasters of all kinds.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), engaging citizens in disaster preparedness is a critical first step in effective response and recovery efforts.

In other words, if you know what to do when a disaster is predicted, what to do when it occurs, and what to do afterward, you will be in a better position to save yourself and your home before help arrives.

While there are obvious differences in preparing for a hurricane and preparing for a forest fire, there are similarities in preparedness for all types of disasters. You should know where you will go to escape, what your mode of transportation will be, and when you should leave. (It’s never a good idea to let your car be almost out of gas.)

Assemble important documents to take with you including copies of insurance policies, identification, and bank account numbers. Use a waterproof container and include some cash.

It may not be necessary to leave your home. Do what you can in advance of a storm or earthquake to make it safer. Remember the basics of survival: water, food, clean air, and warmth.

Consider the amount of water and non-perishable food your family will need to stay in place without power for at least three or four days. Always have extra batteries for portable radios. Also have a backup battery for cellphones.

Drivers of all ages can increase their comfort, safety

All vehicle drivers should check this advice from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Older drivers particularly should check it out.

* Visibility: Be sure your seat is adjusted correctly. Drivers should be able to see at least 10 feet in front of the vehicle. Headlights should be aimed at the roadway. A mechanic can determine if they are aimed and aligned right.

* Check with an ophthalmologist to be sure your eyeglasses are correct.

* If your night vision is less than it once was, drive only during the day. Arrange your activities so you are not caught outside in the dark. You still have your independence, but remember: safety first.

* Ease of entry. When you are having trouble getting in and out of a car with low seats, consider buying a minivan or SUV, which have higher seats. People of all ages should consider this.

* Ease of driving. Almost all cars have power steering today, which takes much less strength to guide the car. An automatic transmission is easier to drive than a stick shift, even if the stick shift is thought to be more sporty.

Many people feel that small cars are easier to drive. If your big car no longer seems comfortable, a smaller car might be right for you.

* Check your medications. Today, the average person takes several, some of which can produce drowsiness, dizziness or nervousness. If you think a medication has one of these effects, ask your doctor for an alternative medicine

Beware dangers of lawn mower fires

The hum of lawn mowers ring through the country in summertime.

Homeowners rarely consider this task dangerous, but the fact is mowers can and do cause fires.

A lawn mower was responsible for a 2015 wildfire in Oregon that cost millions to fight. The fire raged through more than 26,000 acres, threatening 158 homes.

Every summer, mowers are responsible for devastating house fires, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. In 2013, a Virginia homeowner parked a hot mower under a wooden deck. The heat from the mower sparked a fire that rapidly consumed the house.

Fire in lawn mowers is not a commonly acknowledged problem.

Any lawn mower, electric or gas, can catch fire. As with any powerful tool, many things can go wrong. Nearly every mower brand has had a recall due to fire potential. In 2011, John Deere recalled mowers after cooling fans failed, causing a reported 83 fires. Toro recalled its zero-turn mowers in 2013 after an idler pulley rubbing against the fuel tank posed a fire hazard. Craftsman mowers were recalled because of fuel line connections, according to classaction.org.

Fuel hazards are one of the leading causes of fire in gas-powered lawn mowers. Fuel leaking onto the motor can cause a fire. Fuel vapors around a hot muffler also cause fires.

According to Underwriters Laboratory, the exhaust of a mower is 240 degrees and the engine can heat to 200 degrees. A gas cap leak or sloppy fueling can easily spark a fire.

Experts recommend that you fill a mower only when it is cool.

Gas-powered mowers are not the only types responsible for fire. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, this year an electric mower by Hong Kong Sun Rise Trading, was recalled when it was discovered that a short in the circuit board could cause a fire.

Another common cause of fire has nothing to do with the machine itself and everything to do with how it is used. Mowers frequently cause brush fires when tall, dry grass becomes stuck in the mower deck. This grass can get packed into the blazing hot muffler and catch fire. Not only does it burn the machine, but usually sets off a grass or field fire. This could have been the cause of the Oregon wildfire of 2015.

Rock strikes cause fires when the mower’s metal blades, traveling 200 mph at the tip, hit even a tiny rock, causing a spark and igniting dried grass.

Fire experts recommend homeowners wet down dried grass or brush before mowing. An even better idea is to not mow at all in hot, dry, windy weather.

Best practices for using your lawn mower:

* Start mowing near the house and mow outward to create a firebreak.

* Never fuel up a hot mower.

* Replace any leaky gas caps.

* Once you have fueled up, keep the gasoline container at a safe distance.

* Disconnect the spark plug before doing any service on the mower. A spark plug can cause the mower to start unexpectedly.

* Clear rocks from the mowing area.

* Keep the mower clean of fuel.

* Routinely clean out grass from the mower blades with a hose. Never put your hands near the blade unless the spark plug has been disconnected and the unit has completely cooled.

Heat and humidity add up to danger

Emergency rooms see an increase in cases of heat stroke and dehydration in July and August.

The American College of Emergency Physicians gives this advice on how to stay safe in hot weather:

*Check the heat index before going out to work, play or practice and plan accordingly.

*Avoid direct sunlight in the middle of the day. Schedule activities for the early morning or early evening hours.

*Wear loose, light-colored clothes and hats. Dark colors absorb more heat.

*Drink lots of water or sports drinks; about 8 ounces an hour when in the sun in order to avoid dehydration.

*Take frequent breaks in the shade or in air-conditioning to cool off.

Calculate the “apparent temperature” before taking part in activities. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:

* At 90 degrees and 50 percent humidity, it feels like 96. At 70 percent humidity, it feels like 106 degrees. Heat exhaustion is likely, so take it easy.

Heat exhaustion can include cramps, heavy sweating, nausea, heart-rate changes and dizziness. Get the victim out of the sun, remove excess clothing and place cool towels on extremities. Fan and give small sips of water.

* At 95 degrees and 50 percent humidity, it feels like 107 degrees. At 70 percent humidity, it feels like 124 degrees. At that temperature and at any higher temperature or humidity, it is extremely dangerous to be outside and heatstroke could occur.

* At 100 degrees, humidity ranging from 35 percent to 55 percent can cause heat exhaustion. At 100 degrees, humidity of 60 percent or higher puts a person into heat stroke territory.

Heatstroke is a medical emergency. Symptoms include confusion, an altered mental state, unconsciousness and hot, dry skin. Call 911. Do not give fluids, which can cause seizures.

Hurricane Preparedness Week, May 7-13, 2017

There will be trouble. Expect it. Prepare for it.

According to NOAA, on average, 12 tropical storms will form over the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, or Gulf of Mexico during the hurricane season which runs from June 1 to November 30 each year. Six will become hurricanes.

In the Central Pacific Ocean, an average of three tropical storms, two of which become hurricanes, form or move over the area during the hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30 each year. During a typical 2-year period, the U.S. coastline is struck by an average of 3 hurricanes, one of which is classified as a major hurricane (winds of 111 mph or greater)

What damage does each category of hurricane cause?

Category 1 – 74-95 mph winds

Don’t take a Cat 1 hurricane lightly. At this wind speed, you may have roof and siding damage. Dead trees will fall; branches will break. Power outages will last for several days.

Prepare: Trim trees, service your generator, make sure you have water, food, and an up to date emergency kit.

Category 2 – 96-110 mph winds.

Downed trees will block roads. Power can be out from days to weeks.

Category 3 – 111-129 mph winds

Expect devastation to buildings. You may lose your roof, gutters and siding. Power will almost certainly be out for at least two weeks. Water will be a problem. Fill bathtubs before the storm to use for flushing toilets and bathing.

Category 4 – 130-156 mph winds

You’ll be evacuated if this storm heads your way. Make plans before hurricane season for a place to stay for a minimum of two weeks. Your house will sustain major structural damage. There will be no water or power. Your pets cannot survive this storm. Make plans to take them with you.

Category 5 – 157 or higher mph winds

Catastrophic. You will be evacuated. After the storm, you will have no place to live. Houses will be reduced to timber. Travel will be impossible for weeks. No water or power for weeks. Not only will you need a place to stay for weeks, you’ll be filing an insurance claim for everything you own. Before the storm, use your smartphone to take a video of your home, room by room. Your pets will not survive this storm. Make plans to take them with you.

Storm surge

Surging waters can be a deadly effect of a hurricane. In Hurricane Katrina in 2005, it was the storm surge that broke levees in New Orleans and caused flooding six to 12 miles from the beach.

Poison Centers are your lifeline in an emergency

Poison Centers are your lifeline in an emergency
Millions of people use the services of a poison center when faced with a poisoning emergency.

Set up to provide expert advice and information to healthcare professionals and the public, the 55 poison centers around the country, are available 24 hours a day, all-year-round. Specially trained nurses, pharmacists, and doctors offer a free and confidential service that includes interpretation services in 161 languages, emergency advice, as well as, the provision of educational materials on poison prevention and treatment.

According to data collected between 1980 and 2008, poisoning is the leading cause of injury-related death in the US. Coming into contact with a dangerous or potentially dangerous substance is called an ‘exposure’ and in 2014, there were about 2.2 million exposures and a call to a poison center every 11 seconds, Almost half of these exposures involved children under the age of 6, though the more serious cases occurred among adolescents and adults.

More than 75 percent of recorded exposures are unintentional and according to the 2015 annual report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC). The top 5 substances that affected adults were analgesics, household cleaning substances, cosmetics/personal care products, sedatives/antipsychotics, and antidepressants. Cosmetics, household cleaners, analgesics and foreign bodies/ toys were among the substances that affected children. Most exposures involve ingesting something harmful but also include inhalation and contact with the skin and eyes. People also call the poison center in the event of insect bites and carbon monoxide poisoning.

One of the roles of poison centers, which are partly financed by congressionally mandated federal funds, is to collect real-time data to help detect possible public health emergencies.

Recent studies have seen a rise in the annual rate of calls to poison centers related to cannabis exposure and an increased risk of unintentional cannabis ingestion and overdose by children. Data collected between 2000 and 2013, show that rates of cannabis exposures in children under the age of 6 in states where medical cannabis was legalized before the year 2000 were more than 2.82 times higher than in those where the drug remained illegal in 2013.

Signs That You Need To Replace Your Roof

Signs That You Need To Replace Your Roof
Studies show that most homeowners don’t know the right time to replace their roof. This puts them at the risk of getting injured in the event the top crushes. To help you out, here are signs that the top of your house is ripe for replacement:

It’s already too old
Experts report that top of the house can last up to 25 years. If your top is of this age or older, it’s time to think of replacing it. If you aren’t sure you should hire a professional to inspect it. If it’s in bad shape and puts your home and family members at risk, you should hire an expert to replace it.

The top is leaking
Most of the leakages can be fixed without having to replace the entire house top but if your top is leaking, it’s a sign that top is worn out and you should give it some attention. When the top of the house is leaking, it means that the flashing is damaged and you should replace it. When you notice a leak, you should have it fixed as soon as possible. This is because the leak allows a lot of water into the top that promotes the growth of mold which reduces the lifespan of the roof.

The shingles have buckled or curled
Curled or buckled shingles expose your home to outside elements. They also put your house at the risk of shingle blow-offs in the event of a storm. Two of the main reasons for buckled shingles are old age and moisture. To keep your family safe, you should replace your top when your see curled shingles.

There are algae on the top of the house
Algae are always in the air but germinate when they land on damp surfaces. If your top has moisture, the algae will grow and feed on the roof which weakens the top and over time, the top can come down. You should inspect the extent of the damage and if it isn’t that much, you should scrub off the algae from the top of your house. You can also remove the algae using zinc strips.

The chimney is leaking
The chimney should be properly flashed for it to work properly. If the chimney is leaking it means that the flashing isn’t properly connected to the top of the house. In most cases, this problem comes about when the top is deteriorated and needs repair. You should work with your contractor and confirm if you can fix the flashing. If you can’t, you should replace the entire top of the house.

You are having high energy bills
High heating and cooling bills mean poor ventilation and insulation brought about by a poor performing roof. You should ask a contractor to inspect the top and if in bad shape, replace it.

Conclusion
These are some of the signs that your roof needs to be replaced. To make the decision, you should hire an expert to first inspect the top of the house. For ideal results and for the unit to last for a long time, ensure that the new unit is of high quality.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Satvik_Mittal/1728302
By Satvik Mittal | Submitted On January 31, 2017

Celebrate at home, not on the road

The holidays are here, bringing with them family, fun and a dose of partying. It may be no surprise then that December is known as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in 2013, there were more than 10,076 fatal crashes that involved a driver with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher.

There is good news: The number of fatal, alcohol involved crashes in the entire year of 2013 has declined from a high of 13,582 fatal accidents involving alcohol in 2005.

To remind individuals of the dangers involved in driving while impaired, the NHTSA launches a “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign each year, from December to January. The NHTSA reports that nearly 1,000 deaths occur because of impaired drivers during the month of December alone.

Although fatal crashes where drivers died have declined over the years, more drivers are impaired not by alcohol, but by other drugs. From 2006 to 2012, drug involvement in this type of crash increased six percentage points. Although the campaigns used to target drunken driving specifically, now that marijuana is legal in a handful of states, the campaigns have changed to target impaired driving as a whole, including driving after smoking marijuana or ingesting another drug.

For example, in May 2016, AAA reported that deadly crashes that occurred after drivers had used marijuana in Washington State doubled between 2013 and 2014.

These campaigns highlight the importance of making the right choices during the holiday season. If you’ve been out drinking, there are options: call a cab; get a ride with a sober friend; have a designated driver. There are always options that are better than getting into a car and driving after you’ve been drinking or partying for the holiday season.