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What to do when you suffer a Claim

If you experience an AUTO claim or loss:

  • Remain Calm
  • Make detailed notes of the accident and if possible take photos
  • You must promptly notify your insurance company of the circumstances along with any names, and addresses of witnesses and injured parties.
  • Promptly notify the police
  • If someone is hurt
  • You think the other driver may be guilty of a Criminal Code offence such as drunk driving
  • There is significant property damage
  • Promptly notify the police if your auto was stolen.
  • Take reasonable steps to protect the auto and its equipment from further damage.
  • Your insurance company will pay you to take reasonable steps to protect the auto from further damage.

 

If you experience a PROPERTY claim or loss:

  • You must promptly notify your insurance company of the circumstances and details of the loss.
  • You must notify the police if there was a theft or other criminal act.
  • You must notify the credit card or fund transfer companies in case of a loss involving credit cards or transfer cards.
  • You must protect the property from further loss. Make reasonable repairs necessary to protect the property from further loss and keep an accurate record of repair expenses.
  • Keep the damaged property for inspection by the insurance company’s representative
  • Your insurance policy will contain other duties and requirements, such as but not limited to cooperating with the insurance company and its investigation, promptly turning over copies of legal notices, etc. See your policy for a complete listing of all of your duties.

 

Loss Prevention

Insurance is great, but prevention is better!

They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Think of insurance as the cure (sort of) to a number of bad things that could happen to you or your family. Yes, if you have a fire or a theft, insurance will help you pick up the pieces. But most people who have had their house burn down, even those with great insurance coverage, will tell you that they would prefer if it had never happened in the first place. Insurance gives you financial peace of mind. If you have the right coverage, no theft, fire, accident or hurricane can leave you broke. However, there are certain things that insurance cannot fix.

For example:

  • If your wedding ring or a priceless family heirloom is stolen in a break-in or lost in a fire, insurance may cover the actual market value of the item, but the sentimental value cannot be replaced.
  • If your basement is flooded and all your family photos are destroyed, you will feel a tremendous loss, even though the photos have no monetary value.
  • Insurers are in the business of compensating people when they suffer losses. Being so close to so many human tragedies, insurers are passionately committed to loss prevention. They know that it is better to avoid suffering than to try to make up for it.

Below is useful information about how to avoid losses of various kinds, from fire to crime. These common-sense tips are that ounce of prevention that Canadians need, because there are some things that insurance can’t cure.

  • Keeping Dry: How to Prevent or Minimize Water Damage to Your Property
  • Controlling Mould
  • Preventing Theft
  • How to Prevent Fire in Your Home


Keeping Dry: How to Prevent or Minimize Water Damage to Your Property

There are few things more frustrating for a homeowner than a flooded basement. It can happen all too easily and often without warning. Flooded basements can be caused by:

  • improper disposal of materials such as fats, oils, grease, and diapers
  • tree roots growing through cracks in the waterlines and causing blockages
  • frozen water pipes
  • vandals blocking lines with bricks, wood, oil filters, bed springs, and even Christmas trees in manholes
  • illegal hookups allowing excess water into the lines (outside stairwell drains, sump pumps, roof leaders and drain gutters should never be connected to the sewer system

What you can do

There are steps you can take to help reduce the chance of your property being damaged by water. You can:

  • keep floor drains clear of obstruction
  • arrange to have someone check your property if you are going to be away from home for more than three days
  • ensure that there is proper grading around your home
  • install a sump pump
  • install backflow valves or plugs for drains, toilets and other sewer connections to prevent water from entering the home
  • store important documents and irreplaceable personal objects (such as photographs) where they will not get damaged
  • if you will be away from home during the winter for more than 3 days, drain the plumbing or arrange to have someone come in daily and check your home to ensure that your heat is still on
  • elevate furnaces, hot water heaters and electrical panels in the basement on masonry or relocate these objects
  • avoid finishing areas like basements that may be prone to flooding

Each insurance policy is different. If you are not sure about your coverage or would like more information about what types of water damage claims will and won’t be covered under your policy, contact our office.

After you find water…

  • Be careful!
  • Do not turn on any electrical switches until your electrical system has been checked. Turn off your main switch by standing on a dry surface and using a piece of heavy rubber, plastic or dry wood. If you have gas service, check for fumes. If you notice an odour, call the gas company immediately.

Protect it
Take steps immediately to protect your property from further damage. Board up holes or shut off water supplies to ensure your belongings are not damaged more than they have been. Move items out of wet basements and away from flooded parts of your home. Save receipts for materials you use. Your insurance company will cover any reasonable costs associated with protecting your property if the loss is covered by the policy.

Call our office
Let our experienced staff know what has happened as soon as possible. Your broker will begin to work with you to ensure the damage is assessed, your insurance company is notified and you are compensated as quickly as possible if the loss is covered by the policy.

Health hazards
During a flood cleanup, the indoor air quality in your home may appear to be the least of your problems. However, failure to remove contaminated materials and reduce moisture and humidity can present serious long-term health risks. Standing water and wet materials are a breeding ground for micro-organisms such as viruses, bacteria and mould. They can cause disease, trigger allergic reactions and continue to damage materials long after the flood.

 

Controlling Mould

Mould grows quickly, so if you see it or smell it, it’s important to act. Many people are allergic to mould and, more seriously, some moulds can have serious long-term health implications.

What is it?
“Mould” is the name used for a group of naturally occurring microscopic organisms. There are thousands of different moulds, including yeast and mushrooms, but they’re all parasitic organisms that lack chlorophyll. Moulds have existed for millions of years.

Moulds generally look like spots or fuzzy masses. They require three things to grow:

  • moisture
  • heat (between 2 and 40 degrees Celsius)
  • an organic food source

Mould decomposes its host food source, using it for moisture and nutrients to reproduce itself. The food is then absorbed by the long filament strands, which grow to form the “fuzz” you see with certain types. The food source can be anything from drywall, ceiling tiles, carpet, insulation and draperies, to wood or paper.

Is it covered by my home insurance policy?
The short answer is, it depends. It is generally excluded from home insurance policies because mould is often caused by slow water leaks or intrusions – a matter of maintenance and not an event that is “sudden and accidental.” However, if mould should happen as a result of a water damage claim (e.g. a burst pipe, sewer back-up, etc.), then any resulting mould cleanup would be covered.

Where would I find it?
Mould is more common outdoors but it can live indoors. Common indoor locations include moist areas such as bathroom walls, wood window frames and basements. It reproduces through spores that are air-, water- or insect-borne, and can settle on just about any surface. Generally, more air movement means less mould. Damage caused by indoor mould can be minimized if you properly treat and remove it at an early stage.

Mould can enter homes and other buildings through open doors, air vents, windows, cracks and crevices, and can be carried indoors by pets or on shoes and clothing. It can become airborne when materials are disturbed during renovations. Building materials left outside in the rain are prone to mould growth. Mould may be present all year long. Mould is not always harmful.

Mould is used in the everyday production of food. As yeast, mould is used in the production of red wine, bread and beer. In other forms, it’s used to make cheese or yogurt. In laboratories, mould led scientists to the discovery of penicillin and has since led to the development of other helpful medicines.

What is the problem?
All types of mould have the potential to cause health problems and many people are allergic to it. The severity of effects depends on the type and amount of mould and any pre-existing health problems. People with asthma or allergies are more susceptible.

Mould weakens its host food source and can cause structural damage to buildings. Mould can develop on organic materials if they remain wet for 24 to 48 hours. It’s not the quantity of water, but the time the material is exposed to water or moisture that determines the growth of mould.

Controlling indoor moisture is the best way to avoid mould and its possible health effects

  • Do not overuse humidifiers; maintain the moisture level in your home between 30% and 50%.
  • Check your house for signs of water leaks at least once a year and repair leaky roofs, eaves and pipes. Downspouts should drain away from the house.
  • Have water damage attended to immediately. Mould growth can start in less than 48 hours.
  • Keep kitchen and/or bathroom exhaust fans clean and ensure they vent directly to the outside of your home.
  • Remember to turn them on whenever you produce steam.
  • Clean and vacuum carpets and furniture frequently.
  • Regularly flush basement floor drains and sump pumps.
  • Remove moisture-trapping carpets and wallpaper in high-humidity areas such as basements, bathrooms and kitchens.
  • Increase ventilation and allow for sufficient airflow, to prevent moisture from getting trapped.

What to do if you have mould?
If you can smell mould, you probably have a problem. Identify the source of the odour and immediately have it attended to.

Step 1:
Hire a contractor
Look for a restoration contractor properly trained and experienced in removing mould.

Step 2:
Remove the mould safely
To protect you and your family and limit exposure to mould, the contractor must:

  • seal the affected area off from the rest of your house
  • exhaust air continuously from the affected area to the outside
  • safely dispose of mouldy materials (e.g. by not carrying them through the house)
  • avoid the use of chemical cleaners

Step 3:
Check that the work is done.
Ensure the contractor inspects all areas to make sure there are no wet areas or mould remaining. Ask yourself:

  • Do you see mould?
  • Do you smell mould?
  • Have all wet or mouldy items been properly cleaned and dried, or discarded if cleaning was not effective?
  • Act quickly! You should not live in a mouldy house!


Preventing Theft

Robbery is a crime of opportunity. So don’t give a thief an invitation.. Leaving your door unlocked gives the thieves a perfect opportunity to take what they immediately spot and race off. Parties where liquor, wine, beer or cigarette cartons are in full view are also tempting. No matter how late it is after a party, take a few extra minutes to store these items out of view. When you’re having a house party and the door is constantly opening and closing, tell your guests not to leave their purses by the door. It only takes a few seconds for a stranger to walk off with one.

If you’re upstairs for a while, around in the backyard, or talking to a neighbour down the street, lock the front door. The same goes for the back door if you’re sitting out front. Someone could slip into your home, grab the first thing he or she sees – a ring left on the counter, your purse or wallet, a portable CD player – and be gone before you realize what happened. Don’t leave parcels on your driveway, sidewalk, or on the roof of your car while you run in. You couldn’t be making it any easier for a thief.  Instead of letting a purse dangle from your shoulder, keep your hand on it, and never leave it open. If you’re carrying something valuable – jewellery, for example – keep it in your pocket. When you’re grocery shopping, don’t leave your purse or wallet in a cart while you walk down the aisle to look for something.

The same holds true in a department store; don’t put your purse down as you sift through clothes, and don’t leave it in a change room unattended. At the office, don’t leave your purse sitting on or beside your desk when you’re not around. And don’t leave a wallet in a coat or jacket hanging by the door.If you’re in a fitness club or another locker room, be careful of what you keep in your locker, and use a strong lock. By the time you get out of the shower, your money and watch could be long gone. Your car can be a target if you have packages on the seat. Keep valuables in your trunk or the glove compartment, and never leave the car door unlocked, even if you’re just rushing in and out of a convenience store.

Take Inventory of Your Possessions Now to Minimize Stress Later

Quick:

  • What’s the make and model of your television?
  • When did you buy it?
  • How much did it cost?

If you’re like most people, you take such things for granted. You bought it and it works. End of story. But what if you had to replace it and ALL of your other possessions? After a fire or a break-in, an inevitably stressful time, do you think you could remember all the details that went into making your house a home and what everything cost? It’s amazing how much stuff builds up over time!

Take the time now to make a record of your possessions and minimize the worry later. A home inventory guide can be helpful with this, please contact our office for a copy of one. Keep any bills, receipts, warranties and instruction manuals with this form – they can serve as proof of ownership. Retain this information in a safe place like a fire-proof box or safety deposit box and review it annually. It’s also good to take pictures or video footage of all your valuable possessions.

 

How to Prevent Fire in Your Home

A few common-sense precautions can reduce the threat of fire in your home. Discuss these precautions with all members of your household. But remember, no home is immune to fire. Although preventing fires is preferable to fighting them, be prepared for the worst.

Plan your exit

Make an escape plan. Practice fire drills. Every member of your household – babysitters too – should know the exits and how to use them. Keep keys to double-cylinder door locks where they are easily reached.

Learn your fire-emergency phone number and keep it close to the phone. Program the number into your phone if you can. However, it is usually best to leave a burning building immediately and phone for help from a neighbour’s home or with a cell phone after you are safely out. A small blaze can become a major fire in minutes.
Get out! Stay out!

  • If you smell smoke or see flames, get everyone out of the building immediately.
  • Get down on your knees and crawl to an exit; during a fire, the air is clearer near the floor.
  • Close doors to slow the spread of smoke and flames.
  • Agree on a meeting place; go there and “take attendance” to be sure no one is left inside.