Preparing for Snowmelt

Tips to prevent flooding with the coming thaw.

snow-melt-comicYes, we’ve all had enough of the cold weather and snow this winter and many of us are looking forward to seeing it all disappear …but, all that water has to go somewhere.  As little as 6 inches of melting snow and ice can lead to flooding – in our streets, and in our homes.  During the first thaws, the ground is still frozen, so water will run across the surface instead of seeping into the ground.  This makes our homes more susceptible to water intrusion and associated damage.

Here are a few tips to help prevent damage from all that water:

  • dig snow out of window wells and basement exterior stairwells (including any drain areas)
  • remove any snow a few feet away from outside doors, and dig a path for water to flow away from your home
  • be aware of ice dams (view past article here) – try to clear gutters and downspouts and prepare drainage paths away from your home for areas where roof runoff is likely to occur
  • after the thaw, inspect and repair roof shingles and flashing as needed to prevent water damage in the future
  • homeowners who experience basement flooding each year with the spring thaws should check their sump pump to make sure it is operational before the season begins

For information about whether your insurance coverage protects you from water damage from snow melt flooding, please feel free to contact our offices (in Cooperstown at 607-547-2951, and in Morris at 607-263-5170).  Wishing all our clients and neighbors a safe and DRY spring!

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Hosting a Superbowl Party this Weekend?

superbowl2015If you find yourself as host to a large gathering this weekend for Superbowl Sunday, this article has some great information about Social Host Liability.

Content provided by the Insurance Information Institute: http:iii.org

Social Host Liability

Be a Responsible Host When It Comes to Serving Alcohol at Parties
Whether you are hosting a Super Bowl party or greeting the New Year with friends in your home, if you are planning to serve alcohol at any type of party it is important to take steps to limit your liquor liability and make sure you have the proper insurance.
Social host liability, the legal term for the criminal and civil responsibility of a person who furnishes liquor to a guest, can have a serious impact on party throwers. Social host liability, also known as “Dram Shop Liability” laws vary widely from state to state, but 43 states have them on the books. Most of these laws also offer an injured person, such as the victim of a drunk driver, a method to sue the person who served the alcohol. There are circumstances under these laws where criminal charges may also apply.
While a social host is not liable for injuries sustained by a drunken guest (as they are also negligent), the host can be held liable for third parties, and may even be liable for passengers of the guest who have been injured in their car.
Before planning a party in your home, it is important to speak with your insurance agent or company representative about your homeowners coverage and any exclusions, conditions or limitations your policy might have for this kind of risk. Homeowners insurance usually provides some liquor liability coverage, but it is typically limited to $100,000 to $300,000, depending on the policy, which might not be enough.
Most importantly, whether you are hanging out with a small group of friends for cocktails or throwing a big family bash, remember that a good host is a responsible host, and takes steps to ensure guests get home safely if they have been drinking.

How to Protect Yourself and Your Guests

If you plan to serve alcohol at a party the I.I.I. offers the following tips to promote safe alcohol consumption and reduce your social host liability exposure:
  • Make sure you understand your state laws. Before sending out party invitations, familiarize yourself with your state’s social host liability laws. These laws vary widely from state to state. Some states do not impose any liability on social hosts. Others limit liability to injuries that occur on the host’s premises. Some extend the host’s liability to injuries that occur anywhere a guest who has consumed alcohol goes. Many states have laws that pertain specifically to furnishing alcohol to minors.
  • Consider venues other than your home for the party. Hosting your party at a restaurant or bar with a liquor license, rather than at your home, will help minimize liquor liability risks.
  • Hire a professional bartender. Most bartenders are trained to recognize signs of intoxication and are better able to limit consumption by partygoers.
  • Encourage guests to pick a designated driver who will refrain from drinking alcoholic beverages so that he or she can drive other guests home.
  • Be a responsible host/hostess. Limit your own alcohol intake so that you will be better able to judge your guests’ sobriety.
  • Offer non-alcoholic beverages and always serve food. Eating and drinking plenty of water, or other non-alcoholic beverages, can help counter the effects of alcohol.
  • Do not pressure guests to drink or rush to refill their glasses when empty. And never serve alcohol to guests who are visibly intoxicated.
  • Stop serving liquor toward the end of the evening. Switch to coffee, tea and soft drinks.
  • If guests drink too much or seem too tired to drive home, call a cab, arrange a ride with a sober guest or have them sleep at your home.
  • Encourage all your guests to wear seatbelts as they drive home. Studies show that seatbelts save lives.

http://www.iii.org/article/social-host-liability

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Insuring Your Teen Driver

Your teenager just received their driver’s license!  This is likely one of the most exciting and joyful moments in the life of a young person, and one of the most stressful and worrisome moments for parents.

Attractive Brunette Holding Keys in Vehicle MirrorFrom the student’s perspective, a driver’s license represents some very big things:  freedom (the ability to go where you want, when you want); independence (not having to depend on parents or others to get there); responsibility (for ones’ self, for passengers, for a car, for gas, for others on the roadways).  The driver’s license is one of the milestones in the transition from youth to adult.

From the parent’s view, the addition of a newly licensed driver in the family is more of a mixed bag.  While there is undoubtedly some relief in the ability to share the driving load, there is likely some trepidation as well. 

The addition of a new driver in your household also means changes to your insurance policy.  Adding a teen to the family insurance policy is cheaper than purchasing a separate policy, but any infractions may result in increased rates on your premiums.

In New York State, you can expect your policy to increase by about 53% when you add a teen driver; this is actually one of the lowest surcharges in the US, and a bargain compared to New Hampshire, where it’s 111%.  While these percentages represent state averages, there are other factors that will influence this rate, so it is always best to get a quote specifically through your agent.

Rates will typically drop for each year of experience your new driver accrues without any violations, accidents or claims, lowering to about half the original amount when the driver turns 19.  In some cases, good academic grades and successful completion of driver safety courses can also help to bring the rates down.  The kind of vehicle your teen driver is using will impact your rate as well: less sporty/less flashy vehicles with high safety ratings are less costly to insure.

As a parent, you have the ability to start conversations about safe driving habits with your teens early in their driving education. These conversations are influential to their future driving success!  A National Young Driver Survey found that teens are 50 percent less likely to speed, 71 percent less likely to drive after drinking and 29 percent less likely to use their cell phones while on the road if they have parents who actively talk to them about the dangers associated with these behaviors. (CDC- CDD.GOV/ParentsAreTheKey)

There are also a stream of new auto safety apps for smartphones to help lessen distractions while driving.  Most of these will automatically detect the phone’s GPS location and determine if it is moving at speeds above 10mph.  If moving, it will hold all phone notifications until the end of the trip.

If you have a teenager that will become a new driver soon, give us a call at Bieritz Insurance (607)547-2951 and we’ll help you navigate your insurance options – no GPS required!

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Social Media Security for the Holidays

VacationSM2Social media is a great way to stay in touch with friends and family from all over the world, but privacy settings only go so far to limit what people can see and learn about you. Although this is not a new topic, we just want to remind our friends, clients and families to please be careful with the information that you share on your social networks.

According to AAA, over 46 million Americans will be traveling over this holiday season. Don’t make your home a target for break-ins by sharing details about your travel plans on your social networks, as your family and friends might not be the only ones watching. Avoid accepting friend requests and connections from people you don’t know, and make sure your privacy settings are set correctly for your security.

If you are leaving town, boost your home security by letting friends and neighbors know where you will be and ask them to keep an eye out on your house. Make arrangements for someone to pick up your mail while you are away or ask the post office to hold delivery for the time that you are expecting to be away. Prevent easy entry to your home by making sure all your doors are locked and your windows are secured. If you are traveling with your smartphone, make sure you disable “geotags” on the applications you use so that information about your real-time location doesn’t get shared publicly.

Holidays are special times to be with friends and family, and photos are a great way to record and preserve those memories of time together – but we suggest you wait until you get home to post those pictures!

Our Team at the Bieritz Agency wishes you all a Happy and Safe Holiday Season!

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A Deer in Your Headlights

A note to all of our Bieritz Agency clients and friends:

During the months of November and December our local populations of deer are migrating and mating, resulting in a dramatic increase of movement.  More deer collisions occur during these months than at any other time of year, so we urge drivers to be especially careful, particularly in the early morning and evening hours (times when many people are commuting to and from work).

Deer collisions can cause a great deal of damage and can also be lethal.  A “heavy” deer might weigh over 200 pounds, but even an eighty-pound yearling is capable of totaling a vehicle traveling at high speed.  According to New York Outdoor News, motorists hit over 80,000 white-tailed deer on New York roadways each year (the third highest rate of reported incidents in the U.S.), almost 20% of which happen during the month of November.

Deer tend to stick to certain major travel corridors, which they adjust seasonally to match their movements to food availability and other habitat needs.  Deer warning road signs often indicate areas where deer are often sighted or where multiple collisions have occurred.  A collision can be a car hitting a deer or a deer hitting a car.  Most people are aware that  when you see one deer, there is usually another.  This holds up not only when there are young fawns in early summer, but also during breeding season where bucks follow does or in later winter months when groups of males form “bachelor groups”.

Traveling at slower speeds increases your reaction time if a deer leaps out in front of your vehicle.  Scan the roadsides and watch for eyeshine in your headlights (only visible if the deer looks directly at your car).  Use high beams if there is no oncoming traffic and low beams if it is foggy or snowing.  If you see and successfully avoid deer, flash your lights at oncoming vehicles to warn them of a hazard ahead, and watch the behavior of cars around you as well – a car slowing suddenly could indicate a deer in the area.  Make sure your headlights, brakes and tires are all in good shape.  It is recommended to hit your brakes to try to stop and not swerve to try to avoid a collision.  Swerving out of the travel lane increases the risk of hitting another vehicle or losing control of the car.

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Because most of our local country roads intersect with wildlife habitat, our drivers have a greater chance of collision, so please keep in mind the above tips to help minimize your risk.  Damage caused by an accident with deer or other animals is covered under the optional comprehensive portion (not the collision portion) of an automobile insurance policy. If you would like to check your coverage, please give us a call at our Cooperstown, NY office at (607) 547-2951 and our Bieritz Insurance Agency staff will be happy to help you.  Safe driving to all from the Bieritz Team!

 

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Replacing your Smoke Detector Batteries

Bieritz Insurance Reminds Residents to Replace their Smoke Detector Batteries
smoke detector2COOPERSTOWN, NY (10/03/14): Bieritz Insurance Agency, a local business providing full spectrum insurance products and services, is reminding area residents to replace their batteries on smoke detection devices in their home.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, three out of five home fire deaths result from fires in properties without working smoke alarms, and the risk of dying in a home fire is cut in half in homes with working smoke alarms.  There is no doubt that smoke alarms save lives. To help keep your family safe, stop in at the Bieritz Insurance Agency during the month of October and pick up a free 9v replacement battery for your smoke detector (while supplies last).

Typically, smoke detectors should be tested monthly and if they do not have a lithium 10-year (long life) battery, their 9v alkaline batteries should be replaced once each year.  Smoke alarms that are hardwired into a home’s electrical system will usually have a back-up battery that needs to be replaced each year as well.  In addition to changing your batteries, any smoke detector unit should be replaced every ten years.


Bieritz Insurance Agency, 209 Main Street, Cooperstown, NY

CoverPhotoBieritz Insurance Agency Inc. is a local Independent insurance agency that represents over 20 companies. Bieritz Agency has served the community as the only locally-owned and operated, independent agency for over 24 years.  Bieritz provides quality service, excellent prices and products that are in the client’s best interest!  Free quotes are available through both Cooperstown and Morris offices.  Contact Bieritz at (607)547-2951.

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What We Sell

Bieritz Agency offers a multitude of  insurance products, many of which you might not be aware of.  We created the attached flyer to let you know about the breadth of services we offer.  Our team is always happy to help you with a quote – contact us today!

For a printable version in pdf format, click the image below!

 

BieritzFlyer-WhatWeSell

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Why Shop Around for Insurance?

A client-contributed article from Susan O’Handley

I have been working with the Bieritz Agency over the last few years as a consultant for website and marketing support services. On occasion, I would receive a gentle reminder from Steve to consider switching to Bieritz, or at the very least letting them provide a quote for us.  Although I had meant to do this (I believe in supporting local businesses and my clients whenever possible), insurance is one of those things that’s easy to push off to a later date, and when our policies came up for renewal, we just renewed them and forgot all about switching.

moneyUntil recently.  On the heels of another gentle reminder (never a high pressure push), I decided to just go ahead and send our current policies over for a comparable quote.  I am very glad I did!  To begin with, we ended up saving close to $250 on our auto insurance policy with the same coverage – so we are already ahead.

Information that came back to us on our homeowners policy came as a bit of a surprise.  After reviewing our policy, we learned that we were underinsured for the replacement value for our home and were also paying extra money for a low deductible option.  Beth Spence, the Bieritz Agency Manager,  provided us with several options, all of which gave us better coverage and terms for literally a few extra dollars.

When we purchased our home as first-time buyers over 10 years ago, we never gave the insurance a second thought.  I don’t recall shopping around for quotes at that time (closing on your first home is what I consider a whirlwind experience), and since it is tied into our mortgage payment, it was something that just automatically renewed each year – never really needing attention.  I assumed that the coverage was complete and that it continued to meet our needs.

Thankfully, we have never had a claim on either policy (knock on wood), but I am glad that we found out about our home policy now instead of being surprised in a time of need by having too little coverage.  I encourage friends and neighbors to review your insurance policies and send them over to Bieritz for review!  Even if you don’t wish to switch companies/brokers, take the time to review your policy with your family and agent. Like us, you might find yourself in for a surprise.

The Bieritz team lives up to their reputation of first-class customer service, with responsive and helpful interactions – they are indeed ‘Your Hometown Insurance Specialists’! Give them a call today and see if they can assist you with your policies.

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What Determines the Price of My Auto Insurance Policy?

The cost of Auto Insurance can be affected by a number of different factors.  Check out the full article at the link below and give us a call if we can help you with your policy!

The average yearly auto insurance premium is almost $800, but there is wide variation around this average. Many factors can affect your premium. Not all companies use all of these factors, and some might use factors not listed here…

Read the Full Article Here from the Insurance Information Institute

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Insuring Your Summer Toys

boatlakeAfter a long winter, we bet you are more than ready for summer and all of the things you can do to take advantage of the warmer weather.  The pool is open and your boat or jetski is in the water, all ready to enjoy for the season.  Think for a moment and consider your insurance.  Are you prepared for the possibility of an accident?

Summer ‘ toys’ can include an RV (recreational vehicle) for your summer travel or an ATV (all terrain vehicle), a PWC (personal watercraft) like a jet ski or waverunner or boat, or even things like a golf cart, a motorcycle, a trampoline, swingset, pool, and even a bicycle.  Insurance helps to protect you from the risks associated with injuries and damages when using these items.

The first step is to review the types of insurance available for your summer recreation toys.  Consider physical damage for your property as well as liability insurance.  Many policies include property damage to others and coverage that reimburses you or a guest for hospital or doctor bills.

traditional-poolFor property damage, estimate the value of each item and how much you would lose without insurance.  For items like an RV or a boat, this can be a considerable loss.  You can choose a high liability limit and add an umbrella policy to your coverage. For liability, you can add extra coverage to your homeowner’s policy or include summer items on an umbrella policy to extend your liability coverage.  Each carrier is different with what summer toys can be included, so be sure to check to make sure each addition is allowed.

trampolineFor items that carry significant risks, like trampolines, check with your carrier to make sure this coverage is allowed or included on your homeowner’s policy.  Some carriers prefer not to absorb the risks associated with trampolines and may cancel or decline to renew your policy if they learn you have one on your property.

Insurance helps to protect you in the event of an accident, but your first line of protection is to always take safety precautions when operating your summer toys.  Taking measures to preventing accidents helps keep your premiums low by minimizing the number of claims you need to make.  Insurance protects your purchase, yourself and your guests as well.

Please contact our office to further discuss your insurance needs.  Have a wonderful and safe summer and enjoy those toys!

 

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National Safety Month – Summer Safety

2014 GraphicJune is National Safety Month, so our team has decided to provide resources from the National Safety Council to help improve some general safety practices for all our friends and clients.

This week, we are featuring information and resources about summer safety.

Everyone enjoys a little bit of summer fun, but it’s always important to monitor the weather conditions in extreme heat—especially if you plan on being outside.

Read the Summer Safety Tip Sheet Here

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