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Avoid Being Taken by “Storm Chasers” for Snow Removal or Repairs

 

IceDams-HeatCables012If you’ve tried to find a crew to clear the snow and ice off your roof, you’ve probably encountered what so many homeowners have in the Boston area—a message that says that the contractor’s mailbox is full. (We’ve heard some firms have received over 400 calls a day for snow removal and damage repairs.)

 

That’s the perfect scenario for less than honest individuals to prey on distressed homeowners. So the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) warns that we all have to watch out for “storm chasers” wandering neighborhoods looking to make a fast dollar on snow removal or home repairs. Now not every individual soliciting work is disreputable, but the dishonest ones may try schemes to defraud you by:

  • Demanding upfront payment, scheduling a day to do the work and never showing up
  • Starting the job, but never completing it
  • Using inferior materials and performing shoddy work that doesn’t meet code requirements if they’re doing repairs

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Claims for damage from ice dams or other storm-related losses.

 

icedam1By the time this article posts, Boston (and eastern MA) will likely have passed all local records for the most snow in any winter. (We need less than an inch to achieve that dubious honor.) And it all arrived in less than a month! So it’s no surprise to anyone living around here that the insurance companies are beginning to see a significant number of claims.

 

Many are from water damage related to ice dams. Others are for roofs that have collapsed from the weight of over 70 inches of snow in just 22 days. (some places have 80+ inches)

 

Many insurance companies are adding claims professionals to take calls, answer questions, adjust losses, and help customers. And all of the professionals at the Cushman Insurance Group, as always, are here to assist and support you throughout the entire process if you need to make a claim. Here is some information you may find helpful throughout that process: Read the rest of this entry »

What To Do About That Snow On Your Roof

snowroofIt’s no surprise to anybody living in our area (eastern Massachusetts) that the amount of snow we’ve had since the beginning of the year has been extraordinary. And besides the risks that it presents on the highways, it’s a major risk to your roof as it continues to pile up.

Our thanks to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety for sharing the critical advice below on how to estimate the risk to your roof, how to mitigate those risks, and if you can/don’t address the issue, what warning signs you should know that your roof is under too much stress. Here’s their advice:

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FAQs About Snowmobile Insurance

 

SnowmobilingThose of us who are exhausted from digging out from under all of the recent snow would say “ENOUGH!” But if you love to hit the trails on your snowmobiles, you’re probably thrilled with all the white stuff.

 

Before you head out, we hope you keep in mind that snowmobiling is one of the more dangerous recreational sports. Each year, snowmobiles cause around 600 deaths and over 14,000 injuries in the United States. And that’s a key reason that Massachusetts law mandates that you have snowmobile insurance. And like car insurance, there’s a lot to consider when arranging your policy. Here are just a few things to consider: Read the rest of this entry »

Shoveling Snow: Tips on how to do it safely

 

how to shovel snow safelyWe just found ourselves under a fair amount of the white stuff here in Eastern MA. And while many of us have been shoveling snow for years, that doesn’t mean we’ve all been doing it safely. Popular Mechanics generated a great list some years ago that highlighted moving snow effectively, safely, and hopefully with the least aches and pains following the effort. Here’s a condensation of that list:

 

Stretch first

Most of us march out into the cold and put more stress on our muscles than we’re accustomed and never think about stretching first! Athletes do it before a workout; you should too. Stretch your hamstrings, stretch your back, and stretch your shoulders. And remember to start slow. Moving snow after a blizzard is a marathon…not a sprint!

Don’t move snow twice

Before you even take your first scoop, decide where you’re going to dump the snow. And don’t block access to snow that needs to be removed by piling it up in a way that will force you to move it twice. (We know…basic common sense.)

Move snow the shortest distance possible

Consider that everything from a driveway to a patio to a walkway is really a rectangle, and rectangles have a center point. Move the snow from the center of the rectangle to the nearest edge.

Clear cars first

Brush snow off cars then clear around the cars. (Think about it…if you shovel everything else THEN clean the car, you will be moving snow twice.) There’s also another important point about that: the state police will give you a ticket if you don’t clean the snow off your car. (Besides…you’re putting drivers behind you at risk as the snow blows off your car. You don’t want that either.) 

Maintain proper posture:

Use your leg muscles as much as possible – push snow when you can and use your legs to lift when you can’t push it.
Keep your back straight as you move from the squat position to the upright position.
Use your shoulder muscles as much as possible.
Hold the snow shovel as close to your upper body as possible.
Keep one hand close to the shovel blade for better leverage.
Don’t twist your upper body as you throw snow.

Keep hydrated

You’ll be sweating while you shovel and you need to replace the fluids, so
take bottles of water out with you and keep them accessible.

Rest frequently

Again…remember when there’s 2 feet+ of snow, removing it is a marathon. And it’s not a race so PACE YOURSELF.

Don’t overdress

You need to stay warm, but if you overdress you’re going to be soaked in sweat in no time. Dress in loose-fitting layers that you can peel off as you heat up.

Whenever possible, team up

First…shoveling with a friend or neighbor is usually more enjoyable than shoveling on your own. And obviously, it’s quicker to get the job done with two or three sets of hands.

Attack it in steps

It’s easier to remove snow in thin layers than wait until all the snow is down to have at it. If it looks like your area is going to get dumped on, try to get out there and shovel it in several passes.

Stretch when you’re done

Stretch gently when you’re done and use ibuprofen to take care of inflamed muscles. Rest and remain hydrated.

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Loaning Your Vehicle? You’re Loaning Your Insurance Too!

 

loan car to friendWhen you give a friend permission to drive your vehicle, keep in mind that you’re also agreeing to loan them your insurance.

Folks frequently have the inaccurate belief that car insurance follows a driver, so it’s not surprising that we get questions from our clients about this very issue. We recommend you consider the following before you hand over the keys or think about borrowing a friend’s car yourself: Read the rest of this entry »

Don’t risk your life with a CO detector past its expiration date.

 

CO expiration dateHere are several frightening statistics:

  • Only half of the U.S. homes have a working carbon monoxide alarm (U.S. Census)
  • There are 72,000 CO poisoning incidents in the U.S. every year. (CDC)

Add to that the issue that many people think that once installed, carbon monoxide detectors work forever and you have the potential for tragedy. Here’s the reality: The life span of a CO detector is roughly 5 to 7 years. So if you installed your detectors when the MA law was put in effect in 2006…and you still have the same units: IT’S TIME TO REPLACE THEM. Read the rest of this entry »

Do You Know What To Do if Your Pipes Freeze?

frozen pipes

 

Here’s the Problem: WATER EXPANDS WHEN IT FREEZES!

It doesn’t make any difference if your pipes are metal or plastic…if the water in them freezes the resulting expansion puts tremendous pressure on the pipes and that can cause them to break.

 

Now that doesn’t always happen if a pipe freezes, but it can so if you have water pipes in any poorly or unheated areas of your home (think garages, exterior walls, attics, under kitchen cabinets, etc.) you hopefully have taken preventive measures to insulate them from the cold. If you haven’t, here are tips on preventing and thawing frozen pipes (Courtesy of the American Red Cross!) that can help you avoid serious home damage from a burst pipe. Read the rest of this entry »

Left turns could be getting safer in MA!

 

Yellow Directional ArrowWe focused in our last article on the dangers of left turns. (Left turns are estimated to be at least one quarter of the intersection accidents throughout the state of MA.) So we were interested when we saw that in early December the MA Department of Transportation announced a $3 million project that will add yellow left-turn directional lights to about 350 traffic signals across the state.

 

Since you may not have encountered a yellow directional traffic signal in the past, here are the rules: Read the rest of this entry »

Left-hand Turns: One of the Most Dangerous Moves on the Road

 

left turn signalHow many left turns do you make throughout the week? How many times do you step on the gas to make that turn between two on-coming cars – assuming (hoping) the 2nd car will slow down for you?

Making a bad decision like that isn’t the sole reason for intersection accidents, but it certainly contributes to the fact that making a left turn is one of the more dangerous moves drivers have to make on the road. Consider this:

  • In 2013 (according to Arbella Insurance) 31% of severe accidents (claims totaling at least $100,000 in bodily injury and property damage) involved a left-turning vehicle.
  • The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that across the country, over 53% of “crossing-path crashes” involve left-hand turns.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that close to half of the 5.8 million car crashes in the U.S. are intersection-related and the majority of those are the result of making a left turn.
  • A study by New York City transportation planners revealed that left turns were 3x more likely to cause a deadly crash involving a pedestrian.

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