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Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

Outside Home

 ☐ Inspect roof and foundation for leaks, cracks, and weaknesses. Seal and/or repair early in fall while temperatures are still mild.

☐ Make sure attic insulation is sufficient, not only for energy savings but to prevent the build-up of roof damaging ice dams.

☐ Clean gutters and downspouts once leaves have fallen. Make sure they are properly secured. 

☐ Have a professional inspect and clean chimney.

☐ Check for and seal any gaps (foundation/ siding) where critters and cold could enter.

☐ Rake all leaves up so they don’t inhibit spring grass growth. Use them to mulch flower and vegetable beds.

☐ Check shrubs and trees for cracked or broken branches. Have growth over roof and close to home trimmed or removed. 

☐ Check all exterior window and door caulking; look for shrinkage and gaps, and repair if necessary. Consider adding weather stripping to windows and door sweeps to the base of doors to keep heat in and cold air out.

☐ Drain all exterior spigots/hose bibs at the shut off, even the frost free ones. Install insulated faucet covers. 

☐ Winterize central air conditioning unit.

☐ Check walkways, railings and stairs to make sure they are in good shape and free of debris that could be buried by snow and become a trip hazard.

☐ Install covers on outside electrical outlets.

☐ Replace door screens with storm windows.

☐ Have snow blower prepped and ready for first snow while weather is still mild. Make sure shovels are also in good condition and purchase pet friendly ice melt.

☐ Make sure summer gas operated machinery is emptied of fuel and properly stored.

☐ Clean and properly store all outdoor furniture and summer decorations.

☐ Drain hoses and store them indoors.

Inside Home

☐ Replace furnace and humidifier filters (have the furnace inspected and cleaned prior to use). 

☐ Change rotation of ceiling fans. 

☐ Test smoke/carbon monoxide detectors. Replace batteries. (Replace detectors every 10 years.)

☐ Test fire extinguishers. Have refilled at authorized facility if gauge is not in green. (Replace fire extinguishers every 12 years.)

☐ In kitchen: Degrease range hood and filter, clean oven and vacuum refrigerator coils.

☐ Make sure vents/openings in crawl space are closed.

☐ Clean under and behind the clothes dryer. Inspect and clean entire length of dryer vent to outside or have it professionally inspected/cleaned.

☐ Wash windows outside while temps are still mild.

☐ Make note of all large/newly purchased items over summer. Discuss with your insurance agent to make sure items are properly insured.

Create or check existing emergency kit: 

☐ Have plenty of batteries on hand for flashlights, along with candles and matches. 

☐ Stash extra blankets in easily accessible location.

☐ Have several gallons of water and non-perishable food items on hand. (Chocolate and board games optional/recommended.)

☐ Pet owners should have extra pet food on hand.

☐ Make sure emergency kit includes a weather radio.

☐ Consider purchasing extra power pack for cell phone. 

☐ Have gas safely stored for generator, if applicable.

Inside Home

Disclaimer: This information is intended for educational and information purposes only. Holt & Dimondale Agency makes no warranties or representations, express or implied, with respect to the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of this information. It is not a recommendation that a particular course of action be followed. Holt & Dimondale Agency does not assume and has no responsibility for liability or damage which may result from the use of any of this information.

How To Choose The Right Car Insurance

Choosing the right car insurance is an important process. 
In 2013, the average collision claim was $3,144. Without car insurance, you could be responsible for paying that amount out of pocket. Could you afford that?  But it’s not enough to just go out and grab the cheapest policy you can find. Cheap doesn’t always equal affordable since with lower-priced policies you could end up paying more after an accident. 
So, how do you pick the right car insurance for your situation? We’ve got some tips to help you get started. 

Check Your State’s Minimum Requirements

We aren’t saying to go with the minimum amount you need, but we are saying this is a good place to start. Every state has different requirements and most basic requirements include liability insurance. 
The most important thing to remember is that driving without insurance is illegal in most states. Whether it’s legal or not, going uninsured leaves you financially vulnerable and leaves you open to bigger costs in the long run. 

Think About Your Deductible

Before you start shopping, have a good idea of how much of a deductible you can afford. 
Your insurance deductible will directly affect how much you get paid in a claim. You can save a lot of money in costs if you have a higher deductible but this may not be something you think you could afford if the need arises. It’s all about using the right strategy which means talking to potential agents. 

Shop Around 

Once you have an idea of what you’re looking for, you’ll want to shop around and see what options are available. While many articles will advise you to make sure you’re getting the best rate, this isn’t the only thing you should be looking for. You want to best rate for what you need.
Online comparison tools offer a quick look at common rates but for a more personalized quote, you’re going to need to talk to an agent about what you need. 

Ask About Discounts

Once you start talking to agents, don’t be afraid to ask for, and take advantage of, all the discounts that could be available to you. 
There are different discounts based on different situations. If you are considered a lower risk driver, you could qualify more discounts. This could mean you’re older, married, or have a safe driving record. 
You could also save if you have anti-theft devices on your car or if you bundle home and auto insurance. These are also questions you should ask the various agents you speak to before choosing a policy. 
Other possible discounts include:

  • Low mileage
  • Winter storage discounts
  • Green car – environmentally friendly discounts
  • Retiree discounts
  • Student or student away at school discounts

Choose the Right Agency

Choosing an insurance policy is an important decision and so is choosing the person that will help you manage your insurance. The right agent will understand your individual situation and find the best policy to save you money. If you find an agent you can stick with, they will be there when your situation changes and will be able to help you adjust your policy accordingly. A new car might get one rate but when it’s not new anymore, what happens?To find the right agent you can ask around to friends and family, perform interviews, and check into their background. 
If you’re not sure which policy is right for you, give us a call. With nearly 60 years of experience as your local, independent insurance agency, you can trust the Holt & Dimondale Agency to find the best products to fit your insurance needs.

How To Choose An Insurance Agent

Whether you’re purchasing insurance for the first time, looking for new coverage, or experienced a life change that requires you to get a new agent, it can be hard to know what to look for in the company or individual that will help cover your family or your livelihood. 

Choosing an insurance policy is an important decision and so is choosing the person that will help you manage your insurance.  If you need help choosing an insurance agent, check out our advice on how to find the right agent for you. 

Before you get started you should know the difference between two important terms.

Independent Agent: An independent agent may sell policies from many different companies. 

Captive Agent: A captive agent sells insurance for only one company. 

Both independent and captive agents represent insurance companies and receive a commission from the insurance company for the sale of its policies.

So, how can you find the agent that’s right for you?

Word of Mouth

The easiest way is to ask your friends and family. If you’ve just moved to a new place, local friends might have the inside scoop on a trustworthy agent. When you get a recommendation from someone you trust, you’re more likely to have a positive experience. You know that your friends or family have interacted with this person and have come away satisfied. 

But, make sure to ask why they are recommending the agent that they are. It shouldn’t be because their dads went to school together or they always bring the best dip to the holiday party. Your agent needs to be able to fit your needs so turn to friends in similar situations and ask why they love the service they get from their agent and why they chose them in the first place. 

Perform Interviews

Choosing an insurance agent is kind of like finding great employees. Don’t just pick the first person who seems qualified. Dig a little. 

Meet with multiple people and use your time with them to ask the right questions. Offer the details of your situation and gauge their answers based on what would make you the most comfortable. You can even ask for a resume. 

Find out how easy it will be to do business with them, this means you should consider things like; are they online? Do they have online bill pay? 24/7 customer service?

You should ask how you can get ahold of your agent if you need them outside normal business hours…because accidents don’t (only) happen within the 8-5 workday. 

Today, the interview process should also include checking their LinkedIn profile and reading reviews online. Keep in mind, you’re not likely to find a company with only positive reviews so if you find negative reviews, consider the situation or even ask the agent what happened. 

Check Their Background

You’ll want to make sure any agent you choose if qualified to do business in your state. You can do this by asking for their license and making sure it’s up to date. You can also check online to see if there are any complaints against the agent or the agency they work through. 

During your interview and background checking you should find out:

  • How long they’ve been in business
  • Their mission, vision, and values
  • Company leadership
  • Any community involvement
  • Types of products they sell 
  • Financial strength.

Don’t Give in To Pressure

You shouldn’t feel pressured to choose an agent and if an agent is pressuring you, it’s a sign you probably shouldn’t choose them. A good agent knows that you need to choose a relationship that is right for you and that fits your individual needs and they will let you make that decision for yourself. Just make sure you’re getting all the information you need to make an educated decision. 

You should also remember that if an agent is hurrying to grab a deal that seems to be too good to be true, it probably is…

If you’re looking for a new agent, consider interviewing us for the position! With nearly 60 years of experience as your local, independent insurance agency, you can trust the Holt & Dimondale Agency to find the best products to fit your insurance needs.

What is Commercial Umbrella Insurance? A Guide for Small Business.

While Umbrella Insurance can help keep your business dry in a storm, it’s important to remember it can’t cover everything. A general liability extension might be a better name as it attaches to an underlying policy (auto, general liability, workers comp, etc.) to help cover you if you meet or exceed the limits of your current policy. 

Commercial umbrella insurance can provide an extra $1 million or more in coverage if your general liability insurance runs out. You can’t buy umbrella insurance on its own, but you can get it as an extension of your general plan. 

A Layer of Protection

Before you choose your umbrella policy, it’s important to understand what it is, and what it isn’t. The umbrella policy is a layer of protection from the rain, not a guarantee you won’t get wet and it kicks in when other policies don’t completely protect you. 

So what will a commercial umbrella insurance policy cover?

  • If a business is found liable and they need to pay damages
  • If a business is sued and needs to pay for a legal defense
  • If a customer is injured on their property and needs to pay medical bills
  • If a business posts a blog or post that is false and they are sued

If a payout exceeds basic liability and an umbrella policy, then you are responsible for covering the rest. In this case, all of the business assets are exposed. Umbrella insurance is used to prevent the possibility of financial ruin due to an accident, slip of the tongue or worse. 

Choosing Your Plan

You want the combination of your general liability and your umbrella policy to cover two things.

  1. All of the assets in your business, but also a
  2. The assets you might attain in the foreseeable future. 

If you are small now, but expecting massive growth over the next year, it’s a good idea to estimate the number of your assets after that growth and get enough of an umbrella policy to cover that number. 

When choosing a plan, you will want to go through exactly what is being protected in order to make sure you have the right coverage given your assets. 

When deciding, you should ask yourself, “What’s the minimum amount of coverage you can get based on what you have to lose?” You may not know the answer to this, which is why it’s important to work with an agent, but also feel empowered to make your own decisions based on your businesses. 

It’s important to note that while you can buy a policy for your business and a personal policy, the two cannot overlap. If you own a business, it’s a good idea to add umbrella insurance to your existing policy. Not sure if it’s right for your business? Find out with our handy dandy business insurance calculator. It’s a free online assessment and only takes about 30 seconds to complete.

What is Cyber Liability Insurance?

Woman typing on a keyboard

You know you need car insurance to protect your car if you’re in an accident. And health insurance to cover costs if you’re sick or injured. Home insurance in case of fire or wind damage.

But while it’s easy to visualize things that could happen in the physical world – and thus, the need to insure against them – how often do you think about what could go wrong in the digital world?

That’s the purpose of Cyber Liability Insurance.

Cyber Liability Insurance is insurance made to protect businesses or individuals from Internet-based risks. This often includes the information, images, or intellectual property transacted or stored online.

Cyber Liability Insurance: An Overview

The reality is that cybercrime is on the rise. In 2017, the US spent $1 trillion on cybercrime and is expected to hit $6 trillion by 2021. Five billion dollars alone was spent on ransomware damage in 2017…which was 15 times the cost just two years prior.

Cybercrime is growing faster than the insurance industry can keep up. As of yet, there is no standard definition as to what should be covered and what shouldn’t, but it is clear that cyber insurance should no longer be looked at as an “extra” or a “nice to have.” Too much of life happens online.  

What Does It Cover?

Because there is no standardization yet for Cyber Liability Insurance it can be hard to know what to cover or even what can be covered. So, let’s start with who it’s generally designed to cover:

  • You & Your Business. This is known as first-party coverage.
  • The People You Do Business With. This is known as third-party coverage.

Cyber Liability Insurance Coverage Limits

Before we get into what Cyber Liability Insurance covers, let’s talk about what it typically does not cover.

  • Intentional acts
  • Internally generated viruses
  • Loss of trade secrets
  • Negligence induced incidents
  • Post-breach remediation
  • Physical damage

It’s important to realize that this type of liability insurance is focused on protecting your company from a loss of data and the fallout that comes from that.

Electronic data, like information that belongs to your business like sales projections and tax records, are covered.

Data that belongs to your customers, employees or vendors are also covered.

If this data is stolen, the cost to recover it, notify customers, and pay for any damages covered by this theft, can be significant. It’s these costs that are covered by a cyber liability policy.

Other coverages include:

  • Loss of income related to a breach
  • Cyber Extortion Losses
  • Damage to your reputation
  • Lawsuits brought against you due to a breach

While each of these items may be covered by Cyber Liability Insurance, your coverage will depend on your policy and what you’ve added and what you haven’t. What’s covered and not covered will be determined by your limit and sublimit caps so it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the details of your policy.

How to Choose Cyber Liability Insurance

Because Cyber Liability Insurance isn’t standardized and highly specific to a given business, what can be underwritten, and more, you should seek trustworthy advice. Naturally, we’d love to learn more about your use case and see how we might be able to help. But, if it’s not us, please make sure you don’t neglect this coverage. You could regret it when you least expect it.