Is Your Car a Target for a Thief?

Based on recent news, luxury autos are still a hot target for car theives. With all the technology made available to everyone and their brother, smart thieves have found ways to outsmart even the best anti-theft technology for even the most luxurious models. Why are theives still targeting the higher value vehicles? Well, because they think the nicer ones are worth the effort.
In 1991, a peak year for vehicle thefts, the National Insurance Crime bureau noted that there were 1.66 million thefts. Since that year, vehicle thefts have dropped to nearly half of what it was in that year.

How are they getting past even the best technology out there? Essentially, the thieves are hacking the cars computers, stealing codes and tricking the device into opening the doors and even starting the engine.

How can you make sure you aren’t the next victim?

  • As always, be aware of your surroundings. Always lock your car the second you get out.
  • It is best to park your vehicle yourself rather than giving your keys to a valet or parking lot attendant
  • Keep your keys in a semi-secure spot in your house, not right by the door where they could be easily taken
  • Keep your car parked in your garage as a line of defense
  • Don’t leave your car running and unattended, even just for a couple seconds. Being in a small town, we sometimes forget that there is crime around us.

Following these tips to ensure that you won’t have to put in a claim in on your South Carolina Auto Insurance!

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5 of the Most Common Causes of Electrical Fires

Due to the excessive use of heating appliances and decorative lights during the months of December and January, electrical fires are very serious problems. In fact, the US Fire Administration states that there are 28,600 electrical fires a year, causing $1.1 billion in property damage and loss.

Here are 5 ways to prevent electrical fires not only during those months, but throughout the year.

  1. Keep an eye on old, outdated appliances and faulty electrical outlets. If you notice a worn or frayed cord, replace it! Floors, curtains, and rugs can catch on fire due to the heat it projects. Old receptacles and switches could also ignite.
  2. Replace that outdated wiring. If a home is over 20 years old, increased amounts of electrical appliances will most likely be too difficult to handle. Homes built back then weren’t made for all the technological advancements we have today!
  3. Avoid the misusage of extension cords. Try plugging appliances directly into and outlet and not into an extension cord for an extended period of time. Use them only as a temporary measure.
  4. Space Heaters! Since they are portable, they are more than likely put too close to materials that can easily catch fire such as curtains, clothing, beds, couches, rugs and chairs. Try using the radiator-type rather than space heaters with coils, they are less likely to ignite.
  5. Watch the wattage you are using for certain lamps and light fixtures. Installing a bulb with a wattage that is too high can easily cause electrical fires. Also keep cloth or paper away from the lampshade.

Many South Carolina home insurance carriers request electrical updates on older homes. Unsure how susceptible your home is to an electrical fire?  It wouldn’t hurt to have an electrician over to evaluate your electric.

Home Buying Tip: Keeping Insurance Affordable with Wind Mitigation

Home buying is less than overwhelming – but we are here to help, at least when it has to do with South Carolina home insurance. If you are searching for a home and looking to keep your insurance premium affordable we have a suggestion: before purchasing a home, determine if the home has any construction enhancements which make your home eligible for wind mitigation credits.

If you are coming from an area that does not have coastal exposure, you probably have not heard of wind mitigation, so here is a quick run down:

What is wind mitigation? Basically, wind mitigation means the steps that are taken to make the home more resistant to hurricane and high-wind damage. A strong home has the necessary items to protect for this kind of damage. Fewer damages result in lower or fewer insurance claims and will ultimately reduce the insurance premium.

How do I know if a home has wind mitigation? You can ask your real estate agent if the home has any wind mitigation features or if there has been a wind mitigation inspection completed by the previous homeowner. If you are really interested in the home, you could contact a licensed contractor and ask them to perform a wind mitigation inspection for a fee.

What should you look for in terms of wind mitigation?

  • Exterior wall opening protection: hurricane-rated window shutters and impact resistant windows
  • Exterior doors: hurricane-rated garage door rather than a standard garage door
  • Strength of your roof deck attachment: type of nails and/or longer nails that will help prevent shingle and roof plywood from being blown off in a hurricane
  • Roof Cover: Having thicker and stronger hurricane-resistant roof shingles, attached with properly sized and properly applied roofing nails to reduce the chance of your roof shingles blowing off in a hurricane. A newer roof is also helpful!
  • Braced gable-ends in the roof framing: Usually done inside the attic to decrease chances that your roof will collapse under hurricane wind
  • Reinforcement of roof-to-wall connection: metal tie-down straps that attach roof rafters to wall studs to decrease chances that all or a portion of your roof will lift off of your house during a hurricane

Not only do these steps help you gain a lower insurance premium, but they also help in other areas. South Carolina Department of Insurance states that the Homeowners who select to replace their windows with impact resistance systems and hurricane shutters have reported savings up to 29% in their energy costs.

13 Fire Safety Tips

As we slip into the fall months where we all enjoy the scent of fall candles burning in our homes and the holidays where we use decorative lights, it brings up the topic of fire safety. Whether the fire is from leaving that great smelling candle unattended or from a short in an electrical outlet that your Christmas lights are plugged into, this is the season when house fires increase. it is important that all household members are educated in fire prevention and safety.

As adults, we have been reminded of these things our whole lives, which is why we are responsible for passing along the information and educating the children around us. Here are a few topics you can discuss with others:

  1. Smoke alarms should be installed throughout the home including the kitchen, basement, and every bedroom and outside sleeping area.
  2. Never remove or disable smoke alarms.
  3. Test smoke alarms at least once per month by pushing the test button.
  4. Interconnect smoke alarms so if one sounds, they all do.
  5. If smoke alarms don’t work, replace the correct size battery or the entire smoke alarm unit.
  6. Don’t play with fire.
  7. Don’t leave cooking items or clothing irons unattended.
  8. Place a portable ladder in each second floor room.
  9. Have an updated, emergency first aid kit.
  10. Develop a family plan and conduct a home “Fire Drill” at least twice a year.
  11. Check fire extinguishers for expiration and replace as needed.
  12. Handle gasoline or propane-powered equipment cautiously.
  13. Install carbon monoxide detectors.

Thank you to Paul Davis Restoration & Remodeling for these great tips!

6 Items NOT included on most Homeowners Insurance Policies

We know that insurance is hard to understand, even the word itself a mouthful. That is why we try to make things a little easier. Below are 6 things that are not included on most South Carolina Insurance Policies:

1. FLOODING :  Flood is not covered by your homeowner’s policy. You must have a separate policy in order to be covered from a loss caused from rising surface water occurring outside your home. You should strongly consider purchasing flood insurance if you live next you any type of body of water, even if it’s an empty creek. Make sure to check with your insurance agent if you are in a flood zone or not. If you are in a flood zone with a high risk, you will be required to purchase flood insurance. No matter where you’re at, it’s a good idea to purchase a flood insurance policy.

2. TERMITES/RODENTS :  None of these pesky little bothers are covered. This also includes damage done by squirrels, mice, rats, and you get the picture. Many insurance carriers believe it is the owner of the homes’ responsibility to maintain these little problems.

3. YOUR PETS :  Many companies provide liability coverage in case your dog causes injury to another person and you happen to get sued. However, if he/she decides to turn every pair of shoes into a chew toy as well as the couch and dining room chair, your policy will not pay to have these items replaced.

4. FOUNDATION SETTLING/CRACKS :   If there is any cracking, settling, earth movement or shift, your dwelling and foundation are not covered and this is a homeowner’s policy exclusion.

5. POWER SURGE :  Fire, lightening and wind losses are covered, but if there is a power surge and all your appliances get fried, power surge is excluded from your policy. However, if lightning is the cause, you’re safe!

6. GENERAL WEAR/TEAR OR MANUFACTURERS DEFECTS :  When your 7 year old refrigerator stops working, insurance companies think that this is something you should notice needs looked after or replaced. Cracks in your entry-way tile and bowed wood flooring are general wear and tear insurance companies think you should keep an eye out for and are responsible for replacing.