Before a Flood: How to prepare

Article courtesy of

Is flooding imminent in your area? IBHS offers resources on what you can do when a flood is expected in your area from a personal safety perspective and a property preparedness perspective.

First, it is important to listen regularly to your local news and your local emergency officials for any updates on the situation; flooding can sometimes happen quickly. You can find the latest forecasts and hazardous weather conditions at and In addition, some smart phones are able to receive Flash Flood Warning alerts via the Wireless Emergency Alerts system. Visit for more information.  You also can learn more about common types of flooding and what flood warnings mean on NOAA’s website at

While you are taking personal safety precautions, such as preparing an evacuation kit with important papers, insurance documents, medications and needed items for your family and pets, IBHS recommends you take the actions on this checklist to reduce property damage to your home:


 Clear drains, gutters and downspouts of debris.
 Move furniture and electronics off the floor, particularly in basements and on first floor levels.
Roll up area rugs, where possible, and store them on higher floors or elevations. This will reduce the chances of rugs getting wet and growing mold.

 Inspect sump pumps and drains to ensure proper operation. If a sump pump has a battery backup, make sure the batteries are fresh or replace the batteries.

 Shut off electrical service at the main breaker if the electrical system and outlets will be under water.

 Place all appliances, including stove, washer and dryer on masonry blocks or concrete at least 12 inches above the projected flood elevation.

How Travelers is reinventing homeowners' insurance with data

Travelers is ramping up investments in both self-service digital platforms and the smart home, with the goals of gathering more customer data, expediting payments and educating policyholders on best home-maintenance practices.

The company is currently piloting a do-it-yourself home inspection tool for homeowners in select Northeastern states. Customers are able to snap and upload photos to Travelers mobile app at the time of a new policy purchase, instead of waiting for an inspector to complete an on-site physical assessment.

In September, the insurer also announced the launch of two new website tools: Home Central and Open House. Home Central connects homeowners with tips about buying, selling and renovating a home, while OpenHouse, created in partnership with data aggregator BuildFax, allows consumers to search for addresses and receive a snapshot of the work that has been done to the property. Travelers then informs potential buyers when a roof was last replaced; or the dates of any other major upgrades completed.

The company’s latest home-insurance offering, Quantum Home 2.0, is aimed at helping agents and individual consumers bind coverages using a new quoting tool that simplifies language on policy documents.

“The biggest difference between 1.0 and 2.0 is it’s not one size fits all,” said Eric Nordquist, SVP of personal insurance product at Travelers. “We offer strong segmentation to classify risk, but wanted to have a much more flexible product out there. Every customer is different, so we opted for value-added packages.”

Eric Nordquist, Travelers

Homeowners can now create personalized à la carte style coverages through a compilation of services, including decreasing deductibles and loss forgiveness; appliance breakdown protection; full coverage on water damage; and discounts for owning smart-home devices guarding against fire, burglary and water leaks. Travelers is in ongoing discussions with multiple vendors to distribute smart devices to policyholders in exchange for sensor data, Nordquist says.

“The more safety devices you have in the home, the better potential there is for keeping it safe,” he added. “Debate, in terms of the magnitude of their impact, will continue as the market matures.”

The carrier is already pulling third-party data on residential properties in order to prefill online applications for Quantum Home 2.0 applicants. The goal is to improve quoting speed by reducing the amount of questions asked to clients and accurately determine replacement costs of a home. Variables such as total square footage, number of bathrooms and age of roof are factored in underwriting, Nordquist says. Gathered data is collected via a third-party vendor source Travelers denied to identify.

Thanks to its new quoting and data tools, first launched to customers in November, Travelers is collecting five times more data today than it was with its initial roll out of the product, it says. Screen time for users is also down 30%. Quantum Home 2.0 is currently available in Colorado, Oregon and Wisconsin. The company expects to announce additional states the platform will launch in by mid-2018.

Danni Santana

Danni Santana is associate editor of Digital Insurance.


Home Insurance in a Disaster

A great article regarding  the California Wild Fires and Home Insurance.

What’s In A Home Insurance Policy: Know The Details Before Your House Burns Down

Posted by Financial Samurai

Here’s a home insurance primer on what is important when purchasing a policy. We lost our home, but by being well insured we are covered for not only our possessions and rebuilding, but also for our rental.

After the fires, both home prices (for sale) and rental prices sky rocketed. Classic market supply and demand with a steroid boost of large amounts of insurance money. So not really classic market supply and demand.

That is why Loss of Use Coverage is so important and the first thing we talk about today.

Coverage D: Loss of use and rental

Renters Get Squeezed

In the land of fire and mass chaos, owning is way better than renting (seems counterintuitive, but true). I talked to many people who are renters who have been evicted since the fire. The landlords asked their tenants to leave so that either the landlord or one of their family/friends who lost a home can move in. 

This puts the tenants in a bad position because now they are stuck in a town with a housing shortage and now a high price point. They have no choice, either pay more for a similar rental in town or move further out of town. Plus, unlike those who are insured and lost their home, tenants being evicted have no insurance to help them through this. Lose lose.

Many Owners With Insurance Came Out Fine

For owners it is better, but it is only as good as the home owners insurance purchased. I am well insured. My insurance pays for my rental up to two years because the Tubb’s Fire was a Federally declared disaster. If it was just a run of the mill house fire, I would still be covered for 1 year. There is no monetary limit to my rental. Insurance covers an equivalent rental to my home.

So I was able to get a nice rental and not worry about the monthly rent. I will potentially be living in my rental until October 2019. While insurance is paying a lot for my rental, it still is not as much as one friend who has insurance paying $34K a month…yup, $34,000 a month. On the other end is one of my friends, who has a maximum cap of $14,000 for her rental. That means that her insurance will only pay a total of $14,000 for the entire 2 years. Ouch.

First lesson of insurance – make sure you are well insured for not only dwelling and personal property, but also loss of use. This will make your housing situation much better after the loss of your home. Clarify how much coverage you have.


We have determined that being a owner versus a renter at the time of a disaster likely puts you in a better financial situation with insurance, but what insurance should home owners (and renters to some extent) obtain?

I personally am insured by a large, reputable insurance company who is always on your side. Thus far they have gone by the books and been quite helpful. In fact, by the end of this process I will likely own my land out right, have no mortgage, and have increased my net worth by about $600,000. Granted, I have to replace all of my possessions but that can be done deliberately and slowly. Oh, but I don’t own a home anymore.

But still, a massive increase in net worth is quite the silver lining from this tragedy. Plus all the stress from owning a massive house with a massive mortgage is now gone.

Onto the insurance policy

Insurance coverage is broken down into various coverages.

  • Dwelling: Coverage A: Dwelling
  • Other structures: Coverage B
  • Personal property: Coverage C 
  • Loss of use: Coverage D 
  • Personal liability: Coverage E 
  • Medical pay each person: Coverage F

The limits for these items are visible on the insurance policy declaration page.

These are each important, but Coverage A is the most important.

Coverage A: Dwelling

This is the most important part of the insurance coverage. Coverage A dictates how much the insurance company pays for rebuilding a home. By law, if I rebuild they have to give me at least my Dwelling maximum to rebuild.


There are also extensions to this coverage. For instance, I had a 125% coverage extension. This means that they will pay an additional 25% of my maximum if I rebuild. This is an additional $200k for me to rebuild. I even realized after the fact that I could have purchased a “guaranteed replacement cost extension”.

If I had purchased a guaranteed replacement cost extension, then there would be no question about rebuilding as insurance would cover it all. There are 3 companies I know of that have guaranteed replacement cost: Chubb’s, Nationwide, and AIG. If insured with one of these insurers, it may be worth switching to guaranteed replacement cost.

The payment

I thought that insurance will pay out all 100% right off the bat, but unfortunately that is not the case. The insurance company will come up with their own build estimate and from that depreciate the cost of things such as paint, roofs, flooring, etc.

It is not as bad as it sounds. For instance, in my case they depreciated about 1.5% of the home. Once I rebuild, they will pay the full amount.

Also remember that this initial payout is a starting/negotiation point. Right now I have received one big check but am coming back to the insurance company with my builders estimates which are higher than what the insurance company estimated. Time to negotiate!

Coverage A (i.e. dwelling) is the most important part of the insurance coverage. This needs to be enough to rebuild an equivalent home and it is up to you to make sure it is adequate. Generally, increasing the limit leads to only a small increase in the overall annual policy premium.

Another important part of Coverage A is to be insured for “Replacement Cost.” Some insurances offer “Actual Cash Value.” Actual cash value only pays the depreciated cost of the home, meaning the insurance company will only pay for a 20 year old roof and not the cost of a new roof. The difference in reconstruction costs will be covered by out of the owner’s pocket. Not so good if you ask me.

With a “replacement cost”policy, the insurance company may depreciate the home for the initial payout, but will pay that actual replacement cost once the item is built or purchased. This can lead to thousands of dollars when rebuilding.

Coverage B: Other Structures

Another reason the price point of Coverage A is important is because all of other Coverage limits are set by the Coverage A limit.

For instance, I am covered for Other Structures via Coverage B. This includes patios, external fireplaces, fences, and the outdoor kitchen. The maximum insurance will pay me for Other Structures is 10% of my Coverage A. So if I have a $1,000,000 Coverage A limit, I get $100,000 for Other Structures. If my Coverage A limit is $500,000, then I only get $50,000 for Coverage B.

Coverage C: Personal Property

Coverage C or Personal Property coverage is the amount given for all of the items lost. T-shirts, speakers, kitchen appliances…all that stuff we accumulate over a life time. Another way to think of it is that if I took my home and turned it upside down, anything that falls out is paid for by Coverage C.

Getting the insurance company to pay Coverage C can be a bit painful. While they paid a portion of the money up front, I. Had to itemize everything in my home to receive full payment. From underwear to Q-tips. Rugs, couches, and stuffed animals. We spent approximately 75 to 100 hours to itemize every single item.

This was probably the most painful part of the process. We had lost  our home and now had to revisit each item again for the insurance company. This was accompanied by a 3 hour recorded interview. Brutal. Please take pictures and itemize all your belongings in a spreadsheet before you need to. 

The insurance company will take the list and depreciate it based on age and condition. They will pay out the depreciated cost. Again make sure you are insured for “Replacement Cost” and not “Actual Cash Value”. If you have “Replacement cost” coverage you can submit receipts as you buy items for the insurance company to pay the difference.

Side note, to be able to claim casualty losses in my 2017 taxes, I had to itemize. For the IRS I can deduct the difference between my depreciated value of items and what insurance paid me for these items. Unfortunately with the 2018 tax overhaul I believe this deduction goes away in the future.

Once again, Coverage A (Dwelling) limit dictates the Coverage C limit. For us it was 60% of our Coverage A limit and I think that is fairly standard.

Other coverages

There are also other coverages that come with good insurance.  We had coverage for Debris Removal (10% of Coverage A), Landscaping (5% of Coverage A), and Building Code Upgrade (20% of Coverage A).

There is also coverage for Personal Liability (Coverage E) and Medical Pay for Each Person(Coverage F), and these limits can be adjusted as needed.



Deductible Cost

I am actually surprised as to how cheap good insurance is. My insurance cost approximately $1,300 annually with a $1,500 deductible. After this experience I would happily pay $2,000 annually for a higher coverage amount. Nothing is worse then being underinsured after loosing a home. Insurance has by far been the best return on investment I have ever made.

Here are some detailed quote comparisons from that are useful. You can click the chart to learn more.

Sample home insurance quote comparisons

Fire coverage?

Finally it is worth noting that I did not have additional insurance. I had my regular old home insurance and it covered all of the loss. This is not like an earthquake or flood that needs an additionally purchased insurance policy.

My policy covered the fire whether it was a natural disaster or a house fire. Some of the additional protections I received were due to this being a Federally declared disaster and living in a consumer protection state like California. But no, I did not need fire insurance.

This is good, because I would never have thought to ask separately for it. In fact, when I went to bed at 1 AM I saw a red glow over the hill and did not even realize it was a fire.

If there is going to be a fire though, in many ways it is best to have a complete loss like we did. Total destruction so that the insurance company can not argue about what is salvageable.

My neighbor was not so lucky. His home is standing between 2 burnt homes. He had a lot of smoke damage and is house is not habitable currently. He is fighting tooth and nail with the insurance company about his coverage. The insurance company is arguing everything should be cleaned. He has two young kids and is arguing that the home needs to be stripped to the studs.

It is brutal to hear his stories of the back and forth discussions he is having. Not a fight I want to have. He did loose everything, but because his home is still standing receives much less support. I am moving forward while he is still arguing with insurance.

Our home after the fire


It pays to be well insured. I will not claim I knew much about property insurance when I bought my home. In fact, my insurance broker set this policy up for me and has been working with me throughout the claims process. I never even read the entire policy before this. I was by no means an expert, but now have a lot of first hand experience.

This is what I recommend:

  1. Call the insurance company and ask for a copy of the full policy. This document should be 50 to 70 pages long.
  2. Make sure to have an adequate Coverage A (Dwelling) limit. This is the coverage that will dictate all of the other coverages. It should be high enough to cover rebuilding a equivalent home.
  3. Purchase “Replacement Cost” insurance and not “Actual Cash Value” for both Coverage A (Dwelling) and Coverage C (Personal Property).
  4. Consider an extension for the Coverage A limit. My extension was for 125%, but other’s have 150%, 175%, or even guaranteed replacement cost. It is worth the small increase in annual cost if ever needed.
  5. Jump through the hoops that the insurance company lays out. I am impressed by my insurance company thus far. As long as I am doing what they ask, they have been quick and reasonable with payments.

There you have it. One man’s experience with insurance after a major fire.

Sam’s note: Hopefully everyone calls their respective home insurance companies this week and asks what their coverage entails. Although it’s terrible to lose a home to a natural disaster, what a silver lining to be $600,000 wealthier thanks to a mandatory home insurance policy that only cost $1,500 a year in premiums. Further, EJ was in his house for less than a year, so the sentimental attachment wasn’t as great compared to someone who had owned their home for 20 years. His story about the night the fire came is a gripping read that will spur you into action.

A natural disaster destroying my home was always in the back of my mind. Only after I sold my rental house in 2017 did I feel a sense of relief that I was able to get out unscathed since my rental house was in the Marina, an area prone to liquefaction during a large earthquake. It’s very interesting how our minds insulate us from potential disaster risk by making us forget. 

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


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.



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.



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. 



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.



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.


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.