Winterize your Seattle Home now to Avoid Insurance Claims

The weather is starting to change and we are entering those warm days of fall where the mornings are brisk and the afternoons are warm. The leaves are starting to turn orange and yellow here in Seattle, Washington, the kids are back in school and it will soon be time to start making plans for the holidays as winter is on its way. Before winter arrives, there is plenty of time to prep your home, both inside and out, for the coming cold months. Some simple winterization prep can save you from a costly homeowner’s insurance claim from frozen pipes or huge heating bills from drafty spots in your home.

Four areas to focus your winterization in Washington:

  • Water, water everywhere: Gutters can get jammed up with leaves, branches and other debris. Once the leaves have fallen from the trees, grab a ladder and gently remove the debris from the gutters. Then, rinse the bottoms of the gutter to ensure good flow of water for those winter showers. If your gutters become clogged, rainwater can accumulate around the foundation of your home and possibly seep into the foundation or basement, in which case, you should check for cracks in your foundation and fill them, pronto. A flooded basement can result in a costly homeowner’s insurance claim. Also, anytime you are using a ladder or plan to be on your roof, please let someone know or have someone working with you. An extra pair of hands and eyes can help prevent painful accidents.
  • Where is that draft coming from: The cold winter draft that is leaking in around your doors, windows and from your attic. Take a candle or piece of incense around your home on a windy day and go near doors, windows and attic to look for wind making its way into your home. If your attic has less than 12” of insulation, regardless of where in the country, you should consider adding more. It is an easy do-it-yourself project; any home improvement store should have the tools to help you complete that. It you have single-pane windows you can purchase an inexpensive window insulation kit to add another “pane” to the glass. This keeps the cold air trapped between another layer instead of entering your home. Other areas drafts can creep in are: recessed lighting, door frames and electrical outlets. A variety of caulks, gaskets and weather-stripping is available at any local hardware store.
  • Keep warm:  Do your heating bills spike up during the winter? Aside from performing the aforementioned “draft tests” checking that heating equipment is in good repair may help keep that heating bill down. The furnace can run much more efficiently if it has a clean filter in it. Consider changing your filter once a month. They are inexpensive and pay for themselves in efficiency gains. Also think about checking out your duct insulation. Ducting in homes can become exposed from being bumped in the attic or crawlspace over time and there are huge efficiency losses from this. Ensure your ducts are covered with insulation and not exposed. Also, check for any leaks in connections while the system is running. Speaking of exposure, pipes that are exposed during the cold winter may freeze and explode if not properly insulated. Protect any exposed water pipes with insulation, if a pipe bursts in winter it can cause thousands of dollars in damages. It takes just a few minute to insulate your pipes, a step that can save a headache down the road.
  • Do you smell smoke: Turning on the fireplace is a winter tradition, whether it is a gas or natural wood fireplace. It can also be a hazard if your chimney is dirty. A cleaned chimney will remove creosote, a flammable byproduct of burning wood. Keep your home safe from chimney fires by hiring a professional chimney sweep to remove any build-up. Make sure you are prepared if a fire does break out with a fire extinguisher (it may qualify you for a discount on your homeowner’s insurance in Seattle, WA) and make sure you have fresh batteries in your smoke detectors. It is always a good idea to check your batteries in the smoke detectors a couple times per year. Count this as one.

While you are taking the time to prep your home for the upcoming winter, talk to your licensed insurance agent to ensure the homeowner’s insurance covers events like floods or fires that may occur during the winter months. Secord Insurance Agency in Seattle, Washington can guide you through your homeowner’s insurance policy and add additional coverages like flood insurance and earthquake insurance. Their years of insurance experience can save you a bundle, and they live right in your area, so know first-hand what your insurance needs might be.  You can also visit their insurance website 24/7 to learn more about the other insurance products they offer.

Seattle Auto Insurance Myths | Secord Insurance Agency in Seattle, Washington

Let’s face it; auto insurance can be confusing, especially when it comes to insuring new vehicles. When trying to look up information surrounding auto insurance in Seattle, WA, the internet can be full of myths and misinformation. If you are trying to disseminate fact from fiction the experts at Secord Insurance Agency can help. We have compiled some common insurance myths and facts; we like to think of it as our own insurance version of Mythbusters.

Five auto insurance myths:

    • Color:
      Have you always wanted a red car, but never did because you thought it might drive up your auto insurance premium in Seattle, WA? Not true. Insurance premiums factor in the make/model, age and power of the vehicle. Premiums are also based on the person being insured.The cost of the vehicle can also influence the
      price of the premium, as more expensive the car usually the more expensive it is to repair if it is damaged in an accident.
    • Mature Drivers:
      Heard that once you enter your ‘golden years’ your auto insurance premiums will increase? Not necessarily. Your local, independent insurance agent can
      assist you with senior discounts or get you resources for defensive driving courses which can also lead to a discount.
    • Optional Coverages:
      Basic auto insurance will cover theft or weather-related damage. Claims such as these are only covered under comprehensive coverage. Most car loans
      require that you carry both comprehensive and collision as these protect the vehicle fully. If your car is getting older and worth less than $1000, you
      may want to opt-out of these coverages, but you will want to talk this over with your agent before dropping these coverages completely.
    • Loaning your vehicle:
      Does your best friend need to borrow your car for the day or leaving your mom the car to pick up the kids from school? If they get in an accident,
      their insurance will cover it, right? Wrong. Typically insurance follows the vehicle, not the driver. However, that is not always the case. Rules and
      regulations for this specific instance vary by state, so you will need to clarify with your insurance agent before you loan out your vehicle.
      Additionally someone who has regular access to your vehicle, like a roommate or spouse, should be added to your auto insurance policy to prevent a
      messy claims process should they be involved in an accident while driving your vehicle.
    • Personal v. Business: 
      Your vehicle is covered under your personal auto insurance policy in Seattle, WA whether you are using it for pleasure or business. Not entirely
      accurate. If you are using your vehicle often for business, purposes, a business auto policy may help protect your vehicle more thoroughly. If you are
      not self-employed but use your personal vehicle for work, make sure you covered by your employer’s commercial auto policy.

While these are the most common myths associated with auto insurance, others are out there. Your licensed insurance agent in Seattle, Washington can assist
you with any questions or concerns you may have about your auto insurance policy. The local, independent agents at Secord Insurance Agency can assist you
with adding or amending an existing policy or setting you up with a new policy. Their years of insurance experience can save you a bundle. You can also
visit their insurance website 24/7 to learn more about auto insurance or the other insurance products they offer like classic car or home insurance.

Flood Insurance in Seattle, WA – An Insurance Agent Weighs In

Typically when we think of things like wildfires or snowstorms, we confine them to seasons. Not all natural disasters are season specific and events like massive rainstorms can occur with the right conditions any time of year. Keeping a flood insurance policy, even if you are not in a high-risk area may be a good idea.

The definition of a flood can be tricky as most people associate a flood with a large body of water overflowing wreaking havoc throughout an area, but floods come in many different shapes and sizes. In terms of flood insurance, any water that comes into your home from an outside source (not a burst pipe, sewer back-up, etc.) may be considered a flood. There are easy ways to find out if you are in a high-risk area for floods and what is covered under a flood insurance policy in Seattle, WA.

The ins-and-outs of flood insurance in Washington:

  • What is a flood: As previously stated, in terms of insurance, a flood is typically water from an outside source coming into your home or business that is not a result of a burst pipe, sewer back-up or other excluded events.  Localized flooding in your home can occur when outside drains become clogged with leaves or debris, when a water main breaks or a storm surge comes ashore from a tropical storm or hurricane. High-risk areas include those living at or below sea-level, those living within the flood plain of a river or those who live in areas that get monsoon-like storm conditions. These areas may be high-risk, but flooding can occur in any neighborhood.
  • Flood Insurance: Purchasing flood insurance can be done through your local independent insurance agency, but it is all federally insured by FEMA. Based on historical trends and flood maps, high-risk areas are determined as those that “have a 1 in 4 chance of flooding during a 30-year mortgage,” according to Floodsmart.gov. A flood insurance premium is based on several factors, like flood risk area, age of the home, number of floors and the amount of coverage you decide upon. The typical policy in a lower-risk can be as low as $129 per year and will go up from there depending on the risk. It should be noted that after purchasing a flood insurance policy, there is a 30-day waiting period, so if you are considering purchasing flood insurance, the sooner the process is started the better.
  • What is covered: Flood damage to a home is costly. Depending on the area of the home taking on water, the costs can be hundreds of thousands of dollars. Carpets may need to be replaced or cleaned, dry wall replaced, appliances, furniture and the list goes on. If the flood is severe enough the home may need to be assessed for structural or electrical damage.

If you think you may need flood insurance, talk to your licensed insurance agent in Seattle, WA. Secord Agency in Seattle, WA can guide you through purchasing a flood insurance policy and offers additional lines of insurance like home insurance and earthquake insurance. Their years of insurance experience can save you a bundle, and they live right in your area, so know first-hand what your insurance needs might be.  You can also visit their insurance website 24/7 to learn more about the other insurance products they offer.