Early Spring Home Improvement Projects

Spring Home Improvement Projects - Bieritz Insurance Agency

Spring is a time of renewal and rejuvenation, and for many homeowners in our region, it’s also a time to tackle home improvement projects. With the arrival of warmer weather and longer days, it’s an ideal time to get started on projects that can improve the comfort, efficiency, and value of your home. Here are some early spring home improvement projects to consider:


Clean and repair your gutters.

Gutters play a crucial role in protecting your home from water damage, and cleaning and repairing them should be a top priority in the spring. Check for any clogs, holes, or cracks in your gutters and downspouts and make any necessary repairs. Consider adding gutter guards to keep debris from clogging your gutters in the future.


Inspect and repair your roof.

Inspect your roof for any damage caused by winter weather, such as missing or damaged shingles, cracks, or leaks. Repairing any damage now can help prevent more serious problems down the road, such as mold or water damage to your home’s interior. If your roof is more than 20 years old or showing sig

ns of significant wear and tear, consider having a professional roofing contractor evaluate it and make any necessary repairs or replacements.


Power wash your home’s exterior.

Power washing your home’s exterior is an easy and effective way to remove dirt, grime, and algae buildup, and to brighten up your home’s appearance. Power washing also helps to remove mold, mildew, and other allergens that can be harmful to your health.


Repaint or refresh your home’s exterior.

If your home’s exterior is looking faded or outdated, consider repainting or refreshing it with a new color or finish. A fresh coat of paint can not only improve your home’s appearance, but it can also protect it from the elements and improve its energy efficiency.


Install new windows or replace old ones.

Old or poorly insulated windows can be a major source of heat loss and energy waste in your home. Consider installing new, energy-efficient windows or replacing old, drafty ones. Energy-efficient windows can help reduce your energy bills and make your home more comfortable.


Upgrade your landscaping.

Spring is a great time to upgrade your landscaping, whether by planting new trees, flowers, or shrubs, or by installing a new patio, walkway, or retaining wall. Upgrading your landscaping can not only improve your home’s appearance, but it can also add value and enhance your outdoor living space.


Improve your home’s insulation.

Improving your home’s insulation can help reduce your energy bills and make your home more comfortable. Consider having an energy audit performed to determine if your home is adequately insulated and to identify any areas where additional insulation is needed.


These are just a few of the many home improvement projects that you can tackle in the early spring months. Whether you’re looking to improve the comfort, efficiency, or appearance of your home, there are many projects that you can undertake that will not only benefit your home, but also your family and your community. So grab your tools, get started, and enjoy the fruits of your labor this spring!

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William Cooper’s Vision for the Maple Sugaring Industry in Otsego County, NY

William Cooper's Vision for the Maple Sugaring Industry in Otsego County, NY - Bieritz Insurance Agency

William Cooper, a pioneer and visionary of the maple sugaring industry in Otsego County, NY, had a unique and innovative approach to the production and marketing of maple syrup. He saw the potential for the maple sugaring industry to provide a sustainable source of income for farmers and to promote the development of rural communities in the region. This vision for the industry would have a profound impact on the region and its residents for generations to come.


Cooper moved his family to Cooperstown, NY in 1790. He was a farmer, businessman, and civic leader, who had a deep appreciation for the natural resources of the region and a strong commitment to its economic development. He saw the potential for the maple sugaring industry to provide a sustainable source of income for farmers and to promote the development of rural communities in the region.


Cooper recognized that the traditional methods of maple sugaring were inefficient and wasteful, and he saw the need for modern and innovative production methods. He developed a system of providing sugaring vats to local producers in order to grow the industry in our region and then worked on transporting the finished product to Albany so that it could be shipped by river to the New York City markets.


Cooper also recognized the importance of marketing and branding in the success of the maple sugaring industry. He established a cooperative of maple sugar producers in Otsego County, which allowed them to market their syrup under a common brand and to benefit from economies of scale in production and marketing. He also established trade relationships with wholesalers and retailers in the region, which provided a reliable market for the syrup and helped to establish the industry as a key component of the regional economy.


Cooper’s vision for the maple sugaring industry in Otsego County was realized through his tireless efforts and the support of the local community. The industry continued to grow and expand over the next century, providing a source of income for farmers and supporting the development of rural communities in the region. Today, the maple sugaring industry remains an important part of the regional economy, with many families continuing the tradition of maple sugaring and producing high-quality syrup for local and regional markets.


Cooper’s legacy continues to inspire the next generation of maple sugar producers, who are committed to preserving the traditions and values of the industry, while incorporating new and innovative production methods to improve the quality and sustainability of the syrup. They are also working to promote the industry and to raise awareness of its importance to the regional economy and the local community through local and statewide marketing programs.


William Cooper’s vision for the maple sugaring industry in Otsego County, NY was a visionary and innovative approach to the production and marketing of maple syrup. He saw the potential for the industry to provide a sustainable source of income for farmers and to promote the development of rural communities in the region. His legacy continues to inspire and guide the next generation of maple sugar producers, who are committed to preserving the traditions and values of the industry, while incorporating new and innovative production methods to improve the quality and sustainability of the syrup. The maple sugaring industry in Otsego County remains a testament to Cooper’s vision and commitment to the region and its residents.

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The Craft Beverage Industry and Its Impact on Otsego County, New York Economics

The Craft Beverage Industry and Its Impact on Otsego County, New York Economics - Bieritz Insurance Agency

Otsego County, located in central New York State, is known for its rich history and natural beauty. In recent years, the county has also become known for its thriving craft beverage industry, which has had a significant impact on the local economy.


The craft beverage industry in Otsego County is a diverse and growing sector, encompassing craft breweries, wineries, cideries, and distilleries. These businesses are making a name for themselves by producing high-quality, locally sourced, and unique products that are in high demand. In turn, this has led to a surge in tourism and a boost to the local economy.


One of the key ways that the craft beverage industry has shaped Otsego County economics is through job creation. These businesses require a variety of skilled workers, from brewers and winemakers to tasting room staff and marketing professionals. In addition, the industry has helped to create indirect jobs in areas such as agriculture, transportation, and tourism.


The craft beverage industry has also had a significant impact on agriculture in Otsego County. Many of these businesses source their ingredients from local farms and suppliers, providing a valuable market for local agricultural products. This has helped to revive and sustain the local farming community, as well as promote sustainable agriculture practices in the region.


Tourism is another area in which the craft beverage industry has had a significant impact on the local economy. Otsego County is home to a number of world-class craft beverage producers, and tourists are drawn to the area to sample the products and learn about the industry. This has led to increased demand for local lodging, dining, and other tourist-related services, providing a major boost to the local economy.


In addition to its economic impact, the craft beverage industry in Otsego County is also helping to create a sense of community and place. These businesses often host events and support local causes, helping to bring people together and to build stronger relationships between local businesses and the community.


To support the growth of the craft beverage industry in Otsego County, a number of initiatives have been established. These include local marketing campaigns, business incubators, and training programs that help to provide support and resources to entrepreneurs in the industry. The state of New York has also been supportive, offering tax incentives and grants to businesses in the craft beverage industry.


There is no doubt that the craft beverage industry has had a major impact on the economy of Otsego County. Through job creation, support for local agriculture, increased tourism, and a sense of community, this growing sector is helping to shape the future of the county and to provide a model for sustainable and vibrant rural economic development. Whether you’re a local resident or a visiting tourist, be sure to sample the products and support the businesses that are shaping the future of the craft beverage industry – right here at home! 

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The Benefits of Shop Local Initiatives in New York State

The Benefits of Shop Local Initiatives in New York State - Bieritz Insurance Agency

In recent years, the concept of “shop local” has gained popularity across the United States, with many communities and businesses promoting the benefits of supporting locally owned and operated businesses. This movement has also taken hold in New York State, with many communities and organizations advocating for the importance of shopping local and supporting the local economy.


One of the primary benefits of shop local initiatives is their impact on the local economy. When consumers shop at locally owned businesses, they are supporting the local economy by keeping money in the community. These businesses are more likely to purchase goods and services from other local businesses, creating a ripple effect that helps to strengthen the local economy. This, in turn, creates jobs and attracts new businesses to the area, making it a more vibrant and prosperous community.


Another benefit of shop local initiatives is the unique and diverse shopping experiences that they provide. Locally owned businesses often offer products and services that are unique to the area, creating a shopping experience that cannot be found at larger chain stores. These businesses are also more likely to offer personalized service and to be active members of the community, creating a sense of connection and community that is difficult to find at larger chain stores.


In addition to the economic and shopping benefits, shop local initiatives also have a positive impact on the environment. Local businesses are often more sustainable and environmentally friendly than larger chain stores. They are more likely to source goods and services locally, reducing the carbon footprint associated with transportation, and to implement environmentally friendly practices in their operations.


Shop local initiatives also help to foster a sense of community and build stronger relationships between local businesses and consumers. Local businesses are more likely to be involved in community events and to support local organizations and causes, helping to create a sense of community and to build relationships with the customers they serve.


In New York State, many communities and organizations have embraced the shop local movement and are working to promote its benefits. These initiatives range from local “buy local” campaigns to events that celebrate and support local businesses. There are also a number of organizations, such as the New York State Independent Business Alliance, that work to promote the benefits of shopping local and to support the growth of locally owned businesses in the state.


The benefits of shop local initiatives in New York State are numerous and far-reaching. These initiatives promote the local economy, provide unique and diverse shopping experiences, have a positive impact on the environment, foster a sense of community, and build stronger relationships between local businesses and consumers. By shopping local, New York State residents can help to support the growth and development of their communities and to build a more vibrant and prosperous state.

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Winter Snowmobile Safety: Tips and Best Practices

Winter Snowmobile Safety: Tips and Best Practices - Bieritz Insurance Agency

Snowmobiling is a popular winter activity, offering a fun and exciting way to explore the great outdoors. However, snowmobiling can also be dangerous, especially in challenging weather conditions. To help keep you safe on your next snowmobiling adventure, we’ve put together a guide to winter snowmobile safety, including tips and best practices for staying safe on the trails.


Preparation Before You Ride

Before you hit the trails, it’s important to make sure you’re properly prepared for your snowmobile ride. Here are some tips for getting ready for your snowmobile adventure:

  • Check the weather. Before you go snowmobiling, check the weather forecast to make sure you’re prepared for any conditions you may encounter on the trails.
  • Plan your route. Plan your route in advance, taking into account any obstacles or hazards you may encounter. Make sure to let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to return.
  • Dress appropriately. Dress in layers and make sure to wear appropriate clothing, such as a helmet, gloves, and boots, to stay warm and protected while snowmobiling.
  • Check your equipment. Make sure your snowmobile is in good working condition before you go, checking the brakes, lights, and other systems to make sure everything is in order.
  • Get trained. Take a snowmobile safety course to learn best practices for operating a snowmobile and to improve your skills on the trails.


During Your Ride

When you’re on the trails, it’s important to follow best practices for snowmobile safety to reduce the risk of accidents and incidents. Here are some tips for staying safe while snowmobiling:

  • Follow the rules of the trail. Follow the rules of the trail and stay on designated snowmobile trails to reduce the risk of accidents and incidents.
  • Stay aware of your surroundings. Pay attention to your surroundings, including other snowmobiles, trees, and other obstacles, to avoid potential hazards.
  • Drive defensively. Drive defensively, allowing plenty of space between you and other snowmobiles, and being prepared for other drivers to make sudden moves.
  • Take it slow. When you’re on the trails, take it slow and be cautious, especially in challenging weather conditions.
  • Avoid alcohol. Avoid alcohol when snowmobiling, as it can impair your judgment and increase the risk of accidents and incidents.


If you Encounter an Emergency


Despite your best efforts, accidents and incidents can still occur while snowmobiling. If you encounter an emergency, here are some tips for staying safe:

  • Stay calm. If you encounter an emergency, stay calm and assess the situation.
  • Get to safety. If possible, get to a safe location and call for help.
  • Know your location. Make sure you know your location and have a way to communicate your location to first responders.
  • Stay warm. If you’re stranded, make sure to stay warm and dry, as hypothermia can be a serious risk in cold weather conditions.

Snowmobiling is a popular winter activity, offering a fun and exciting way to explore the great outdoors. However, it’s important to follow best practices for winter snowmobile safety to reduce the risk of accidents and incidents. By preparing before you ride, following safety tips while snowmobiling, and being prepared for emergencies, you can have a safe and enjoyable snowmobiling experience. So, make sure to follow these tips to stay safe and have a great time on the trails this winter!

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Safety Tips for the Home and on the Road

Safety Tips for the Home and on the Road -Bieritz Insurance AgencyAccidents and incidents can happen at any time, but taking precautions and being prepared can help reduce the risk. Whether you’re at home or on the road, there are many steps you can take to stay safe and lower your insurance premiums. In this article, we’ll provide helpful tips for reducing the risk of accidents and incidents in the home and on the road, and show how these tips can help lower insurance premiums.


Safety Tips for the Home

Home is where you and your family should feel safe and secure. Unfortunately, accidents and incidents can happen even in the comfort of your own home. Here are some safety tips to help reduce the risk of accidents and incidents in the home:

  • Install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors can alert you to potential dangers, such as fires and gas leaks, giving you and your family time to evacuate if you ever need to.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher on hand. A fire extinguisher can be a lifesaver in the event of a fire. Make sure to place it in a visible location, and train family members on how to use it.
  • Install safety features to protect yourself and your belongings. Safety features, such as deadbolts and window locks, can help prevent break-ins and protect you and your family from potential harm.
  • Maintain appliances and systems on an annual basis. Regular maintenance of appliances and systems, such as heating and cooling systems, can help prevent fires and other accidents.
  • Store chemicals and hazardous materials properly. Proper storage of chemicals and hazardous materials can help prevent accidents and fires.

By taking these precautions, you can reduce the risk of accidents and incidents in the home, and potentially lower your insurance premiums. Many insurance providers offer discounts for homes with smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and other safety features, so be sure to ask your insurance provider about available discounts.


Safety Tips on the Road

Whether you’re driving to work or taking a road trip, it’s important to stay safe on the road. Here are some safety tips to help reduce the risk of accidents and incidents while driving:

  • Wear a seatbelt. Wearing a seatbelt is the single most effective way to protect yourself in the event of a crash.
  • Avoid distracted driving. Distracted driving, such as texting and driving, increases the risk of accidents and incidents. Make sure to keep your attention on the road at all times.
  • Obey traffic laws. Obeying traffic laws, such as speed limits and stop signs, can help reduce the risk of accidents and incidents.
  • Regularly maintain your vehicle. Regular maintenance, such as oil changes and tire rotations, can help prevent accidents and incidents caused by mechanical failures.
  • Don’t drive under the influence. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol increases the risk of accidents and incidents. Make sure to have a designated driver or use a ridesharing service if you’ve been drinking.


By following these safety tips, you can reduce the risk of accidents and incidents on the road, and potentially lower your insurance premiums. Many insurance providers offer discounts for drivers with a clean driving record, so be sure to ask your insurance provider about available discounts.


Accidents and incidents can happen at any time, but taking precautions and being prepared can help reduce the risk. Whether you’re at home or on the road, there are many steps you can take to stay safe and lower your insurance premiums. By following the safety tips outlined in this article, you can protect yourself, your family, and your assets, and potentially lower your insurance premiums. So, make safety a priority

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Hiring a Contractor for your Home Improvements

Finding the right person to work with you on your home improvements can be a challenge.  In our region, it is an industry where very few have websites to provide helpful information about who they are, how long they have been in business or examples of their work.  Instead, much of our connection with potential businesses comes through social media posts and referrals.

The first logical place to begin is to reach out to discuss your project and get a quote for what you need.  Try to connect with at least two or three different contractors and compare them.  Is there something that sets one off from the others?  Maybe better attention to details for what you are looking for or maybe a better way to implement your project that can save you money?

Before making a decision on hiring someone, there are a few things that you can do to learn if a particular contractor might be a good fit for you:

  • Check their website (if they have one) and learn about the company and their value proposition for you as a homeowner.
  • Do your internet searches for their business (google, facebook, community pages, angie, houzz, homeadvisor, etc.) and check their reviews.
  • Ask for examples of their work (photos), along with references from people they have done business with recently that you can contact.
  • Are they licensed and insured for the work that they do? (Ask for a certificate of insurance that you can have on file for your project.)
  • How do they communicate?  Will they return phone calls or emails promptly within a reasonable timeframe? 
  • Are they reliable – showing up on time, letting you know if they are running late?
  • Do they provide a warranty period for the work they perform?
  • Are there any known complaints filed against them?

It’s good to keep in mind that price is only a portion of the things that go into making the decision to hire a particular contractor.  There is a level of trust and confidence in the relationship and capability that builds up over time when you know you are receiving professional craftsmanship and service for your improvement projects. Chances are, when you find the right person to work with, they will become part of your home’s history and will be someone who will return again and again to help with the work you need to get done.

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End of Summer Home Maintenance

We are all familiar with ‘Spring Cleaning’ where we open the windows after a long, cold winter and prepare for the beautiful warm summer months that are to come, but it’s also helpful to make yourself an ‘End of Summer’ list as the season dies down. Keep some of the items listed below in mind to check towards the end of August to get your home prepared and in-shape for the fall.

Before the leaves begin to fall – give your gutters and downspouts a check to make sure there are no existing clogs. Remove any brambles and seeds and run some water through to see if there are any leaks that need to be repaired.

Give your windows a fresh cleaning and seal up any gaps with caulking as you go. Leaky windows cost money all winter long with the loss of heat. If repairing and sealing isn’t enough, consider whether you want to replace them.

Similarly, check your weather stripping around your doors. These often disintegrate over time, so replacing them every few years is likely necessary to prevent heat loss and insect intrusions.

Wash your trash bins. As the months get colder, animals and rodents can be attracted to the smells from your trash bins. A quick wash at the end of the summer can reduce or eliminate those smells and help keep pesky animals frommaking unwanted visits.

Spruce up your deck – clean, repair, restain or repaint and then seal it all before the cold weather arrives.

Check your outdoor equipment to make sure everything is in proper working order to get you through the upcoming months. This includes your leaf blower, snow blower, week whackers, and other tools. If you are working with batteries, now is a good time to make sure everything is charged up!

Our team at Bieritz Insurance Agency wishes you all a happy end of summer season!  If we can help you with any of your insurance products, please contact us for a free quote and learn how we can save you money on your insurance.


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Do You DIY?

When embarking on home improvement projects, one of the first decisions is whether to do it yourself or to hire a professional. If you feel you have the skillset to undertake a particular project, then it might make sense to proceed with it. If you are not sure, remember that time is valuable – and if you make a mistake, you may likely have to do all the work over again or possibly end up calling a professional anyway. Make sure you consider your ‘worst case scenario’ and let that help guide you in your decision.

One of the most popular DIY projects is painting. A fresh coat of paint can go a long way to perk up your living spaces and it doesn’t have to be a complicated project. If you are removing wallpaper and repairing walls, however, that might be a different story. If you are doing it yourself, don’t skimp on materials. The money you save on hiring someone will more that cover the increase in cost for quality paint and materials.

Another popular DIY project is switching out your plumbing fixtures. Replacing your old faucets and showerheads can bring a whole level of improvement to your living space – both aesthetically and practically. If you have a leak that can’t be corrected due to a worn out fixture, it can also save water and expense down the road as well. At the same time, plumbing repairs can be tricky for DIY since many homeowners don’t have access to the same tools or expertise as a professional. One wrong move can result in a bad outcome if something breaks – so be prepared for contingencies and have your plumber’s phone number on hand in case something goes wrong.

DIY tiling is another popular home improvement project. A good place to begin might be something small like a backsplash area around your sink or your stove. These types of projects can have a beautiful, personal flair – and will last for a very long time – so make sure you love it or find colors that will blend in well if you change your color schemes in the future. If you are working in areas where there is water, be sure to seal everything appropriately to avoid damage.

If you happen to have skill with wood and woodworking tools, there are a lot of things you can work on – from shelving, to seating, tables, racks and more. If you have an interest in these types of projects, consider taking a local course to better understand the craft and begin practicing with some simple projects.

Finally, if you do decide to take on some of your own home improvement projects, be sure to check with your local codes departments to see if there is any permitting that is required. Find out if there are any permits or inspections that need to happen as you progress through your project and what the procedures and timelines are. This will go a long way towards having a great experience and will save a lot of time and headache down the road.

Remember, if you are making improvements for your home, contact our team at Bieritz Insurance Agency to see if any updates to your homeowner’s policy are needed. We are happy to provide you with information and guidance!

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Insurance Protection Check for the Summer Months

sparklersThe summer months are ones we look forward to all year long, but they bring certain risks along with the great summer weather.  After our long, cold, winter months, we are all more than ready to be outdoors and enjoying fun times with family and friends.   To minimize your risks, you can do a quick insurance protection check to make sure you are ready for the summer months.

  • If your summer includes a home pool, you can make sure you have specific safety measures in place to prevent accidents and drownings.  Have a fence with a locking gate is a great way to protect your pool from young children. Make note of those who can swim and make sure that any non-swimmers are geared with appropriate flotation devices.  For young children in a pool, consider using ‘touch supervision’ – where an adult is within touching distance of any young child in a pool, in order to react quickly in case of an accident.  While your homeowners coverage will cover some of your liability if an accident should happen, it likely will not be sufficient for any catastrophic incidences.  To assure protection, consider increasing your liability protection with a separate umbrella policy.

  • If you enjoy boating during the summer months, remember that boat owners are liable for any accidents.  Unlike auto insurance, boat insurance is not mandated (unless you have a loan on your boat, in which case your lender will likely require this).  Auto insurance does not cover boat owner liability.  Check with our office if you are in NY State to get a quote on coverage for your vessel and passengers.

  • Severe storms and hurricanes are more and more common as we head into a new ‘climate-changed’ world, so remember that flood insurance is a separate policy, often not covered by your homeowner’s insurance.  This is especially important if a hurricane is not a ‘named storm’ as identified by the National Weather Service.  While our inland properties are at less risk than coastal lands, you should likely still make sure you are protected.  We can help answer any of your questions about this coverage.

  • As we head into the 4th of July weekend and Fireworks season, there is a greater risk for personal injury and home damage from fire as a result.  Other than small poppers and sparkling devices, fireworks are illegal in New York State for the general consumer.  If you have damage that is the result of the use of illegal pyrotechnics, you can pretty much count on your insurance company denying any claim for coverage.

  • Grills, Barbecues and Lawnmowers are three of the biggest sources of home-based summer injuries.  Outdoor cooking areas should be monitored closely when in use, with a designated attendant, and small children should be restricted from those parts of the porch or yard.  The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that mowing should be done only by those who are old enough to safely operate the equipment – 16 or over for riding mowers and 12 and over for push mowers.

  • With school out of session for the summer months, there is typically a surge of teen drivers on the road – going off to summer jobs or heading off to see friends or spend a day at the beach.  If you have a teen driver, take the time to talk to them about road safety, particularly in terms of the use of cellphones while driving.  Set some rules for safety – turning off their phones when in a moving vehicle (there are apps for this), driving at or below the speed limit, using caution when driving near bicyclists, being aware of areas with greater pedestrian traffic during the summer months, etc.

Summer can be a great season.  Take some extra time to consider safety factors for best peace of mind, and give our team at Bieritz Insurance Agency a call at 607-547-2951 if you have any questions or if you need more information.  We are happy to assist you!




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Safety in the Outdoors

Outdoor recreation activities over the past few years (since the onset of COVID-19) has boomed with people throughout the U.S. looking for safe spaces with fresh air and good opportunities for socially distanced recreation.  Here in New York, there are parts of the Catskills that were inundated with so many people, trails were closed in order to protect them from foot traffic.  This surge in interest in outdoor activities has also spurred increased visitation at National Parks throughout the country.  Those numbers continued to increase in 2021 – with close to 300 million visits and record high numbers in forty-four parks.

If you are planning on traveling to some of our country’s beautiful outdoor recreation spots this year, please be sure to plan ahead for safety.  Some basic practical tips can help to make your trip a great one!

When traveling out of town for vacation, remember to practice safe online and communications protocols.  If you use social media, don’t post that you are going away, or the dates you will be gone – instead, save your pictures and trip posts for after you return.  Also, make sure to stop at your post office and have them hold your incoming mail until you return.  Mail piling up at your home is a good indication that no one is home, and can be enticing for break-ins and theft.  You can also have a neighbor or friend stop in each day you are away to bring in your mail and do a general house check.

Bring or buy a paper map for the area where you are traveling.  While our phone maps and GPS systems typically work very well, they are not failsafe and you should always have a backup in the event you are lost.  Keep emergency supplies with you in your car with blankets, extra water, dry goods, etc. in case you get stuck somewhere and have to wait for help to arrive.  A portable first aid kit is also a welcome addition to any backpack if you end up needing to travel on foot for a distance in the elements.  Remember that a locked car can get very hot very quickly, so if you bring your pets along with you, be sure to take them out at rest stops – use picnic areas or pet friendly outdoor dining areas for meals so they can stay with you.

Be aware of local wildlife and research safety protocols.  When camping, make sure to tie up your food and hang it out of reach to prevent bears and other wildlife from being attracted to your site.  Take your trash with you and don’t harass the local wildlife.  Leave animals be and give them a wide berth, and typically they will ignore you.  Know what to do in an emergency situation.  If you are visiting the coasts, learn the warning signs for sharks, and stay within approved swim zones with lifeguards and lookouts.

Learn about ticks and other hazards in the area you will be visiting.  What poisonous plants, reptiles, insects are in the area – learn how to identify them and how to prevent and/or treat any rashes or bites.  If you are hiking, be sure to wear and bring appropriate hiking gear, shoes, rain gear, etc. and if you plan on biking, make sure to use a helmet.

Our country has some amazing places to explore – locally, throughout the state and all across the US.  Travel, explore, enjoy – and be safe!

Our team at Bieritz wishes everyone an amazing summer season with special times with families and friends.  Make amazing memories and contact us at 607-547-2951 for all your insurance needs.  We are happy to help you!


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Basics of Insulation Options for an Old House

Living in a classic old house is a privilege. Older homes can evoke a sense of beauty, love, charisma.  They have a level of character and craftsmanship that are no longer seen in todays modern houses. However, during the cold winters, an older home can be quite uncomfortable.  If you are looking into insulation, you may find the information here to be helpful. 

Houses built in the midst of the 20th century were not well insulated. They had a natural ventilation system that allowed their walls to be hollow for it to “breathe” through it. Sitting in your living room on a cold winter night will tempt you to get the walls insulated the next morning.

One of the basics of learning about insulation is “R-Value”. The R-Value is the ability of the insulation material to resist heat and avoid its transfer from one place to another through that material. Usually, it is measured between 1.5 to 7 per inch, and the higher the value the better insulation it can provide to keep your home warm.  Before beginning any insulation project, you should also research your local codes as sometimes there are specific requirements for what minimum R-Value is required for attic, walls, etc.   

Here are a few options for insulating your old house, along with their R-value for comparison:

  • Fiberglass Insulation

Fiberglass insulation is the most common type of insulation used throughout the United States.  It typically has an R-value between 3.1 to 3.4 per inch. It is placed loosely into the stud bays of walls and rafters, allowing it to trap as much air as possible.   Additionally, an air barrier on the external wall helps to stabilize the efficiency of the insulation by preventing cold air from moving into the wall cavity in cold conditions.  

  • Spray Foam

The R-Value of open-cell spray foam insulation is about 3.6 to 3.8 per inch. It is easy to install as it can be blown inside and expands quickly, and you can shave off the excess as it covers the entire wall cavity. If you are spraying it in the cavity, it takes 6 to 8 seconds to set, but when you pour it into the wall cavity, it takes 5 to 8 minutes to fill it up. 

  • Closed Cell Foam Insulation 

This insulation is another form of spray-foam, but it is tough and rigid with a much higher R-Value of 6 to 7 per inch (about double that of the other regular insulation).  It also tends to be one of the more expensive options.  Closed cell insulation is best used on new construction projects as it has to be fitted into an open cavity of the wall and cannot be retrofitted. So, unless you are tearing out your interior walls of your home as part of your renovations, closed cell foam insulation is likely not a viable option.  

  • Cellulose

    Cellulose has an R-Value of 3.6 per inch. It is newspaper chopped up finely and mixed with boron or boric acid, which serves two more purposes. It acts as a fire retardant and also makes the insulation pest resistant. Moreover, it fends off mold, wood decay, and corrosion.  Thorough safety tests are conducted for open flammability to ensure the insulation is fire resistant.

    The cellulose is inserted with a blower, typically into the wall cavity with 2 holes, one in center and one at top. It is misted with a bit of hydration and then packed into the stud bay.
    A vapor barrier or retarder can be used depending on where you live in the country. This ‘loose-fill’ insulation will degrade and settle over time and it’s typical lifespan is in the range of 20-30 years.

Controlling the movement of Vapor in the insulations above:

Warm air contains a good deal of moisture and will always move towards colder air.  This warm, moist air needs to be prevented from entering into the wall cavity and coming in contact with the insulation.   A vapor barrier, like polyethylene is typically used for this purpose.  It can be stapled to the wall sides and should always be placed on the warmer wall, so if you live in a warm climate, it should be placed on the exterior wall, but in cold climates, it should be placed on the interior side. When the climate is different throughout the year, like here in NY, the vapor can collect on the backside of your drywall during summers, and the vapor barrier will not let it dry out. Hence we can use a vapor retarder that allows the stud bay to breathe and the vapor to escape. 

 If you are doing any major remodeling at your home, don’t forget to let your insurance company know.  Our experts at Bieritz Insurance will be happy to document your updates and assist you in finding your best options and rates if any changes are required.  Contact our team for an appointment or call our office at 607-547-2951.  We are happy to assist you with all your insurance needs. 


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Why You Should Regularly Re-Quote Your Insurance Policies

Most people know that there are some logical ways to save money on their insurance. Bundling your auto and homeowners insurance with one carrier and agency can qualify you for a discount.  You can use higher deductibles or drop some of your coverage levels. You can take driving safety courses or install security systems.  These are all things that you can control and adjust as you need to.  What you might not realize is that insurance pricing changes on a regular basis and is driven by many different factors.  The general recommendation is to re-quote on your policies every 6-12 months.

Some of the factors that influence your rates are completely out of your control – things like your age, gender, where you live (crime rates and average age), the economy.  On the other hand, there are some things that you can control – things like the kind of car you drive, your driving history, your credit history.  A speeding ticket or other moving violation can increase you insurance rate by up to about 25% according to an analysis by Forbes.com.  An accident with a bodily injury claim can cause your premium to increase an average of 46% and this can go even higher if there is extensive property damage of $200 or more (ValuePenguin/LendingTree).  Most companies do take into consideration whether or not the driver was at fault, but this can sometimes be difficult.  Points for moving violations stay on your records for about 18 months, so if those have cleared, you should re-quote on your policy and typically will find some savings there on your premium.

Similarly, your credit score impacts your insurance rates.  A very good credit score can reduce your rates by as much as 24%.   Poor credit can increase your rates by over 60% in comparison to an average credit score.  Getting a quote for your insurance does not impact your credit score.   Different companies will weigh your credit score differently, so it is helpful to compare quotes between carriers to see where their premiums come in.  If you have been actively working to improve your credit score, then it is definitely worth looking into what rates are out there with your improved credit profile.

Our team at Bieritz Insurance welcomes your inquiry.  We are happy to do the legwork to find your best options in the insurance marketplace – for auto, homeowners, business insurance and more.  Contact our team for an appointment or call our office at 607-547-2951.  We are happy to assist you with all your insurance needs.

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Transitioning your Home from Fossil Fuels to Electric

New York State is making a huge push to help homeowners and businesses transition out of fossil fuel dependence.  Through NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority), there are currently a number of programs and incentives that can make it possible for homeowners to begin this process.  Although incentives for home solar systems have been around for at least a decade or more and are being phased out a bit, there is still time to configure a home system that can work out to being very close to expense neutral – shifting your payment from your existing utility company to a loan payment for a solar installation.  In some cases, the federal and state tax credits (which can be taken over the course of two years) are refunded to the homeowner and then paid to the loan provider as part of the loan agreement to minimize a good deal of the up-front cost.

In addition to solar incentives, there are currently programs for insulation, heat pump systems for home heating (mostly for geothermal systems currently), heat pump hot water systems, electric vehicle chargers, as well as continued support for energy smart appliances.  For homeowners who want to fully transition, there are discounts, rebates, tax credits and financing options available with some qualifications required (based on income, location, etc.).

If you are interested in learning about what might be possible for you, a good place to start locally is through the Otsego County Conservation Association’s HeatSmart Mohawk Valley program.  Their staff can give you an overview of what might be available for you and will guide you to the resources and application through the NYSERDA portal. They regularly offer overview webinars to help answer questions about how systems work and where to begin so that you can assess your energy usage and needs in order to configure the right systems for your home.  They can also help direct you to NYSERDA recommended service providers (many of which are local businesses) who can also assist you with navigating the process for qualifications for the NYSERDA incentives.

These kinds of home energy upgrades help to make your home infrastructure more climate-friendly by significantly reducing your annual household CO2 emissions (something we should all be acting on),  alleviating existing strains on our energy grid, and increasing the assessed value of your home.  Carbon based energy is a finite resource which is sure to become increasingly expensive, particularly if/when our governments (federal and state) decide to stop providing subsidies for fossil fuels.  Finding a solution to provide our own energy to heat and power our homes is very likely going to be far less costly.

If you plan on making some of these changes to your home (or business), contact our team for a quote on what you can expect for your insurance.  We are happy to assist you at either of our offices: Bieritz Agency, 209 Main Street, in Cooperstown or Morris Insurance Agency, 128 Main Street, in Morris.  You can also feel free to contact us through our website using our Request a Quote Form.  We look forward to hearing from you!



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Can we save you money on your Snowmobile Insurance?

It’s the time of year when our snow-loving neighbors venture forth on wintery trails throughout our region.  According to the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association, in 2021, there were over 1.3 billion snowmobiles registered in the U.S. – over 100,000 of these are in New York State. New York offers thousands of miles of snowmobile trails that wind their way through some of the most beautiful and scenic parts of the state including the Catskill Mountains and the Adirondacks.


Each year, between December and March, we receive a number of calls for quote requests for snowmobile insurance.  As an independent agency, we have the opportunity to work with a diverse selection of insurance providers and can often find products and policies that are specific to your needs, often at a great price.  Our team will work with you to determine the amount of coverage required and will research your options, answer your questions, and assist you in finding the right policy. 


Securing your insurance through a local, independent agency assures that you receive professional, personalized service with people who are part of your community. It means that you have someone to contact and help you with the process if you need to file a claim. 


To find out if we can save you money on your snowmobile insurance, call our office at 607-547-2951 or use our “Request a Quote” form located at https://bieritzinsurance.com/request-a-quote/.  

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Your Year End Insurance Assessment

The transition from one year to the next is often a time of reflection about our lives.  We assess the things that we might like to change to make our lives a bit better, feel happier, healthier and more productive.  Just as we make assessment of our personal habits, we can assess our surroundings as well.  The new year allows us the opportunity to step back and reflect on ways we can make our households run more efficiently – maybe with some re-organization, or updates, repairs and improvements to our home in ways that make sense for our budgets and our future.

If you made improvements to your home over the last year, or if you are planning any in the upcoming months, don’t forget to review these updates with your insurance agent as these changes can sometimes impact your policy and your coverage.  Ask your agent to provide you with updated quotes – and remember to include all your insurance products particularly if they are bunded for additional discounts.  Heading into a new year with some instant savings can feel pretty good!

In addition, consider any other major purchases or life changes that you are considering or will be making, as these can also impact your policies.  Your insurance provider will be able to advise you on the coverage changes to consider as well as any cost increases or reductions that you might qualify for.

Regularly making these assessments at the end of each year can keep you informed and can allow you to be prepared for the impacts of changes that are on the horizon.  The pdf linked below from American Modern provides a good checklist to help guide you in your year-end assessment.  If you have questions or need any additional help, contact our team at Bieritz Insurance in Cooperstown, NY at 607-547-2951.

Insurance Year End checklist

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Hunting Season Safety – for Hunters and Non-Hunters

The month of November is an exciting time for hunting enthusiasts as our avid outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen start gearing up for the start of deer hunting season.  The season typically begins each year early in the November for Crossbow hunting and then opens up a few days before Thanksgiving for the regular season for rifle hunting.  The regular season extends into mid-December.  According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, close to 700,000 New York State residents and over 50,000 out of state hunters take part in these opportunities each year.  Hunters who travel to Central New York to enjoy part of the season are an important part of our regions’ fall tourist economy.  These people, along with our local hunters also play an important role in local conservation efforts to manage our deer populations.  Having a safe hunting season – for both hunters and non-hunters – is an important part of upstate living.

Wear bright clothing

The preponderance of hunting-related shooting incidents in New York State involves a victim who was not wearing bright colored clothing.  If you are a hunter, New York State (as of June 2021) requires all big game hunters who hunt with a firearm to wear a solid or patterned fluorescent orange or fluorescent pink hat, vest or jacket.  If you are not a hunter but are outdoors in places where hunting activity might be taking place, wearing bright colored clothing immediately makes it known that you are not a deer or other prey item target.  Choose colors that are highly visible in wooded areas (reds, oranges, bright pinks).

Clearly identify your pets

Similar to humans, pets should also be clearly identified with bright colored accessories such as a vest, leash, coat or bandana.  If you have a hunting dog that accompanies you on your outings, you want to be sure that they are properly outfitted.  If you are a non-hunter out hiking with a pet, make sure that they are also clearly identified as non-prey.  Orange vests for dogs are available at almost any pet supply store as well as many sporting goods stores.

Be aware of others and be courteous

Situational awareness is a critical part of safety during hunting season.  If you are hunting, try to make sure others in the area are aware of your presence. If you are a hiker, consider alternate locations where hunting is not permitted for your walk.   If you should come across someone who is hunting, make sure they see you and recognize that you are there.  Be respectful (don’t make lots of noise that might disturb wildlife or take other actions to interrupt hunting in the area).  If you hear shooting nearby, you should raise your voice to let hunters know you are in the area.

Let others know your plans

A good safety practice in general (hunting season or not), is to let others know where and when you are going and how long you are expected to be there.  For hikers, you can make use of a park office and ‘check in’.  For hunters, make sure you have permission to hunt on private land.

These easy, common sense tips can help make the hunting season safe for both hunters and non-hunters.  Safety is critical to a successful season for all.




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Fall Fire Safety Checklist – Now’s the Time

The winter months bring greater fire risks for homeowners.  According to the Red Cross, house fires generally increase during the fall and winter months, with December and January registering the highest numbers.  There are tasks that every homeowner should do each fall as a preventative measure to reduce the dangers of a house fire.

Schedule with your service provider for a home heating system inspection and maintenance.

Changing out your filters and cleaning out any buildup from the prior year can help make your system run more efficiently.  In addition, if you use fuel oil or propane, your annual maintenance can identify if there are any leaks that can cause fires or other contamination.  If you use stationary or portable space heaters, make sure they are placed in a location far from things that can burn like furniture, clothing, and bedding.  (National Fire Protection Association data puts 81% of home heating fire casualties as a result of space heaters.) Similarly, items that are too close to your hot water heater can also be hazardous and potentially could catch on fire.

Check your fireplace and chimney and schedule for a cleaning.

Soot and creosote (which results from burning wood and fossil fuels) can build up inside of your chimney and catch fire if not cleaned regularly.  It can also be a hazard for smoke exposure.  Most chimney fires are quiet and slow burning, and can cause severe damage to your chimney system (flue lining, brick mortar) and to your home (roofing, celings, walls, structural beams).   Having your chimney inspected and cleaned each fall helps to reduce or prevent your risk of a chimney fire.

Stoves can also be a source for home fires.

The best prevention here is to never leave your stove unattended and make sure that there are no combustible materials (curtains, dishcloths, etc.) nearby.  Clean your stove regularly to remove any grease or flammable grime from your cooking surfaces and turn off your stovetop immediately if you see smoke coming from the bottom of your pot or pan when in use.

Make sure you have working fire extinguishers and smoke detectors.

Preventative measures can make a big difference.  The ability to recognize when there is a fire and to put the fire out quickly can be a life saver.  For a home fire extinguisher, the general guidance is to test or recharge them every 5-6 years and to replace them every 10-12 years.  Some fire extinguishers will have a tag that will show the maintenance schedule or expiration date.  If you need to use your fire extinguisher, make sure to have it recharged or refilled so that it is available is you should need it again in the future.  Changing your battery in your smoke detector once a year is about the simplest thing you can do to make sure you are alerted if a fire should start in your home.  That warning is an important part of protecting your home and your family from the dangers of a home fire and can help save lives.

Check on your extension cords and don’t overload them.

With all of our tech devises and gadgets nowadays, it’s easy to have the need for a lot of plugs without the availability of a lot of outlets in our older homes.  Choose the right extension cord for the job and use it as directed – know the wattage capacity of the cord and the wattage use of the devices you plug into it.  Check for overheating or signs of damage regularly.  Overheating at the plug area, the wall socket or the cord itself are all signs that something is not functioning correctly and the cord should be immediately unplugged.  Extension cords should also have fuse protection (a blown fuse will cut off electicity to stop overheating that can cause a fire) and should be listed by a national testing laboratory ( look for UL, ETL or CSA).

In the case of fire, as in so many other things in life, we can look to the adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.  Take some time to check for hazards and rest more easily knowing that you are being as safe as you can be.  To make sure you are protected with the right insurance coverage, contact our team in Cooperstown, NY at https://bieritzinsurance.com/contact-us/.  We will be happy to assist you in finding the right product to affordably meet your needs.






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School Bus Rules of the Road

A Short Safety Refresher for the Back to School Season in New York

school bus rules of the roadThere is nothing more important than the safety of our children in getting back and forth to school.  Whether they are walking, riding a bike or traveling in a school bus, it is imperative for drivers to be constantly aware, patient and exercise caution.  Take a look through the following information for a refresher on School Bus Rules of the Road.


First of all, have patience when driving.  Leave yourself extra time for your morning and afternoon commutes, especially if you travel during the typical school pick-up and drop-off times of day in your area.  School busses make frequent stops, so be prepared for this and drive carefully.  Slow down so that you can get where you are going on time and without incident.


In addition, driving in the fall and winter seasons can be slippery.  Wet leaves during the fall and snow and ice conditions in the winter and early spring can be hazardous and make it more difficult to stop safely.  The best preventative measure for an accident is to reduce your speed when driving and be vigilant about intersections, crosswalks and general travel routes to and from our local schools. Don’t follow a bus (or line of following cars) too closely.  You are at a disadvantage when you can’t see what might be ahead, and if a bus slows suddenly to avoid a hazard, you don’t want to be in a situation where you collide with the vehicle in front of you.  


When a school bus is getting ready to stop, their lights will flash yellow.  This is your indication to begin slowing down and prepare to stop your vehicle.  All traffic must stop when the lights turn to red and the bus is actively loading or unloading passengers.  This applies to cars that are behind the bus (no passing allowed) as well as to vehicles that are traveling in the opposite direction – even if it is a divided highway.  If the red lights are on and the stop sign is out, all traffic must stop until the bus gets back underway.  Your car must be at least 20 feet away from the bus when you are stopped.

NYS DMV Where to stop for a school bus with red lights flashing

Image from New York DMV – where you must stop for a stopped school bus. 


Many busses now are equipped with cameras to capture information about vehicles that pass a stopped school bus and violations can exact some hefty fines and penalties for violations. Points for driving infractions can increase your auto insurance costs and premiums, and convictions can even result in jail time.


For full information on School Bus Safety from the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles, please visit https://dmv.ny.gov/more-info/school-bus-safety.  For help with all your insurance needs, contact our team at Bieritz Insurance at 607-547-2951 or submit our web contact form at https://bieritzinsurance.com/contact-us/.


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Think about Insurance BEFORE you Need it

Think about Insurance BEFORE you Need itOne of the most important things we can tell our clients is to think about insurance before you actually have a need for it.  If there is one thing we have all learned over this past year, it is that life can be unpredictable.  While it may be hard to imagine the kinds of things that can happen that upend our lives, there are some systematic ways to assess some of the basics.

Take Time to Review Your Coverage

An annual review of your insurance coverage is a process that can help you to evaluate your risks, along with any changes that might be needed to your policies.  What home improvements have you recently made? Are you planning on making any changes in the coming year?  Are you looking for a job change? Did you have a child ? Have you purchased a new car?  Do you have a teenager ready for a learner’s permit or new drivers license?  Are you protected in the event of a fire or a flood?

It’s hard to prepare for the unknown and unexpected, but if you take some time – even just for a few hours once a year – to consider whether or not to make changes to your insurance to more accurately protect your assets (and yourself), the value can be tremendous.

In light of today’s construction costs, it may cost more than you expect to rebuild or repair your home.  Is your coverage keeping up with inflation?  Does your current insurance policy still protect you in the event of an emergency?  Check with our team to learn if you are covered in the event of an accident or natural disaster.  We may be able to help you make modifications to your policy to make sure you are properly protected.

Just over the last 10 years, we have seen several flood events in our region with communities that have been hard hit with damages.  With changes to our climate, these events are likely to occur more and more frequently.  If you are not sure if you would be covered in a similar type of event, schedule an appointment with your team so that we can help you interpret your policies to make sure you are secured with a level of protection that makes sense for your specific needs.

If we could tell you one thing, it would be “Don’t put this off”.  Take the time today to assess your risk, document your current assets and their value and take action to protect yourself with appropriate coverage – before you need it!  As always, our team is ready to assist.  Call us for an appointment at 607-547-2951 or submit our Contact Form Here.

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