Insurance Blog
Baldwin / Welsh & Parker

Baldwin / Welsh & Parker

Spring has sprung and your home is due for a thorough cleaning but there are a few tasks you should add to your spring cleaning checklist to lower your risk of having an insurance claim while you’re at it. These 10 spring cleaning tips from Central Insurance Companies will improve your home and help prevent home insurance claims.

Spring cleaning your house:

  1. Change and Test Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors. Spring is a good time to change the batteries in your home smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. It is also a good idea to test these units (once a month is recommended) while you are replacing the batteries to ensure they are still working correctly before it is too late.

  2. Clean the Dryer Vent/Hose. It is good to clean the lint hose on your dryer once a year, as some lint may get past the trap. Clean the dryer exhaust duct and under the machine as well. This will help reduce the likelihood of a fire starting and it can even save you money, as you won’t need to run the dryer as long.

  3. Change Heating System Filters. Filters should be changed several times a year, not only during the winter season.

  4. TuneUp Air Conditioner. Have a professional tune up your AC before summer temperatures rise. This could help your AC run better and cooler, and will ensure there are no issues that will come up.

  5. Inspect Water Heater. Check your water heater for leaks or corrosion that need to be repaired. Fixing these issues as they arise will keep repair costs low and help prevent any major damages.

  6. Inspect Window and Door Seals. Before you head outside to start your yard work, check all the seals on your windows and doors to see if there are any cracks in the caulking, where leaks can form and cause damage. If you find any dried out seals, re-caulk them to keep out moisture.

Spring cleaning the outside of your house:

  1. Trees: Trim any dead branches that may be on your property or near powerlines to prevent them from causing damage as the result of a storm. Trim any healthy trees to keep them under control and away from wires.

  2. Roof: Check for any damages that may have been caused during the winter from ice or snow and repair them to reduce the chance of leaks.

  3. Gutters: While you have the ladder out to check the roof, it is a good idea to clean out the gutters too. This will keep the water flowing away from your house and prevent the possibility of water damage and leaks.

  4. Shrubs: Trim any shrubs or bushes near or around your house to deter thieves. Home break-ins increase during the summer months and bushes that are untrimmed provide coverage for criminals.

While these tips will help to prevent any serious damage that could lead to a claim, the best way to guarantee you are protected in the event of an accident is to have the right coverage for your specific needs. And the best way to ensure that you have the coverage you need is to call and speak with our knowledgeable insurance experts at 800-590-5383 to review your current policy or get a free, quick quote.

Tuesday, 02 April 2019 15:48

6 Tips To Get Your Home Spring Ready

Spring is a favorite season for most of us in New England. We are ready to plant, work in the yard and on the house, and we're ready to spend as much time outdoors as possible. In addition to enjoying warm temperatures and longer days however, spring brings rain, storms, and other hazards that could cause damage to your home. Follow this checklist from Central Insurance Companies to ensure that your home is prepared for spring weather.

  1. Check your roof for damaged or missing shingles. If damaged, call in a roofing professional before the next big storm.
  2. Trim damaged trees to prevent them from damaging your property or your neighbor's property. Winter winds, snow, and ice cause tree damage that may not be visible until a spring storm hits.
  3. Check window seals to prevent leaks from driving rain.Nor'easters are famous for driving rain and so are other storms. Check the interior of windows to detect possible winter damage. 
  4. Clean the gutters or call in a gutter cleaning professional. Gutters clogged with pine needles and leaves can block drainage and cause water damage to your home. 
  5. Change the filter on your air conditioner and/or have a professional inspect your system. Annual checkups will help to prevent issues when you need air conditioning most.
  6. Do a homeowners policy review with us to ensure you have the coverages you need.

Call us at800-590-5383 to review your homeowner's policy and to better understand the coverage your policy provides. 

 

Home network security refers to the protection of a network that connects devices to each other and to the internet within a home. Whether it’s staying in touch with friends and family, paying your bills electronically, or teleworking, the internet enables us to accomplish tasks more efficiently and conveniently from the comfort of our own homes. However, as we increasingly embed technology into our daily lives, the risk of security issues also increases. As a result, it’s imperative that home users understand and remain vigilant about the risks of being connected to the internet and the importance of properly securing home networks and systems.

2 Common Misconceptions About Home Network Security

Home users share two common misconceptions about the security of their networks.

  1. They believe that their home network is too small to be at risk of a cyberattack.
  2. They believe that their devices are “secure enough” right out of the box.

Most attacks are not personal in nature and can occur on any type of network—big or small, home or business. If a network connects to the internet, it is inherently more vulnerable and susceptible to outside threats.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019 00:48

Secure Your Wireless Router

One of the leading cybersecurity firms in the U.S. reported that wireless routers were the most frequently exploited type of device. Yet, all new routers arrive with the same default password: "password." For security purposes that password should be changed toavoid unwanted access and to protect your home network.

Change Your Router Password

The first step to locking down your network is to change your wireless router's administrator password from the default to a more secure password to prevent unauthorized persons from accessing the web-based setup page of your router and changing any of its settings.  

The following instructions are for a Netgear router that was previously set up. If you are setting up a new router, follow the instructions provided. Click here for Linksys instructions.

You've received these emails -- some are obvious, some are not: Phishing emails continue to be one of the most common initial attack vectors employed by for malware delivery and credential harvesting. Attacking the human element—considered the weakest component in every network—continues to be extremely effective. To infect a system, the attacker simply has to persuade a user to click on a link or open an attachment. The good news is that there are many indicators that you can use to quickly identify a phishing email. The best defense against these attacks is to become an educated and cautious user and familiarize yourself with the most common elements of a phishing attack. Below are some common indicators of a phishing email.

  • Suspicious Sender’s Address. Pay attention to the sender's email address. It may imitate a legitimate business. With only few characters altered or omitted, cybercriminals will often use an email address that closely resembles one from a reputable company.
  • Generic Greetings and Signature. Both a generic greeting—such as “Dear Valued Customer” or “Sir/Ma’am”—and a lack of contact information in the signature block are strong indicators of a phishing email. A trusted organization will normally address you by name and provide their contact information.
Tuesday, 22 January 2019 15:06

Top 3 Causes of House Fires

Home Fires Peak During Winter Months

According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) the number one cause of home structure fires and home fire injuries is cooking equipment. But there are two other top causes as well. Learn how to prevent these major cause of home fires.

#1 Cause of House Fires: Kitchen Cooking

Tuesday, 22 January 2019 14:56

Pellet Stove Safety

It is common for many homeowners to use a pellet stove as a primary or secondary heat source during the cooler months. While these types of stoves can be convenient and economical, it is important to follow some critical guidelines and safety precautions when installing and operating pellet stoves.

First, the pellet stove installation should only be performed by a licensed and/or certified professional installer. (See National Fireplace Institute: http://nficertified.org). Improper installation can potentially lead to fire, smoke damage, and/or carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Make sure your installer obtains a permit when installing a pellet stove. This will help ensure that the installation is done properly and will meet current building codes.

Tuesday, 22 January 2019 14:50

Fireplace Safety & Maintenance

When the colder temperatures start to set in, many homeowners will turn to their fireplace, wood or pellet stoves as an additional heat source. While fireplaces can provide warmth and comfort, if you are not careful, they can also be a hazard. Keep in mind the following precautions to help ensure a safe winter season.

Keep Your Chimney Fireplaces and Wood Stoves Clean

  • Have your chimney, fireplace, wood or pellet stove inspected and cleaned by a licensed chimney specialist. They should be maintained annually to help ensure they are functioning safely and efficiently. 
  • Be sure to keep the area around the hearth clear of debris, decorations, and any other combustible materials.
  • If you have a wood burning, insert or pellet stove, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for additional guidance related to operation and venting.

Keep Fires Burning Safely

  • Be sure the flue is open before lighting your fire to help ensure the fireplace will vent properly. Do not close your damper until you are sure the fire is out.
  • When starting a fire, only use a match or commercial firelighter. Never use flammable liquids to start a fire.
  • Glass doors of a fireplace should be kept open while burning a fire. This allows the fire to receive enough air for complete combustion and to help reduce creosote build-up in the chimney.
  • Metal mesh screens should remain closed whenever your fireplace is in use to help keep embers in the fireplace.
  • Only use dry wood in your fireplace. Wet wood can increase creosote buildup, which can lead to chimney fires.
  • Do not burn plastic because it can release toxic chemicals and cause damage to your chimney, fireplace or wood stove.
  • Never burn a Christmas tree in your fireplace as the sparks from the burning needles can increase the risk for a chimney fire. Also, do not burn cardboard boxes, wrapping paper or trash in your fireplace.
  • Never leave a fire in a fireplace unattended. Before leaving the house or going to bed, you should make certain to fully extinguish the fire.
  • Allow ashes to cool completely before disposing of them — ashes can take several days to cool completely. Never empty ashes directly into a trash can. Instead, place ashes in a covered metal container located at least 10 feet1 away from your home and any other building.

Keep the Outside of Your Home and Your Chimney Safe

  • Firewood should be stacked at least 30 feet away from your home.2
  • Your roof and chimney should be kept clean of leaves, pine needles, and other debris. Prune trees and branches to keep them away from your chimney.
  • Install a chimney cap with spark arrester to help keep debris, leaves, branches, and animals out, and to help prevent burning embers or sparks from escaping and creating a fire hazard.

Keep the Inside of Your Home Safe with Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

To help make your winter even safer, we recommend that you take the time to test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. A smoke detector is the most effective way to detect smoke from a fire and signal an alarm so that you can get you and your family out safely. A carbon monoxide detector can alert you to the buildup of this dangerous odorless and colorless gas. Make sure you test the detectors monthly, and after you change the batteries to ensure they work properly.

Source: 
1 National Fire Protection Association. (2015). Wood and Pellet Stove Safety. PDF accessed from http://www.nfpa.org/safety-information/safety-tip-sheets.
2 National Fire Protection Association. (2015). Wildland Fire Safety. PDF accessed from http://www.nfpa.org/safety-information/safety-tip-sheets.

Why it isn't safe to flash hazard lights while driving in the rain.

 

If you turned on your hazard lights in the rain while driving, then you may be breaking the law, depending on which state you live in. (See the list of New England state laws below.)

Officials stress that flashers should only be used while your vehicle is stopped or disabled on the roadway or shoulder -- hazard lights are a sign for emergency services for motorists who need assistance and may cause confusion and compromise your safety when used while driving.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019 15:25

What is Bodily Injury Liability Coverage?

Understanding Bodily Injury Liability Coverage

Bodily injury liability coverage provides compensation for injuries to others, related legal expenses and damages your vehicle does if you cause an accident.

 
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Bedford, MA - 781-275-2114

Hudson, MA - 978-562-5652

Wayland, MA - 508-358-5383

Winthrop, MA - 617-846-0731

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