Outdoor Tips for October

October brings many visible signs of change everywhere you look.The leaves begin changing color, the weather becomes cooler, farmers begin to do their final harvests, there is pumpkin everything everywhere, and the excitement of Halloween is in the air. In recent years the amount of money spent on Halloween decorations is a close second to what is spent for Christmas. Halloween is not just for kids anymore. It has become holiday for all ages.

 

Halloween has definitely found its way inside and outside of the home. Halloween displays continue to grow bigger and bolder every year.  Graveyards in the front yard, flashing strobe lights, fog machines, bright burning candles in pumpkins, fire displays, or an indoor haunted house are all great decorations and can definitely enhance a spooky experience. These props also pose a hidden risk to the homeowner and those visiting the house.

 

Don’t Trip

Tripping and falling is one of the most common injuries that happen during Halloween. When setting up your outdoor decorations make sure you take into account the traffic patterns of your trick or treaters and other visitors. Things that are light weight could pose the risk of being blown over by the wind or knocked down accidently by a passing treat bag that is running to get to the next house. Inflatable decorations should be securely fastened to the ground and the extension cord that powers the fan should also be carefully placed.

 

How to Prepare

Stand on the sidewalk in front your house after you have finished decorating and take a hard look to see if any hazards are present. Make sure extension cords are secured; check to see that walking surfaces are free of debris, large holes, tree roots, and stakes. Corn stalks, dried flowers, and crepe paper are highly combustible. Be sure to keep them far away from any open flames. Be certain that your yard, walkway, and entry way are well lit so anyone unfamiliar with your home can safely navigate your terrain.

 

Don’t be Afraid

This blog may seem scary to you but rest assure it is meant to be informational. If you have not had your Homeowner’s insurance policy reviewed by the John J Suppa Agency then you do have something to fear. Contact John Suppa or Tiffany Baird at 412-238-8200. We will go over some additional Halloween safety tips, review your policy, have recommendations, and make sure all of your bases our covered. Once our review process is complete you can then consider yourself Safe with Suppa.

Thanksgiving Countdown

With Thanksgiving being a week away now is good time to take a step back and think about kitchen safety prior to the big meal. Should something happen in your home is your homeowner’s insurance policy ready to handle a claim?  Here are some things to consider over the next few days to ensure a safe and successful holiday meal.

 

Fire Prevention Month

Did you know that November is fire prevention month? This is because more fires happen on Thanksgiving than any other day of the year. I know that everyone is focused on turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, and all of the other delicious trimmings that are part of the meal so allow me to be your conscience. In order to keep the good times going follow these simple steps.

 

Bird in the Oven

 Number one is to check the batteries in your smoke detector and shake up your fire extinguisher. Unattended cooking is a leading factor in most kitchen fires. Ifsomething does spark you want your smoke detector to alert you immediately and your extinguisher ready to fire.  Next stay in your home while cooking your turkey and check on it frequently. Turkey grease can spark a fire. If you are cooking your bird in an aluminum pan consider using two pans placing one inside the other. That way if pan number one becomes punctured you have a back up in place to keep grease and juice from dripping into your oven.

 

Stovetop Safety

Stovetop safety is also important thing to keep an eye on when you are not checking on the turkey. Keep potholders, oven mitts, wooden spoons, and any other debris far away from the flame of the burner. Be sure to keep pot handles turned inside so they are out of the reach of children, and don’t wear a loose fitting shirt. With multiple things cooking on the stove top it’s easy for a hanging sleeve to get caught on something or come in contact with a flame.

 

What to do if…..

If you have a small (grease) cooking fire on the stovetop and decide to fight the fire smother the flames by sliding a lid over the pan and turning off the burner. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled. For an oven fire turn off the heat and keep the door closed.

 

Homeowner’s Insurance

Check your smoke detectors, check your extinguishers and have the John Suppa Agency check your homeowner’s policy. We will make sure your home is adequately insuredand the right coverage is in place. Call John Suppa or Tiffany Baird at 412-238-8200

SPOOKTACULAR HALLOWEEN SAFETY TIPS

Halloween is only a few days away so as final preparations are made to add finishing touches to costumes and outdoor decorations I have a couple more tips to make sure your Halloween weekend is Spooktacular! Here are recommendations to keep you, your home, and most importantly your trick or treaters safe during the weekend festivities.

 

WATCH OUT

Most communities will host trick or treating between 4:00 pm and 8:00 pm so while driving during these hours be extra vigilant on the road. Be sure to drive slowly and don’t pass a stopped vehicle. The vehicle could be stopped because of children crossing in front or it could be letting children out. Kids will cross the street anywhere at any time as they hurriedly run along to get to the next house. Be on the lookout for children darting out into the street and parents chasing after them.

 

TRICK OR TREATERS SAFETY

Review these tips with your trick or treaters of all ages prior to going out. Start with street crossing 101. They should look both ways and cross only at corners and crosswalks. If there is a vehicle approaching never assume that a vehicle will stop.  It does not hurt to brighten costumes up to make children more visible. Give them flashlights and glow sticks, or use reflective tape on their costumes so drivers can see them. This will help drivers and chaperones spot children more easily. For older kids who are trick-or-treating on their own, find out the route they'll be taking and when they'll be coming home. Also be sure that they carry a cell phone if possible, go in a group, and only go to houses with porch lights on and walk on sidewalks on lit streets. 

 

COSTUME DO’S AND DON’T’S

When purchasing costumes make sure the material is flame retardant and if you are making your own use polyester or nylon materials. Check the labels on all make up and face paint. You want to know where it came from and make sure it does not contain any toxic chemicals. It is also a good idea to do a test strip of the paint on your child’s arm or hand to make sure the paint does not irritate their skin. Properly size up masks, beards, and wigs to ensure children can see clearly and their breathing is not inhibited.

 

FINAL PREPARATIONS

Take quick walk around your property and look for potential hazards.  Make sure walkways are clear of decorations and debris. Keep the path to your front door and well lit. You should avoid draping fabrics over light posts. Set up your spooky lighting with caution. Battery operated candles or LED lights are a safe alternative to candles and eliminates the risk of fire. Think about who you know that is afraid of their current insurance policy. As we head into the end year before things get too busy with the holidays now is a great time to have Auto and Home Insurance policies reviewed by our agency. We can also discuss the benefits of an Umbrella policy. Call The John Suppa Agency at 412-238-8200 today and we can help ease your fears about insurance.

Life Insurance Comes In All Shapes and Sizes

All Shapes and Sizes

Life insurance policies come in all different shapes and sizes. There are group policies and individual. Some have a fixed term while some go on indefinitely.  The two most common types of policies are term and permanent also known as whole life. There are many different types of term and permanent policies in the marketplace that serve specific needs. This abundance of options and trying to figure out what is the right amount of insurance can be confusing. As an insurance agent it is my job to educate my clients and help them find the policy that fits their budget and needs.

Where Can I Get It

Most people know that they can get life insurance through their employer via a group plan. The group plans are inexpensive and have little underwriting requirements. The downside is that those policies are often not portable and the individual has little say so in the amount of coverage they can obtain. Individual policies can be obtained outside of the workplace either through going directly to a carrier or using and insurance agent. 

Basic Term

A term policy means the policy has an exact time period of how long the policy will remain in force. Term policies can last for 10, 20, 25, or 30 years. One of the biggest advantages of term insurance is its lower initial cost in comparison to permanent insurance. You pay your premium and your beneficiaries will receive a death benefit if you die during the term of the policy.

What is it Good For

Term insurance is often a good choice for people on a budget, because it allows them to buy high levels of coverage when the need for protection is often greatest. Typically the greatest financial burden that is left behind is mortgage balance, education cost, medical bills, or maybe the care of elderly family members. Usually by the time the policy term ends the mortgage has been paid off, children have moved out of the house, and the fear of leaving behind a substantial financial burden has subsided.

Lifelong Protection

Permanent insurance by its name is a permanent policy. Its indefinite term and the accumulation of a cash balance make the permanent policy attractive.  As the policy accumulates cash the policy holder has the option of taking a loan out against the cash balance if they are in a financial pinch, or using the accumulated cash to buy a paid in full policy with a lesser benefit are additional features. As long as you pay the premiums and have no loans, withdrawals, or surrenders, the full amount of the death benefit will be paid to the beneficiaries. The downside to the permanent policy is its higher cost. It is a more costly policy to have than the term because it accumulates cash.

The Right Combination

Life insurance is something that is better to get sooner than later. The older you get the more expensive it will be.  The healthier you are the better the pricing. It is these two reasons that it is important to not delay in getting a policy in force. Contact the John J Suppa Agency today at 412 -238-8200. We will make sure your bases are covered by helping you come up with the right combination of term and permanent insurance.

A Look at Life Insurance

Annual Evaluation

Over the past few months I have spent a lot of time focusing on auto and home insurance. I think March is a good time to shift gears and talk about something completely different. The beginning of spring always makes me think about life insurance. I think it has something to do with the financial evaluation that takes place because of filing a tax return. Doing taxes paints a good picture of where one is financially and also takes into account any significant changes over the past year.  During this time I often take a step back and re-evaluate the amount of coverage I have and encourage everyone to do the same.

What About Life Insurance

You have insurance to protect your home, your car, your health but what about your life? Life insurance is the one that is the most often over looked. Over the next few weeks I am going to dispel some myths associated with life insurance and also discuss some of the different life products that are being offered in the marketplace.

Why is Life Insurance Overlooked

Life insurance is not the easiest conversation to have unlike auto or home insurance. You are required by law to have auto insurance and you also know the likelihood of needing to use it is high. Just look on the side of the highway the next time you are traveling. It is littered with broken headlights, bumpers, fenders, and other car parts .The same can be said for homeowner insurance. It would not be hard to find someone who had a claim because their pipes froze, ice dams ripped gutters off of the house, or had some type of fire. These incidents make insurance tangible and visible. This visual reality heightens the need to make sure one is adequately covered. This does not happen with life insurance because premature death does not occur as often as an auto or home incident.

Dealing with Mortality

One of the biggest hurdles when thinking about getting life insurance is dealing with mortality. Many people have a problem trying to conceptualize the world without them being in it. There is often a feeling of denial that something bad could happen to them. I’m too young to die, I have good genetics, I’m healthy, or I’m too busy to die are some of the more common objections I have heard when talking with clients about getting a life policy.

Everyone Needs It

The reality is we all need and should have it and if you do have a policy you probably need more. Singles, Young Families, Established Families, Empty Nesters/Retirees, and Business Owners all have need for it. Most of us will never have to use it but in the event we do the purpose is to relieve the burden on our loved ones. The most common purposes are to pay off a mortgage, pay college tuition, cover funeral expenses, pay estate taxes, or buy out the ownership stake of a business partner.

Let Us Start the Conversation

Most life policies offered through a job are not portable. Many people who work part time or casual do not get offered anything. Contact the John J Suppa Insurance Agency at 412-238-8200 and we will make sure all of your bases are covered and ensure that you are Safe with Suppa.

 

Winter Weather Woes

Winter storms are the third most costly natural disaster in the US behind hurricanes and tornadoes.  The more common winter claims include burst pipes, collapsed roofs, and car accidents. If you have been out over the past few days you instantly feel and see winter’s powerful punch. We are past the point where you can still effectively winterize your home. There are still many potential home hazards out there that  you may not have considered but it’s not too late to protect yourself from a liability claim. Here are a few ways that homeowner’s insurance can come into play over the next few days as the temperature plummets.

Icicles

Claims involving icicles are more common than you would think. When snow is melting off of your roof and then there is a quick drop in temperature that melting snow will freeze and form dangerous icicles that hang over your gutter. They can break and hit someone visiting your home or cause damage to their property. The liability portion of your home insurance would pay for the cost of defending you in court and any court awards up to the limit of your policy .Your policy also provides no-fault medical coverage. If someone is injured at your home, the visitor could submit medical bills to your insurance company.

 

More Ice

Slipping and falling injuries also go hand and hand with snow and ice. A clear driveway or sidewalk is a good start but not full proof.  Think about this scenario. You get up early to shovel your driveway and sidewalk, throw some salt down to break up the ice and then you are on your way. As the ice melts from the salt or maybe the sun peeks out and melts some of the snow your shoveled areas become wet. A drop in temperature or a kick up in the wind can instantly turn your driveway and sidewalk into an ice skating rink. This leaves you, and your visitors, your kids friends, and if you are responsible for your sidewalk your neighbors walking by more susceptible to slip and fall injuries on your property.

 

The same thing happens on the roadways. Plow trucks clear the snow and salt the roadways. The salt melts the snow and ice leaving water behind. A high wind or a temperature drop will cause the roadway to freeze over. The result is dangerous black ice that is not clearly visible and the roads needing to be re-treated.

 

A Step Ahead

Preparing a home for winter starts long before the weather turns cold and it’s always an ongoing process. Homeowner’s insurance can be looked at the same way. You want to make sure you have the right agent, the right policy, and the right homeowner’s insurance carrier before you need to use it. You want to be prepared ahead of time just like you would for any type of winter storm.

To make sure you are prepared to weather the storm you want to have a homeowner’s insurance policy with the John J Suppa Agency. Call John Suppa or Tiffany Baird at 412-238-8200 right away to review your existing policy. We will make sure all of your bases are covered and that you are Safe with Suppa.

 

 

Winter Driving Survival Part 2

Over the past week we have had two milestones that signify that the winter season is nearing the end . The Super Bowl was last Sunday and the annual event at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, PA was on Monday.  If you believe a groundhog can predict the weather then Punxsutawney Phil predicted six more weeks of winter. While traveling this week I experienced freezing rain, icy road conditions, and a driving snow storm.  I thought it would be a good idea to share more driving tips to get you through the next six weeks of winter.

 You are ready but is how about everyone else

After reading last week’s blog posting I am sure your vehicles are road ready. You have equipped your vehicles with a shovel, salt, snow brush, and emergency snacks.  Just because you are ready does not mean other drivers are as prepared or as careful as you. When driving in poor conditions I like to observe to see if the other drivers on the road are being cautious and paying attention to the conditions. Often times they are not, and I wonder what they are thinking as they speed pass a salt truck or swerve in and out of lanes while the snow comes down. 

Before you go out

It is very important and required by law to clear snow from your hood, windshield, roof, trunk, and head lights. This will help to maximize your visibility and keep chunks of snow and ice from blowing off of your vehicle and potentially causing damage to another car.  Topping off your washer fluid so you can keep your windshield clean is also a good idea. The snow and salt mixing with the dirt on the road will easily find its way on to your windshield either from driving through  puddles or being splashed back from the vehicles in front of you.

Controlling you Car

There is no way to gain control of your vehicle once you hit ice. Two wheel drive, four wheel drive, or a power redistribution system are all useful features to have but they are no match for ice. Anti-lock brakes are smart enough to control breaking when your car loses traction but nothing can slow you down on ice. If you have slipped on ice or been ice skating think about what happens when you lose your footing?  You can wave your arms, bend over front wards and backwards but most likely you are going to end up on the ground. Your car responds the same way. While driving keep in mind that posted speed limits are meant for dry conditions, not roads covered with snow and ice. You may also want to consider reducing your speed and increasing your following distance behind other vehicles to give yourself more room to come to a stop.

Be Patient

A patient driver is a good driver. Do not pass snow plows and salt trucks. The road  ahead can be worse than the road behind you. Also if there is salt, sand, and snow being blown all around from the plow truck this can impact your visibility and the truck driver may not see you either. Bridges and over passes freeze before a normal roadway so when merging on and off of highways you want to be aware of your speed.

The Best Thing to Do

The best thing to do before you head out is be aware of the current conditions and any anticipated changes in the weather pattern. Allow extra time to get to your destination. If you get in an accident the amount of time you will spend dealing with a claim will far exceed any time you may have saved from speeding. Most important of all is call John Suppa or Tiffany Baird at the Suppa Insurance Agency at 412-28-8200. We will make sure all of your bases are covered and give you the piece of mind knowing that you are Safe with Suppa.

Winter Weather Driving Survival (part 1)

A somewhat mild and quiet January is ending with pounding snowfall. The northeast is shutting down due to blizzard like conditions where some areas are preparing to get 2 to 3 feet, that’s right feet, of snow in the course of a day or two. Hundreds of flights have been cancelled, schools are being delayed and many communities are  hunkering down expecting the worst. There are many things to consider regarding vehicle safety, driving in adverse conditions, and your auto insurance. Here are a few tips to get you started.

 

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Although it may be snowing and the weather reporters are advising drivers to stay home it is reasonable to expect that people will need to leave their house. You may need to go out to the grocery store for food, pick up medicine for a sick household member, go to the office to get files and folders so you can work from home, or run out for some other miscellaneous items like salt, washer fluid, or a shovel.  While you are preparing for these unknown conditions do you know if your auto insurance policy is ready should you be involved in an accident?

 

Is your Vehicle Prepared?

Weather conditions can change in a moment’s notice. A brisk wind can drop temperatures below freezing or a light snowfall can change into a pounding blizzard minimizing visibility. During this time of year you want to make sure all of your vehicles maintenance is current. You don’t want a mechanical breakdown in the middle of a snow storm. You should not drive with less than half a tank of gas because you never know how long you could be idling in traffic. Your washer fluid should be topped off, wiper blades should be changed, and you want to make sure your front and rear defogger is working properly.   Your tires also play a major role in navigating snow covered roads. Having good tread and tires that are inflated to the proper PSI (not done by a New England Patriot Staffer) can help with traction and prevent sliding.  If you live in an area that sees regular snow fall then a set of snow tires are a good investment.

 

The Most Essential Tool

Contact the John J Suppa Agency for a pamphlet on putting together a winter survival kit. In the meantime here are a few of our tips. The most important tool to keep handy is a good ice scraper/broom, to clear snow from your vehicle. Did you know you are required by law to clear snow from your hood, your windshield, roof, and trunk of your car before hitting the road?  Failing to do so can result in a fine and even worse if a chunk of snow or ice blows off of your car and causes damage to another vehicle  you are responsible for the damage.  Have you ever been behind a tractor trailers and seen huge sheets of ice blow off or had to swerve to avoid the impact?

 

What to do Next

Before you hit the road follow our useful tips and then call the John J Suppa Insurance Agency to review your auto insurance policy. We will thoroughly review your policy, make sure all of your bases are covered, and give you piece of mind that you and your vehicle can take on the elements because you are Safe with Suppa. Call John Suppa or Tiffany Baird at 412-238-8200 to schedule your review.

Your Water Lines Can Freeze Too

News Flash….Winter has officially arrived. I will admit that I was fooled about a week ago when temperatures were in the mid 50’s. I even had my windows open so fresh air could circulate throughout the office. It was definitely temperature shock for everyone when within 24 hours there was a traumatic temperature swing that brought the thermometer down to low single digits. When there are consecutive days of negative temperatures combined with a stiff wind one thing came to my mind... Freezing Pipes.

 

Beverage Can Explosion

Have you ever seen what happens to a can of soda when it freezes?  As the liquid becomes solid it expands thus putting pressure on the container that holds it. Normally what happens is the gas builds up as the liquid crystallizes, the thin aluminum gives way, and poof it bursts leaving a sticky slushy mess to clean up.

The same thing can happen to your water pipes. Pipes that freeze most frequently are those that are exposed to severe cold, like outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, water sprinkler lines, and water supply pipes in unheated interior areas like basements, crawl spaces, attics, garages, or kitchen cabinets. Pipes that run against exterior walls that have little or no insulation are also subject to freezing.

 

What Really Happens Inside of a Water Pipe?

When water freezes, its molecules crystallize into an open hexagonal form, which takes up more space than when the molecules are in their liquid form. As the ice expands it pushes water towards the closed faucet. This causes water pressure to build up between the ice blockage and the faucet. The pipe will eventually burst under the pressure at the point where there's little or no ice.

 

Water is Leaking

If you walk into your home to find water leaking from a compromised pipe and you see puddles in the middle of your carpet you definitely have a problem. Depending on the amount of water damage you may need to call a restoration company to come in and get to work right away. They will use shop vacs to suck up the water along with bringing in high powered fans and dehumidifiers to salvage whatever they can. A common fear amongst homeowners is if I call this company is my insurance company going to pay for it? A situation like this requires fast action to minimize the damage as much as possible. A good home insurance policy will allow you to choose the company  and will cover their costs. You also have to consider what was damaged and how will it be replaced.

 

What to do next

First make sure the thermostat in your house is set at 55 degrees. Even if you are out of town keep your thermostat at 55. Drain you outdoor water lines, consider insulating your indoor lines that might be exposed to cold temperatures, and open your cabinet doors if your kitchen is up against an outside wall. Most importantly pull out a copy of your homeowner’s insurance policy and call the John J Suppa Agency. John or Tiffany will review your policy and make sure all of your bases are covered and that you have the right coverage in place. Call us today at 412-238-8200.

Homeowner's Insurance for the Holidays Part 3

Happy New Year and I hope everyone enjoyed their holidays. Now that we are in the first full week of the year it is safe to say that 2014 is officially behind us and it is back to business. I want to use this week’s blog to wrap up my series of posts regarding Homeowner’s Insurance for the Holidays. This week I want to look at insurance for your possessions.

 

Did you get what you wanted?

In early November the day after Thanksgiving sales are teased and a certain excitement is created around getting big ticket items at a great sale price. I am sure you heard the enticing ads for the early bird or door buster specials, or the after Christmas close out sales. Big ticket items include TV’s, game consoles, appliances, computers, tablets, cameras, and many other specialty electronic devices. Once the wrapping paper, the boxes, bows, strings, and packaging are cleared and these items are put together, hooked up, and mounted rarely does anyone think to themselves do I need to contact my insurance agent? Are all of these new things covered under my homeowner’s insurance policy?

 

Holiday Movie Inspiration

I will draw on inspiration from holiday movies one last time as a parallel to show how art imitates life. In the story “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” the main the character the Grinch steals every last crumb from the homes of the residents of Whoville. The Who’s wake up to find nothing left in their homes except some hooks and wire. The theme in Home Alone is also similar. The two bandits patrol neighborhoods waiting for unsuspecting families to leave for the holiday leaving their homes and possessions vulnerable to burglary. While the families are out of the home the burglars break into the home and steal everything. Silverware, fine china, electronics, crystal, and just about anything they could squeeze into their van. What would you do if you walked into a situation where you had been robbed?  Would you notice everything that was missing? Are you certain you have the right coverage on your possessions?

 

Coverage for your Possessions

Almost every homeowner’s insurance policy includes coverage for your possessions. Coverage for your possessions is separate from the coverage you have for your structure.  The best way to distinguish between the two coverages’ is that if you took your house, flipped it upside down, and shook it, everything that would fall out would be considered personal property and everything that remains inside is part of the structure and would be covered under the dwelling area of the policy.

 

How will these things be replaced?

The first thing you want to check on your policy is to make sure your possessions are insured for their full replacement cost. Without the replacement cost endorsement on your policy your possessions then become insured for their depreciated actual cash value which would leave with you with little money to replace the stolen items. If you bought a TV or a Computer five years ago and it was stolen what would the value be today?  Would you rather get the depreciated value of the item or be able to replace it with something new?

 

Let us review your policy

There are many different aspects to the personal possessions part of the insurance policy. Most carriers have limits as to how much they will pay out for certain items as well.  Contact the John Suppa Insurance Agency and let us review your homeowner’s policy. We will make sure everything is adequately covered and share with you different tools you can use to take inventory of your things. We will make sure all of your bases are covered and ensure that you are Safe with Suppa. Call John Suppa or Tiffany Baird for a review of your policy at 412-238-8200.