Snowmobiling Safety Resources

snowmobiling safety resourcesSnowmobiling is fun, but it doesn’t come without potential risks.  The ability to take a snowmobile for an exhilarating and challenging ride sometimes far away from civilization and in freezing temperatures comes with the responsibility of making sure you know how to operate it, of knowing the area you’re riding in, and of knowing what to do should things go wrong.  Learning regulations, precautions, and other safety tips helps to ensure that the risks of riding don’t become reality.  Although reading about them can feel like a chore, having them behind you gives you a confidence that can boost enjoyment of the activity altogether.  

The following are resources about snowmobiling safety that cover many of the ways you can exert more control over your ride, and through that, gain the freedom and fun that you might have sought in the first place.

  • SnowmobileCourse.com www.snowmobilecourse.com/usa/newyork/snowmobile-laws.aspx
    A short highlight of laws and regulations mostly regarding age, one exception to them, and a brief reminder of safety practices.  This site also includes links to more detailed information about the laws and regulations of snowmobiling, links to more information about Fresh Air Educators Inc.’s New York State Approved Snowmobile Safety Course, as well as to more information about how to obtain the required snowmobiling safety certificate.

  • International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association (ISMA) www.snowmobile.org/snowmobiling-safety.html
    A longer and more detailed cautionary that covers alcohol use, awareness one’s own abilities and limits as well as that of their machine, snowmobiling gear and other ways of dressing for the weather, hypothermia, respecting others’ property, knowing the route and informing others about the plan, driving over ice, and driving in the dark.  It also included a Safe Riders! pledge to riding safely, as well as links to ordering safety brochures and to a test.  Lastly, the site described their Safe Riders! Snowmobile Safety Awareness Program, and offered a link at the bottom of the page in a picture to beginning it.

  • SnowTracks
    http://snowtracks.com/snowmobile-safety/
    Another longer and detailed cautionary article that opens with ultimately asking riders to prioritize safety while driving.  It continues with a cautionary about different conditions to be on the lookout for, such as thin ice and hidden obstacles beneath snow, and then it strongly deters against mixing alcohol and snowmobiling.  It also details what to do if the vehicle breaks through the ice, and then advises on keeping a repair kit for the machine, along with other maintenance necessities.  It finally addresses the environment, and talks about how to respect it and adapt to it, as well as how to determine risk to oneself from it.  

Freedom on the snow comes with the responsibility of investing in caring for oneself, one’s mode of travel, and one’s surroundings.  Doing so grants us more security that fun is all that is had on snowmobile outings.

If you are looking for information about insuring your snowmobile, give our team a call at either of our offices in Cooperstown at 607-547-2951 or in Morris at 607-263-5170.  Be safe and enjoy the snow!

 

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What to do After an Auto Accident

No matter how careful we are as drivers, car accidents are a fact of life: millions occur in the United States each year.  As such, it is important to be prepared for them, even as we do our best to avoid them while behind the wheel.  

car-accident-1660670_640Stock your car with…

  • Safety Tools: carry cones, flares, and warning triangles to warn traffic, a phone for calling for help, a flashlight for night light, and a first aid kit.
  • Emergency Information: carry a list of contact numbers, documents with information about any particular medical conditions that are pertinent for you and your family, insurance cards to exchange, and instructions about what to do after an accident.
  • Recording Tools: carry pen, paper, and a disposable camera to collect information and to record what happened.

Stock your brain with…

  • Appropriate Medical Knowledge: know how and when to use a first aid kit, and understand that it might take time for injuries to present themselves.  Call an ambulance when in doubt about the extent of your own or another person’s injuries.  A loss of consciousness can indicate a concussion or a closed head injury.  A person who is unconscious or who has neck/back pains should never be moved unless there is a more pressing threat to their safety – and only then, by supporting their neck and back or moving them as little as possible.
  • Insurance Information: know your coverage in regards to towing and renting cars.
  • Instructions about what to do after an accident.

Your priority should be health and safety.  ⅕ car accidents lead to death.  Don’t leave the scene.  Breathe and try to be calm.  Once you are aware of your own injuries and you are able to, check on your passengers.  Check on the other drivers and passengers.  Set up cones, flares, and warning triangles to avoid further collisions.  Move vehicles out of traffic, and if you can’t, remain inside of them with seatbelts fastened and the emergency lights on.  Always call the police.  Call an ambulance if you are unsure about your own or anyone else’s injuries.  

Most car accidents only involve property damage.  There are many legal and insurance matters to take care of in this respect, even while still on the scene.  

While still on the scene…

  • Talking to the Police: Don’t apologize or say the accident was your fault.  State only what you are certain of and tell the officers if you don’t know something.  Don’t make guesses.  Ask the officer for their name and badge number so that you can retrieve their report later for your insurance company.  You must get your report from the state police if the accident took place on a highway.  Make sure the statements of other passengers and drivers are factual as well.
  • Collecting Information: Record the situation – the date and time of your accident, the specific location where it occurred including road names and landmarks, the speed limit of that road, the direction of travel of you and other drivers at the time of the accident, the visibility and weather conditions during your accident, as well as any road hazards.  Take pictures of damages to your car and document all injuries.  Ask all drivers and passengers what they saw, and get their names, phone numbers, addresses, driver’s license numbers, license plate numbers, and basic insurance information.  If the driver’s name is different from that of the person listed on the insurance information, establish the relationship and take down that person’s information if they aren’t already a passenger in the car.  Ask any witnesses what they saw and if they know of any other accidents happening in the same place, and also collect their names, phone numbers, addresses, and how they are connected to the area (residents, workers, passersby).  
  • Don’t Decide who will Pay for Damages: Even if the accident is minor, injuries can present themselves after some days and weeks have passed, and thus the amount needed to pay could be a lot more than expected.

Soon after leaving the scene…

  • Obtain the Police Report: If it comes to it, it can help you prove fault.
  • File a State Vehicle Accident Report: They are available at police stations and on the DMV website.  They help insurance companies speed up the claims process.
  • Call your Insurance Agent:  Tell them what happened and what the damages and injuries are, and go over the police report with them.  
  • Get a Property Damage Valuation: This will be available through your insurance company.  Before and after photos of your vehicle are helpful for this.  
  • Call an Attorney: They may be able to help you get a proper damage valuation as well.  They will protect your rights and make sure that evidence is not destroyed.  It may do well to consult them before giving statements to insurance companies.  Also consult them before signing settlement contracts.  Don’t settle too early.  Don’t tell any attorney or insurance agent other than your own about the situation.  If someone else calls, refer them to your attorney or your insurance agent and ask them to arrange an interview.  Let your attorney and insurance agent know that someone called you.  
  • Keep Track of Your Health Care: Make a list of all the health care providers you’ve visited and all of the resulting expenses.

Car accidents happen.  No matter how much or how little personal or property damage is involved, the process for claims and settlement takes time.  Knowing what to expect and having guidance for what to do in these situations can relieve some of the panic and help avoid consequences of being unaware.  If you have any questions, our team at Bieritz is here to help!  Contact us in Cooperstown at 209 Main Street, Cooperstown, NY 13326 (607) 547-2951 or in Morris at 128 Main Street, Morris, NY 13808 (607) 263-5170.

 

 

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Driving Safely in the Fall and Winter Months

The wet and snowy road conditions characteristic of the fall and winter months in the north are driving hazards that can cause skidding (sliding) and hydroplaning (in which a car drives on top of water).  Luckily, there are plenty of ways to avoid incidents such as these in the present and coming months:

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  • First of all, eliminate distractions in order to focus.  Phones should be silenced, turned off, or stored away where they can’t be reached so attention can be devoted to the road.  You are allowed to ask passengers to silence their own devices if they are distracting you as well.  It may also be helpful to set up a 5 minute quiet time at the start of your journeys before turning on music or talking in order to get a feel for the road conditions and how you might need to drive that day.

 

  • Prepare your car for the season.  Lots of fall rain and winter snow requires effective wiper blades for on-road awareness.  It also requires tires with effective grip.  Worn-down tires are more at-risk for hydroplaning over wet leaves, and they won’t be able to guide the car out of trouble as easily as tires with good grip.  Furthermore, whereas regular tires in the winter cold become stiff and more breakable, snow tires are made out of softer rubber that can better adjust to the surface of the road.  They also have special grips that latch onto snow and ice on the road, decreasing the likelihood of skidding and providing more traction in guiding the car out of it.  
  • Drive slowly this season, slower than you would in the warm and dry months.  Drive slowly through puddles, if they can’t be avoided, and over wet leaves to prevent hydroplaning.  Do the same through snowfall; on hills, shifting into a lower gear can help the car stay attached to the road, and thus prevent skidding.  Additionally, approach overpasses, bridges, shady areas, and curves with caution.  The first three may be more at-risk for morning freezes, while curves are often places that people find themselves driving too fast.  Rain and snow can make these situations more dangerous.
  • Maintain a safe distance from the cars ahead of you in order to allow yourself enough braking time and to minimize potential damage.
  • If snowfall or leaves cover road lines, do your best to stay aware of and within them.
  • Brake gently to avoid hydroplaning and skidding.
  • If rain or snowfall makes you uncomfortable, pull over onto the side of the road in a safe location, turn on your emergency lights, and wait until the rain or snow passes or until you feel you can drive confidently again.  
  • Lastly, in the event of skidding or hydroplaning, try to remain calm.  Do not touch the gas or the brake, but steer gently in the direction you want to go.  If your rear wheels are sliding, steer to the right or the left depending on where they are sliding, and then straighten the wheel when the car itself straightens on the path you want to take.  Once you regain better control of direction, gently brake if the front wheels have been sliding, or gently accelerate if the back wheels are the culprits.  This is for the purpose of redistributing the weight of the car to the wheels that have been skidding in order to return some of their traction.

Driving always comes with some hazards, but in the northern hemisphere, there may be more times in the fall and winter that require particular caution.  Do your best to stay aware of road conditions and drive as they demand of you.  Make sure you are comfortable, focused, and prepared to take on the road and its hazards.  In this way you can do your best to maintain your own safety, that of other drivers, and that of each your own passengers.  

 

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Entrepreneurship and Your Business Insurance

From the Insurance Information Institute:

The i’s on Insurance: [Not So Risky] Business

Being an entrepreneur makes you the boss! But along with getting to choose your own hours, location, and business plan, it also means that you’re responsible for a lot of other things, like commercial business insurance. There’s a lot more to business insurance than getting the lowest business insurance quotes. It means understanding your business’s unique needs and the potential hazards that can threaten its success.

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The Importance of Maintaining Your Chimney

chimneyThe Fall Season has officially arrived in our area with the first frost (last night) and the cooler temperatures means that it’s time to start using our fireplaces and wood-burning stoves to help warm a room or to take a bit of the chill out of the air.  Before you begin to use these, however, it is recommended to inspect and clean them to make sure they are safe to operate.  According to the National Fire Protection Association, this should be done at least once a year, usually in the fall months.

A chimney inspection will check for soundness, freedom from deposits and correct clearances.  Even if you don’t use your chimney often, there may be nesting materials from animals or other types of deterioration that make the chimney unsafe to use.  A chimney sweep will clear out any sooty buildup in the chimney (1/8″ can be enough to cause a chimney fire that could damage the chimney or spread to the home), and will typically also include cleaning of the chimney flue and smoke chamber.  Sooty deposits are also very acidic and can shorten the life of your fireplace and chimney.

Over time, chimneys may become clogged with creosote, a by-product of burning wood.  This builds up over time and leaves a highly combustible glazed coating on the inside of the chimney.  Creosote build up is often caused by poor air supply, so your regular chimney cleaning helps to prevent creosote formation as well.  Chimneys with poor air flow can also cause the buildup of carbon monoxide in your home.  At low levels, carbon monoxide can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, confusion and fainting, and at high levels, it can be deadly.
When a chimney is not cleaned regularly, there is the chance that soot will accumulate around the flue which inhibits the ability to draw smoke up the chimney and instead causes smoke to enter the room.  A black film around your fireplace, or on nearby furniture, carpeting or decorations, this indicates that your chimney is not working properly.

fireplaceIn addition to annual maintenance, we encourage our families, friends, and clients to always use safe fireplace practices:

  • use appropriate fuel for your fires;
  • use fireplace screens to protect nearby areas and provide a reliable barrier from embers;
  • maintain a safe zone of 36 inches or more around your fireplace or stove;
  • never leave a fire unattended
  • install monitoring equipment for smoke and carbon monoxide

Taking these steps help to protect your family and your home.  If you have any questions about your homeowners insurance and chimney fires, please contact our team at Bieritz Insurance Agency – located Cooperstown at 547-2951 and in Morris at 263-5170.
 

For additional information, click on over to our article on Fireplace Safety.

 

 

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Your Old Home can be a Smart Home

nestJust because you have an older home doesn’t mean you can’t make it into a smart home.  Many new home constructions are integrating smart home technologies into design, but even if you have an older home, there are systems you can implement in your home to manage systems that address security, locks, lighting, and heating/cooling.  Making your home a “smart home” can help save energy, time and expense and you might be surprised to find that installing some of these smart features can be affordable and can be done yourself!

 

Home security  

High definition security cameras are contained within an outdoor smart light and are placed at your home’s entry areas (plugged into your existing power so you don’t need to worry about battery replacement).  They detect activity outside your home and send you a mobile alert. From your phone app (from anywhere), you can adjust the lighting, view the camera feed, talk with a delivery person via 2 way intercom or activate a pre-recorded message or a siren.  

 

Smart Locks

Many smart locks for your home entry come with keypads as well as integrated ID with your smart phone that recognizes you as you approach and unlocks your door for you.  You can add and remove access codes for guests as needed. Some systems also have random numbers that will generate prior to use of your PIN to assure that any visible wear on the system keypad is evenly spread across numbers.

 

Smart Lighting

Lighting systems for inside your home typically include a wireless system and specialized light bulbs that allow you to customize your lighting needs – turning off lights when you leave your home, turning on lights when you are arriving home, adjusting lighting remotely when you are on vacation.  Some smart systems detect when you are in a room and when you leave and will adjust accordingly as well.  

 

Heating and Cooling

A smart thermostat for your home learns your preferences and habits, automatically warming your home when you get up in the morning and cooling your home in the evening while you sleep.  These systems typically will automatically adjust for seasonal changes and will provide your with reports about your energy savings (reports estimate a 10-15% savings on energy costs).  They can be integrated into older homes, but if you have lathe-and-plaster walls, you may want to hire a professional installer.  

 

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Dog Days of Summer – Keeping your home cooler on a budget

August is typically the hottest month of the year here in the Central New York region, and perhaps the only month that we struggle with trying to keep our homes a bit cooler.  In many cases it doesn’t make sense to install air conditioning for the short period of time that it might be needed.  Considering the small window of time that they are used, air conditioners can significantly increase your electricity costs.  If you find yourself on a budget but still needing to make your home more comfortable during the heat of the season, these ideas may be helpful to you!

  • One of the easiest things you can do is to keep your blinds and curtains closed, especially during the hottest parts of the day.  This one thing can help to keep your home about 20 degrees cooler.  
  • Allow cool air to freely circulate inside your home.  Open up doors between rooms, especially during the cooler nighttime hours. Opening your windows at night will also help to cool your house down.  
  • Consider using your outdoor grill instead of heating your kitchen with your oven and stovetop, and drink plenty of cool beverages to keep your body temperature down.  
  • Run your ceiling fans counter clockwise to draw warm air up to the ceiling and allow cooler air to flow back down to your floors where you spend your time.  You can also run your exhaust fan for a period of time in your bathrooms to help pull warmer air out of the house.  
  • Changing out your bed linens to lightweight cotton will also help to keep you more comfortable during hot weather.   
  • Try switching out your incandescent light bulbs which throw a lot of heat for cooler fluorescent CFL’s.  
  • And if all else fails, don’t forget the fan!  A small breeze can help you feel more comfortable, especially if you use a mister to slightly dampen your skin so that the fan evaporates the moisture and makes you feel cooler.  

 

For a few additional ideas and tips, check out the video below from PG&E

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Backyard Fire Pit Safety

camping-700215_1280Outdoor fire pits have become an increasingly popular outdoor home accessory.   If you have a fire pit or are considering adding one to your yard, here are a few things you should think about for safety.

Siting:

  1. Check with your local building codes officer to determine if there is a legal minimum distance for placement of your fire pit from any built structures on your property (your home, sheds, etc.).
  2. Typically you want to place your fire pit in an open area with seating arranged with plenty of space for guests to maneuver around the fire without coming too close.
  3. There should be good ventilation around the fire pit as well.

 

Safety:

  1. Use seasoned hard woods like oak or maple for your fires as softer woods (pines and cedars) have a greater tendency to pop and splinter when burned and can cause burning embers to fly.
  2. Start your fire with kindling only and avoid using lighter fluids of any kind in your fire pit.
  3. Use a screen to cover your fire pit to keep any stray embers from flying out.
  4. Never leave a fire pit unattended and keep a careful eye on children when the fire pit is in use.
  5. Don’t allow blankets or loose flammable clothing (nylons) near the fire pit.
  6. Keep a bucket of water or sand nearby to fully extinguish the fire when you are done (or use a garden host set for a wide gentle spray), and allow coals to fully cool for 24 hrs. before disposal.

 

Insurance:

  1. Check with your insurance company to find out if your policy holder requires you to declare use of a fire pit at your home.

If you should have any questions about your insurance, please feel free to contact our team at Bieritz Agency in Cooperstown (607) 547-2951 or Morris Insurance in Morris at (607) 263-5170.  We are happy to help you!

 

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Travel and Rental Car Insurance

Do you need to purchase extra Rental Car Insurance on your trip?

businessman-805880_640Summer vacation travel season is here!  If you are planning on heading out of town and using a rental car for your trip, you might find some of the information here helpful.  

Typically, when you are renting a car while on a personal vacation, your regular auto insurance policy will cover you for most of your needs. If you are traveling for business, your personal auto policy will not cover damage if you are renting for a business trip.  If you have insurance for auto, renter or homeowner, you are likely already covered for liability, personal accident and personal effects coverage.  The only coverage you might consider adding is additional collision damage insurance for a rental car.  You can purchase this coverage to also include loss of use charges should a vehicle need to be repaired after an incident.  This coverage can often be purchased through your private insurance provider for a minimal daily charge – far less than the upsell through a car rental agency.

If you are not covered by a private policy, you may be able to add rental car coverage through your major credit card account.  Check with Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express through the phone numbers on the back of your cards.  To receive the coverage through a credit card company, you must charge the entire rental on the credit card and decline the supplemental collision damage coverage offered by the rental company. It is important to note that you can’t have both.  Coverage through the credit card company may have additional restrictions based on the length of the rental term, the type of vehicle you are renting, or what country you are renting from.  

Another option is to purchase special travel insurance for your trip, to help cover your trip investment.  Travel insurance helps to cover your trip investment if you have flight cancellations due to illness, injuries, weather incidents or other travel related issues.  It can help you replace lost baggage, theft of property, tour operator bankruptcy, and more.   Travel insurance also has the option for adding collision coverage for a rental vehicle as part of your vacation insurance package.

What rental car insurance can do is protect you from a surcharge on your policy premium for a claim on an accident when driving a rental car.  It also can protect you from ‘loss of use’ charges when the rental car has to be off the road for repairs.  If you are declining additional coverage, always make sure you take the time to read the fine print on your rental contract before signing for your vehicle, and make sure that it indicates that you are declining the additional insurance.  

If you have any questions, check with our team at Bieritz Agency before your trip so we can help to advise you on what makes the most sense for you.  We offer two convenient locations in Cooperstown and Morris.

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Spring Project Ideas for your Property

house-insurance-419058_640Spring is a great time of year to look around your home and decide on areas that could use a good refresh.  Many homeowners keep a list of projects that they would like to do – now is the time to start crossing a few of those off your list!  If you don’t have a list, but want to make some updates before the summer months, here are a few ideas for some outdoor and indoor projects.  Some of these will depend on the amount of time and money you have to spend.  

Outdoors:

For a good outdoor cleanup, consider renting a power washer on a nice sunny spring day and use it to remove dirt, debris, mold, moss and other materials from your deck or your driveway, the outside of your gutters and maybe even your siding.  

If painting is your thing, you could give a fresh coat of paint to your outdoor furniture pieces or maybe repaint your entry door or your house trim.

Landscaping work can include adding a new garden area or sprucing up an existing one.  Spring is a great time of year to clear out leaf litter between your house and your shrubs too!

Indoors:

You might add a new rug, buy a new piece of artwork or invest in a good furniture item, or maybe change out your window treatments to let in more sunlight.  Try slipcovers for a new look for older furniture pieces.

A change in your lighting can make a big difference as well.  If you have an older kitchen, perhaps you might like to update an old appliance or re-invigorate your kitchen cabinets with a new color.

Add a fresh coat of paint to a room or rooms.

Improvements and Your Insurance:

If you decide to do any major improvements on your home, check in with our team at Bieritz Agency to see if there is any added insurance protection you need during or following your renovations.  You may want to add big ticket items that you purchase to your contents items on your policy.    If you don’t already have a content list, check out our post from last November on Cataloging your Possessions for Insurance.

You can contact our team in Cooperstown at Bieritz Insurance Agency, 209 Main Street , Cooperstown, NY 13326 –
607-547-2951 or in Morris at Morris Insurance Agency, 128 Main Street, Morris, NY 13808 – 607-263-5170.  We are happy to help you!

 

 

 

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Trees and Your Insurance

Spring is a good time to check your property for tree damage.

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Spring weather can be erratic, as we well know this year from our April sub-freezing temperatures and snow storms.  Despite this, we can say with certainty, it will begin to warm up.  As your yard becomes walk-able once again, we encourage you to take a trip around your property to look for any damage to your trees.

If you have a tree that falls on your property and it hits your home or your auto, you are protected for repairs under your homeowner’s insurance policy.  If you have a tree that falls on a neighbor’s property, their homeowner’s policy should cover any damages.  Some of these claims can get complicated, so we would encourage you to check with your office if you have any questions in this circumstance.

Typically, if you have a homeowner’s policy with a high deductible, the expense for a claim may cost more than the cost of the removal of a potentially hazardous tree.  We encourage all of our homeowner clients to take steps towards prevention of damages each year, during the spring months.  Inspect your property and look for any potential hazards (trees that are diseased, branches that are unstable, etc.).  Do some trimming or tree removal when/if needed.  Check with a local company to find out when their busy season is so that you can schedule for removal in the off-season when costs might be a bit lower.

A once a year property inspection can end up saving you headaches down the road and can save you money!  If you have any questions about your homeowner’s policy or other insurance products, please call our offices in Cooperstown at 607-547-2951 or in Morris at 607-263-5170.  We are happy to help you.

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Home and Household Tax Deductions

tax-468440_640With just a little more than a month left for filing tax returns this year, it’s a good time to think about what things might qualify for an extra deduction.  In addition to your mortgage and some loan interest payments, some of your 2015 household improvements might be deductible.  

Home improvements eligible for deduction or tax credit include:

  • Installation of new storm doors or energy-efficient windows, insulation, air-conditioning or heating systems can qualify for an energy efficiency tax credit of 10% or up to $500 ($200 maximum towards windows).

  • Renovations and improvements to your home due to a medical condition may be tax deductible.

  • Solar and wind power systems can qualify for as much as 30% of the equipment cost and installation under the renewable-energy tax credit.  This credit will continue into next year for systems that are installed before the end of December 2016.

Home office tax deductions:

  • Home office deductions for those who work from home can include deductions for expenses relating to a qualified office for things like phone lines, heating, electricity, and renovations as well as a portion of your mortgage interest, property taxes and insurance.

Household education deductions (for children attending college or for your continuing education expenses):

  • The American Opportunity tax credit is worth up to $2500 per  year for qualifying expenses related to the first four years of higher education.  Student must be enrolled in a degree or credential program.  The Lifetime Learning Credit, $2000 per year, is not restricted to the first four years of school.  There is also a Tuition and Fees Deduction – for up to $4,000.

If any of these items apply to you in 2015, be sure to check with your accountant to see if you are eligible for any of these deductions.  Don’t forget to provide documentation. Also, make sure that any improvements to your home are documented for your homeowners insurance.  If you have questions about this, please contact our team at Bieritz Insurance in Cooperstown at 607-547-2951 or in Morris at 607-263-5170.  We are happy to assist you!

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Fireplace Safety

Despite the fact that this winter has been mild so far in comparison to the last two years, the months of February and March are still key months for fireplace use. By keeping in mind the following fireplace safety tips, you can protect your property and the lives of your family and neighbors.

  • Inspect and clean your chimney and fireplace once a year (typically in the fall) to remove soot and creosote build up and to make sure they are able to operate safely. A chimney professional will use specialized vacuums to clean the firebox, smoke chamber, damper, smoke shelf and flue liner and will report on any system deficiencies found. They can also check the chimney and cap for deterioration or signs of damage.
  • Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on each level of your home, and keep them in working order.
  • Test your fireplace with a few small pieces of seasoned wood to make sure that smoke does not enter the room.
  • When operating your fireplace, make sure you remove any combustible materials from the area around your hearth, and use a mesh screen to keep embers in the fireplace. Glass fireplace doors should be kept open when a fire is burning so that the fire receives air to complete combustion and reduce creosote build up in the chimney.
  • Use the correct wood – dense wood types (oak, ash, maple) that have been stored in a dry area for 6 months or more are best – split wood dries more thoroughly and burns better than whole logs. Firewood should be stored a minimum of 30 feet away from your home.
  • Never use flammable liquids to start fires – use matches or a commercial firelighter, and never burn cardboard, trash or debris.
  • Do not close dampers until the fire is completely out.
  • Clean out excess ash so that it doesn’t impede airflow for your fire. An inch of ash at the bottom actually helps to maintain a fire. Ashes can take several days to cool completely. Keep them in a metal container located at least 10 feet away from any buildings.

 

fireplace3-pixabayThe expenses associated with maintaining your fireplace and chimney each year are minimal in comparison with the costs of a fire. We urge all our clients, family and friends to take the steps necessary to assure safe operations. If you have questions about your insurance coverage in the event of a fire, please contact our team in Cooperstown at 547-2951 or in Morris at 263-5170.

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