Preparing a Household for a Disaster

Homeowners throughout Canada face a variety of natural hazards, including earthquakes, floods and wildfires.

If you are unprepared for one of these disasters, you and your family could be left without food, electricity or even shelter.

To prepare your household for a disaster, consider the following tips:

  1. Know the risks. Depending on where you live, your home could be impacted by any number of unique hazards like landslides or hazardous material spills. Familiarize yourself with the risks that are most likely to occur near your home to guide your preparation.
  2. Create a phone list. Create a master list of family and emergency contacts. Ensure that every member of your family has a copy of this list and stores it in a safe and easy-to-access area.
  3. Pick a meeting place. If you get separated from your loved ones during a disaster, it’s important to have a meeting place set up. This could be a neighbour’s house, library or community centre.
  4. Stay informed. Once impacted by a disaster, you will want to know how to receive updates on the situation. You and your family should know how to get this information ahead of time. Contact your local government to learn the best ways to receive alerts.
  5. Know how to turn off utilities. If you suspect a leak, knowing how to turn off your home’s gas and electricity can protect your family from fires or explosions. Locate and label your electrical panel as well as your water and gas valves.
  6. Store emergency supplies. Above all, in the event of a disaster, you will need access to clean water. You will need at least 4 litres (1 gallon) of water per person, per day. In addition, emergency supplies like first-aid kits, whistles, flashlights and cellphones will be critical to have on hand. Keep all of these items in a safe area or create an easy grab-and-go bag for quick access.

Home-Based Business Coverage

What Protection Does it Offer

Common coverages for home-based businesses include personal business property, professional liability, business income, personal and advertising injury, loss of business data, crime, theft, and auto coverage. Depending on the type of home-based business you have, not all coverages apply, and other coverage options may be available.

Coverage Options

Based on your business needs, you have three basic coverage options to choose from, depending on your level of risk:

Homeowners Policy Endorsement

This provides the least amount of coverage and, therefore, is not ideal for most home-based businesses (depending on the level of risk). While it may provide enough coverage for a freelance writer with one computer and no business foot traffic, it’s not enough for someone who employs others, has clients visiting his or her home or has valuable business equipment and/or inventory.

In-Home Business Policy

More comprehensive than a homeowners policy endorsement, in-home business coverage is a stand-alone policy that provides higher amounts of coverage for business equipment and liability.

Business Owners Policy (or BOP)

A BOP bundles property and liability insurance into one policy. Created specifically for the small- to mid-size business, a BOP covers your business property and equipment, loss of income, extra expense, and liability. It is the most comprehensive property and liability option. It does not include health or disability insurance, which are available as separate policies.

What’s Your Risk?

While most homeowners insurance policies do cover a limited amount of business equipment – computers, copiers, and printers, to name a few – it’s likely that what you own is worth more than your policy’s limits. Also, your homeowners liability insurance probably won’t cover any injuries that may occur to the employees or clients that you have on your premises. What’s a home-based businessperson to do?

Scrivens is Here to Help!

Properly insuring your home-based business is crucial to protecting both your business and your home. At Scrivens Insurance and Investment Solutions, we understand the small business owner’s personal and business needs, and can help you tailor coverage that’s as unique as the products and services you provide. Contact us today at 613-236-9101 to learn more about how we can help you insure your livelihood.

Home Maintenance Tips for the Summer

Keeping up with seasonal repairs upkeep not only shows pride of ownership, but can reduce the risk of costly and preventable home expenses. Prepare your home for the summer with the following considerations.

Home Exterior

  • Check all window and door locks to make sure they are secure. Open and close them, and apply lubricant when they are hard to open.
  • Inspect your roof and gutters, clean out gutter debris and check shingle integrity.
  • Inspect your home’s foundation, sealing cracks, and leveling yard depressions with compacted soil.
  • Check wooden structures, such as decks and steps, for rotting, loose wood, or exposed nails.

Home Interior

  • Hire a qualified heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) contractor to tune up your air conditioning unit.
  • Examine electrical outlets and cords for potential fire hazards, such as frayed wires.

Garage

  • Examine your garage door to ensure that it is in proper working order.
  • Declutter by reviewing the contents of your garage. Donate or dispose of items you no longer use or need.

Driveways and Walkways

  • Inspect your pavement for cracks and holes, and remedy them. This can go a long way in preventing accident slips, trips, and falls.

These tips are brought to you by Scrivens Insurance and Investment Solutions.

The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a toxic gas that’s produced by the incomplete burning of any fuel, including gas, fire, and wood. Many of the appliances in your home produce harmless amounts of CO. However, if these appliances aren’t properly maintained or ventilated it could lead to a hazardous buildup of CO. And, because the gas is colourless, odourless, and tasteless, it can be easy to remain unaware of potentially dangerous levels of CO in your home.

Symptoms of mild CO poisoning can include flu-like symptoms, such as headaches, nausea, and weakness. However, exposure to large amounts of CO far an extended period can be fatal. Follow these steps to prevent a buildup of CO in your home:

  • Install CO detectors on every level of your home. Also, never assume that your home’s smoke alarms can also detect CO.
  • Check your appliances every year to ensure that they’re in safe working order and have sufficient airflow around them. Appliances that emit CO include fireplaces, water heaters, portable generators, power tools, lawn equipment, and gas- or wood-burning cooking appliances.
  • Never leave a car or other motorized vehicle running in an attached garage, even if the garage door is open.
  • Never rely on ovens, gas grills or other appliances to heat your home.
  • Contact a specialist to ensure that your chimneys, vents, and flues are providing sufficient ventilation to your home.

For more information on protecting your home from CO and other dangers gases, such as radon and natural gas leaks, visit our website at www.scrivens.ca or call us at 613-236-9101.

Earthquake Preparedness Tips

Earthquakes, one of Mother Nature’s most unsettling phenomena, are unpredictable and can strike without warning. That’s why it’s important for you and your family to learn how to prepare for an earthquake, and develop a plan to react quickly and safely if a disaster strikes.

Preparing for an Earthquake

  • Locate and learn how to use the shutoff valves for water, gas, and electricity in your home.
  • Prepare an emergency earthquake kit with warm clothing, non-perishable food items and bottled water to last you and your family for at least 72 hours.
  • Bold down and secure your water heater, refrigerator, furnace, and gas appliances to the wall studs.
  • Hold earthquake drills with your family members: Drop, cover, and hold on!

During an Earthquake

  • Remain inside of your home and seek shelter under a heavy table or desk; brace yourself inside a door-frame or inside wall.
  • Stay at least 2 metres away from windows and out of kitchens and garages, if possible.
  • Stay under the structure that is protecting you. If the shaking causes the table or desk to move, then you should move with it so you remain protected.
  • Do not panic, and anticipate what you should do next to remain safe.

Follow these guidelines to remain safe after the ground stops shaking:

  • Remain in your safe location for several minutes in case there are any aftershocks
  • Do not leave your home unless it is absolutely necessary to do so
  • Check your family members for injuries and administer first aid
  • Establish a temporary shelter area in your home away from areas that have severe damage

Dos and Don’ts for First-time Homebuyers

Purchasing your first home is an exciting milestone. However, home buying is not simple task, and many first-time purchasers fall into common, sometimes costly, traps.

So, before you start searching for your dream home, keep in mind the following dos and don’ts.

First Time Home Buyers DOs.jpg

Get Pre-Approved – When shopping for a home, it’s important to know what kind of credit you have and your overall budget. In some cases, real estate agents won’t even work with you until you’ve been pre-approved for a mortgage.

Get a Real Estate Agent – While it’s true that real estate agents aren’t required for buying a home, they can be invaluable – especially for first-time buyers. A good agent will walk you through the necessary steps and offer market insight and specific advice.

First Time Home Buyers DON'Ts

Get over excited – It’s common for first-time home buyers to act on their emotions. But when it comes to such a large purchase, acting on impulse can be dangerous and commonly leads to overspending. Experts recommend that buyers only close on houses they can see themselves in for at least five years.

Get careless about money – When purchasing a house, you want to avoid making other big purchases before you are approved for a mortgage. In addition, many first-time buyers forget to budget for closing costs. Consider putting aside anywhere from 1 to 4 per cent of the purchase price to cover them.

Keeping in mind the above tips will ensure that, when it comes time to sign on the dotted line, you made all the right steps to secure your dream home. Get a free home insurance quote from Scrivens Insurance and Investment Solutions.

Cancellation versus Nonrenewal: What’s the difference?

Receiving a letter from the insurance company concerning the status of your policy can be confusing if you are unfamiliar with the language. though it may be unfamiliar, it is important that you understand the difference between a cancellation of your policy and a nonrenewal. These terms are vastly different and require different responses on your part.

Nonrenewal

A policy nonrenewal occurs after the insurance company decides, or after you decide, not to renew your policy when it expires. If your insurance company decides not to renew, they must give you adequate notice under the law, and their notice must outline the reasons why they have chosen not to renew your policy for another year. If you think their reasoning is unjust, you may call the insurer for further explanation.

Here are some reasons why your policy may not be renewed:

  • The insurer does not carry that particular line of coverage any longer.
  • The insurer has decided to write fewer policies under that specific line of coverage in your area.
  • Your company committed an act that raised the insurer’s risks significantly (for example, too many claims during a policy period).

Canellation

Cancellation of a policy is slightly different, as are the laws that govern it. Be aware that your insurance company cannot cancel your policy that has been in effect for more than 60 days except under the following conditions:

  • You did not pay your premium.
  • You have committed fraud.
  • You have made serious misrepresentations on the application.

If your policy is going to be cancelled, you will receive notice well in advance. After a cancellation, it can be difficult to obtain a new policy, as other companies may see you as a risk because you did something to get cancelled from your original insurer. If you do receive a cancellation notice because you failed to pay your premium, you may be able to resurrect your policy with the insurer by paying for an entire year’s worth of premiums upfront. If that is not an option for you, then you may have to opt for a high-risk policy.

Understanding cancellation and nonrenewal can be tricky. Contact Scrivens Insurance and Investment Solutions for more explanation on these concepts or for assistance with your commercial insurance policies. We are always available to help.