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9 Vital Homeowner Maintenance Tips

Posted By Jayleen R. Heft, Monday, May 21, 2018

Prevent Costly Damage & Losses


When you own a home, it’s important to understand the main purpose of homeowners’ insurance is to protect you from major risks like fires, hail, explosions, theft and wind storms. What it doesn’t cover is flooding, earthquakes or everyday wear and tear — or poor maintenance.

Here are nine home maintenance tips that could save your homeowners’ insurance clients money, future headaches and keep them safe:

  1. Caulk where needed. Caulk is cheap and can help keep moisture out of crevices to avoid water damage and mold. Caulk can help weatherize your home to keep cold air out in the winter and keep cool air in during the summer. Go through your house and look for any spots where the caulk could use an update or a crevice could use some new caulking.

  2. Clean clothes dryer and lint trap & exhaust duct. A common cause of dryer fires is failure to do a thorough cleaning. Because a lint trap is not a foolproof method for catching all the fuzzy stuff from clothes, lint can gradually build up and catch fire in the heating element or exhaust duct. 

  3. Inspect & repair the roof. Check your roof early for signs of wear or damage. Look for missing, damaged and aging shingles. If its age or an unresolved maintenance issue are to blame for your leaking roof, insurance likely won't pay to repair the leak or resulting damage.

  4. Test & clean the sump pump & pit. Sump pumps are also found in basements, and are the last line of defense against floods, condensation build-up and water from drains. Water damage due to sewage and drain backups generally requires additional insurance coverage beyond a standard policy.

  5. Inspect & clean chimneys yearly. Unclean chimneys are a leading cause of structure fires according to the National Fire Protection Association. Improper cleaning can also lead to other serious issues, including potential for carbon monoxide, fumes and possibly soot to enter home living spaces.

  6. Clean & maintain gutters and downspouts. Clogged gutters can cause water to flow down the sides of the home and pool around its foundation, often leading to some major issues like uneven floors, cracks in walls and interior water damage. This type of claim, also known as seepage, is a maintenance issue and often is not covered under your home insurance policy.

  7. Check for termites every couple of years. To prevent termites get your home inspected by a professional periodically. Once the termites spread they can cause some major structural damage, and that can cost thousands of dollars to treat and fix. Catch them early and you can limit the damage.

  8. Regularly maintain pipes & plumbing. Homeowners' insurance does not cover pipe degradation to old age or poor care. Look closely for cracks and leaks and have any necessary repairs made immediately. Also, know the location of the main water shut-off valve in your home. A damaged hose or a burst pipe can send water racing into your home. Being able to locate and shut off the main water supply quickly will save stress, money and time.

  9. Inspect your deck. There's been an increase in the number of decks that have collapsed, fallen apart or otherwise failed, according to the North American Deck and Railing Association. In most cases, simple upkeep could have prevented these incidents, which tend to happen when decks are packed with people.

Tags:  homeowners  insurance  maintenance  tips 

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Insurance Basics for New Homeowners

Posted By Administration, Monday, May 21, 2018


You're a first-time homebuyer, and you've searched for the perfect house for months. The homeowner accepts your offer, and now you have to learn about a topic that might not be as fun as home-shopping, but it is vital -- home insurance.

Your mortgage lender will likely require you to carry some level of home insurance. Don't rely on the most basic coverage. Make sure that your home insurance protects you from financial disaster.

If you're buying your first home, you may have experience with condo or renters insurance. There are some similarities with home insurance, such as personal property coverage, but there's a lot more to home insurance. That's because there is a lot more to lose when you own a home.

In this guide, we will take you through what home insurance covers and give you tips, so you're a home insurance expert. By the end of this article, you should be more confident about buying your first home insurance policy.

What homeowners insurance covers

The most basic home insurance policy usually covers at least five coverage areas:

Other important information to know about homeowners insurance policies:

Dwelling coverage

The dwelling portion of home insurance covers your home and attached structures, such as a garage. Home insurance will cover you if you need to file a claim for a "covered peril." Covered perils include:

  • Fire and smoke damage
  • Windstorms
  • Hail
  • Lightning strikes
  • Vandalism and malicious destruction
  • Theft
  • Damage from a vehicle
  • Damage caused by the weight of snow, sleet or ice

Dwelling coverage isn't just for the physical structure. It also covers wiring, plumbing, and heating and cooling systems.

Other property

Other property insurance covers structures on your property that aren't attached to your home. Other property includes a detached garage, a shed, or a fence.

Personal property coverage

Personal property coverage, also called contents coverage, covers the property within your home, including:

  • Furniture
  • Electronics
  • Appliances
  • Clothing

You can choose replacement value or actual cash value for your personal property. Here are the differences:

  • Reimbursement value reimburses you the full amount to replace items if they are stolen or damaged; actual cash value reimburses you the amount the items are worth now after years of depreciation.
  • Replacement value is more expensive than actual cash value.

Let's say a burglar steals your five-year-old flat-screen TV. If you have replacement value coverage, your insurance company reimburses you the money to buy the same type of new TV. Actual cash value gives you what your five-year-old TV is worth after five years of use.

If you have expensive items, you may need a separate endorsement for valuables. You add an endorsement, also called a rider, to your insurance policy to protect valuable property. An endorsement can include jewelry, fine art, guns, and sports memorabilia.

When requesting a home insurance quote, ask whether you should add your expensive items under a separate endorsement.

Home liability insurance coverage

Liability insurance covers you for visitor injuries on your property. Liability insurance covers not only a legal settlement but also your legal fees (up to your liability limit).

According to Donald Griffin, vice president of personal lines for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCIAA), many liability insurance policies will cover you even if an incident happens away from your home.

He recommends buying an excess liability or an umbrella policy that offers coverage of $1 million beyond your home insurance and car insurance policy coverage. These policies are relatively inexpensive, often costing $200 to $300 per year.

"You don't want to lose your home because you failed to buy an insurance policy," says Griffin.

Medical payments also helps to pay for guests who are injured in your home, and you should know the difference between medical payments and liability insurance. Medical payments pays out, typically in limits of $1,000 or $5,000, for injuries regardless of who is at fault, and is for minor incidents.

Additional Living Expenses (ALE)

ALE, also known as loss of use coverage, covers you if your home is damaged and you have to live somewhere else while it's repaired. ALE coverage includes paying for hotel rooms and meals while you're displaced.

If a fire damages your home, you can make a claim for ALE coverage by submitting paperwork documenting your living expenses.

The ALE standard for most homeowner insurance policies is a benefit worth 20 percent of your home's replacement value. When you get a home insurance quote, find out if the policy specifies any limitations or exclusions on ALE.

Buy insurance for your home's replacement cost

One of the most common first-time homebuyer mistakes is: confusing a house's market value with its replacement cost. Your home insurance coverage should cover the cost of rebuilding your house.

"With an existing home, look at the replacement cost rather than the market value," says Griffin.

Going the replacement cost route is often less than what you paid for your home; if you're insuring your house for its market value, you may be over-insuring it. Over-insuring also means overpaying. You have enough fees and charges as a new homeowner -- you don't need to overpay for insurance.

Most home insurance companies use software to determine the replacement cost. The software allows them to enter your home's features and calculate the cost of replacement. Also, most policies include coverage for up to 125 percent of the replacement cost.

You don't want to overpay, but you don't want to underpay either. You might be tempted to purchase less coverage. In that case, you might take on too much risk by inadequately covering your home. Learning how to calculate your home replacement or value is important, and typically can be done by using online tools, calculating it yourself or by hiring an appraiser.

Find out what your policy doesn't cover

Read the exclusions section of your home insurance policy. Understanding what the insurance won't cover is just as important as knowing what the insurance will cover - before you have to make a claim.

You also don't want to file a claim for damage that your policy doesn't cover because it will go onto your claims record. So, in that case, you won't get reimbursement, and it could lead to higher rates because you filed a claim.

For instance, an insurance company might not provide windstorm insurance if you live near the ocean. In that case, they may exclude coverage. You can buy additional windstorm insurance if your policy does not cover you. This type of insurance has a separate deductible, in addition to home insurance.

Home insurance discounts

Home insurance companies provide dozens of discounts, and you may qualify for many of them.

Some of the most common discounts are:

  • Bundling (also called multi-policy)
  • Loyalty
  • Claims-free
  • Security system
  • Automatic payment

Check insurance companies' websites to get a list of discounts. Do you qualify for any?

Bundling insurance policies is an easy way to save money on your insurance. Insurers give discounts if you bundle policies, which means getting multiple insurance policies from the same insurer.

You can bundle home, auto, renters, motorcycle, and some companies even offer life insurance.

When shopping for home insurance, you may have to balance discounts. You may find one insurer has a generous bundling discount, but another insurer may offer more discounts for which you qualify.

Rather than focusing on the number of discounts, ask insurance companies for full quotes. That way you can compare annual insurance premiums side by side.

How credit score influences your insurance rate

Insurers in nearly all states use credit scores as a factor when determining home insurance rates. What does credit score have to do with insurance? Insurance companies believe that a person's credit history is a glimpse into a person's risk.

In other words, insurers believe that people with poor credit are more apt to file claims.

Get a CLUE Report

Insurers base your rates on both your claims history and your home's claims history -- before you even lived there.

You should request a Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE) Report for your new home to see the claims that the homeowner filed. Insurance companies are all about preventing risk. If they see that the home had multiple claims in the matter of a few years, you will pay higher rates. An insurer may even decline coverage.

Choose a homeowners insurance deductible

The deductible is what you have to pay for repairs if your insurance company approves your claim. It's your share of the repair cost.

The higher the deductible, the lower the insurance premiums. If you have a $500 deductible, you're going to pay more on your premiums than if you have a $2,000 deductible.

Going with a higher deductible will save you money. It will also reduce your home insurance claims. That’s why it’s important to know the trade-off you’re making – and be comfortable with it -- when choosing a home insurance deductible.

Let's look at an example: a pipe bursts and dumps a few gallons of water on your floor before you quickly turn off the water to your home and call a plumber.

You get an estimate and find that you will need to have the floor and ceiling repaired. It will cost about $700.

Your deductible is $1,000. In this case, you wouldn't file a claim because your deductible is more than the needed repairs.

The same goes for if the damages cost slightly more than your deductible. It's not worth filing a claim if it raises your rates, costs you more in the long run through higher premiums and it goes onto your claims record.

Home insurance doesn't cover flood damage

One of the biggest home insurance misconceptions is about flood coverage. Home insurance does not cover for flood damage.

Instead, you need to buy a separate flood insurance policy to cover you for damages caused by outside flooding. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which the Federal Emergency Management Agency oversees, runs the flood program.

Flood insurance covers:

  • The structure
  • Electrical and plumbing systems
  • Carpeting and flooring
  • Appliances
  • Personal property, such as furniture, small appliances, rugs, clothing, furniture, and electronics
  • Valuable items, such as artwork and jewelry, up to $2,500

Flood are the number one natural disaster in the United States. Mortgage lenders usually require homes in risky food areas to have flood insurance. This type of insurance is also a good idea for homes in low-to-moderate flood areas. About one-quarter of flood-related claims come from low-to-moderate flood areas.

You can see the flood map for your area by typing in your address on the FEMA Flood Map Service Center page.

One good thing about flood insurance -- you don't have to shop and compare insurer rates. You can buy flood insurance by NFIP or licensed brokers. NFIP bases the cost of flood insurance on the risk of the area and home. Regardless how you buy flood insurance, you will pay the same rates because costs vary by house -- not by the company.

Flood insurance costs on average $700 annually. But you'll pay much less (about $150) if you live in a low-to-moderate flood risk area.

Do you need earthquake insurance?

Homeowners insurance does not cover earthquake damage.

If you live in an active earthquake area, you need to get either a separate earthquake insurance policy or a home insurance endorsement.

You can buy earthquake insurance from private insurance companies. California also has policies through the California Earthquake Authority (CEA).

Earthquake insurance covers:

  • Damage to your home and attached structures
  • Personal property, such as furniture, clothing, and electronics
  • Additional living expenses (ALE)

Earthquake insurance has a separate deductible. The deductible is a percentage of the value of your dwelling and personal belongings. Earthquake deductibles are not a dollar amount like regular home insurance policies.

Earthquake deductibles can range between 2 and 20 percent of your dwelling coverage limit depending on risk.

Much like home insurance, earthquake insurance costs vary greatly by company and state. It's a good idea to get at least three earthquake insurance quotes from insurance companies.

Only go with trusted insurers

You want to make sure you're comfortable with whichever insurance company you choose.

Just because one insurer will give you the best rates doesn't mean that's the one for you.

Griffin reminds new homeowners that it is important to choose a financially stable insurance company. Financial strength ratings are available from A.M. Best, for example.

"Remember," he says, "you are buying a promise from that insurance company that they will be around when you need to make a claim."

Shopping for home insurance

Before getting home insurance quotes, you'll need to answer these questions:

  • What is your deductible? The higher the deductible, the lower the premium. But you will want to be able to afford the deductible if you have  to file a claim.
  • Do you want replacement cost or actual cost value for your contents insurance?
  • What is the claims history for your new home?
  • Should you bundle your policies? What other discounts could you get?
  • Do you need an insurance endorsement for expensive items?
  • Do you need umbrella insurance?
  • Should you get flood insurance?

Once you get the answers to those questions, it's time to shop. Don't just go with your car insurance company or your family's insurer. You can start there, but get quotes from at least three insurance companies.

Compare quotes. Investigate each company's record by reviewing financial and customer service ratings.

Once you compare rates and review insurance companies' reviews and customer service ratings, you are ready to choose the right insurance company and coverage for you.

To give you an idea of how much homeowners insurance costs, here are rates for major companies, by state and coverage levels. Additionally, you by using's tool, you can see average home insurance rates by ZIP code for 75 coverage levels. You'll also see the highest and lowest rate fielded from up to six major insurers, so you can compare prices and be sure you don't overpay.

Rates in Your State

A local independent insurance agent can compare pricing between multiple reputable companies. Also, you'll be dealing with an experienced professional, not a web service, who can help you understand exactly the types of coverage and pricing for your individual situation.


Tags:  basics  consumer  homeowners  information  insurance 

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Backyard Danger! Swings, Slides & Other Play Things

Posted By Jayleen R. Heft, Monday, May 21, 2018


Far too often, fun and games on the backyard play set or at the community playground can lead to injuries and even death. Are your clients protected?

Now that springtime is here, playground season is in full swing. Are the kids in the backyard and at the local playground safe?

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has found that far too often, fun and games on the backyard play set or at the community playground can lead to injuries — and even death.

In a new playground equipment report issued by CPSC, it found that from 2009 to 2014, nearly 1.5 million injuries associated with playground equipment were treated nationally in emergency departments.

Homeowner liability

If your insurance clients have a backyard swing set or other play equipment, the Insurance Information Institute recommends homeowner policyholders consider increasing liability coverage through an umbrella policy in case someone is injured while playing on an insured’s property. Standard homeowners’ policies usually provide $100,000 to $300,000 worth of liability coverage.

Most insurance companies offer a personal catastrophe liability (PCL) policy that adds an extra $1 to $5 million to homeowners’ liability limits for about $200 more per year.

It’s not unusual to hear of $1-million, $2-million, and even $10-million liability judgments against individuals. If someone is injured in a client’s backyard, they could be hit with such a judgment. Accidents and injuries aren’t predictable, and once a client is the target of a liability lawsuit, it’s too late to get coverage.

In order to encourage a fun and safe summer, following is an overview of where play equipment injuries happen, data about the types of injuries sustained and a helpful list of some playground safety recommendations to share with insureds:

Where playground injuries happen

Playground injuries take place in various locations. The top four places for play equipment injuries are:

1. Home (66 percent).

2. Restaurant (26 percent).

3. Park (3 percent).

4. School (2 percent).

Playground fatalities

The No. 1 cause of fatal playground incidents? Hanging or asphyxiation.

From 2009 to 2014, CPSC staff completed investigations of 34 deaths associated with playground equipment. Of the 34 investigated deaths, 19 involved hangings and other asphyxiations. Five of the 19 hangings and asphyxiations occurred on slides, and another five occurred on swings, including two that occurred on a rope swing.

Four deaths involved composite play structures, and two occurred during while using zip lines.

Of the 19 deaths involving hangings and other asphyxiations, 12 involved a second product. In three cases the second product was a jump rope, in four other cases the second product was a rope, and in two cases the second product was clothing with a drawstring.

Neck & head injuries

The next most common type of investigated death involved neck and head injuries. Of the 34 investigated deaths, eight involved head and neck injuries. Three of the head and neck deaths were on swings, and two others involved composite play structures.

There were two investigated deaths related to drowning. In both cases, the child fell or slid down a non-pool slide into a swimming pool.

Play equipment causing injuries

Monkey bars and swings account for the majority of the total play equipment injuries resulting in emergency department-treated injuries, although slides account for one-fifth of the injuries.

Here’s the breakdown of playground equipment linked to the most injuries, according the the CPS:

1. Monkey bars or playground gyms (34 percent).

2. Swings or swing sets (25 percent).

3. Slides or sliding boards (21 percent).

4. Other playground equipment (9 percent).

5. Not specified (9 percent).

6. Seesaws or teeter totters (2 percent).

Injuries from playground equipment

The two most common reported emergency department diagnoses from playground accidents are fractures and contusions/abrasions, which together account for 51 percent of the incidents. Fractures alone account for more than one-third of the emergency department-treated injuries.

Here’s the breakdown of reported injuries:

1. Fractures (34 percent).

2. Contusions and abrasions (17 percent).

3. Lacerations (15 percent).

4. Strains and sprains (13 percent).

5. Internal organ injuries (9 percent).

6. Other/not stated (6 percent).

7. Concussions (2 percent).

8. Dislocation (1 percent).

9. Dental injuries (1 percent).

10. Hematomas (1 percent).

The two most commonly injured body parts are the arm and head, which together accounted for 59 percent of all injuries. The leg and face were  injured 31 percent of the time.

1. Arm (41 percent).

2. Head (18 percent).

3. Leg (16 percent).

4. Face (15 percent).

Playground safety tips

  • Always supervise kids and make sure kids use playground equipment appropriate for their age.
  • Never attach ropes, jump ropes, pet leashes or strings to playground equipment; children can strangle on these.
  • Make sure children’s clothing does not have any drawstrings as they can catch on slides and other equipment.
  • Make sure surfaces around playgrounds have 9-12 inches of wood chips, mulch, sand, pea gravel, or mats made of safety-tested rubber.
  • Check that protective surfacing extends at least 6 feet in all directions from play equipment. For swings, be sure surfacing extends, in back and front, twice the height of the suspending bar.
  • Look out for tripping hazards, like exposed concrete footings, tree stumps, and rocks.
  • Don’t let kids play on slides/surfaces that are burning hot. The weather does not have be 100 degrees in order for equipment to heat up and cause burns. If it feels hot to your hand, it may be too hot for a child’s bare skin!

Tags:  children  dangers  homeowners  safety 

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Moving Out? Don't Forget to Pack Insurance

Posted By Denny Jacob, Monday, May 21, 2018


The biggest life events often require extensive planning. This is especially true if you’re planning on moving. One day you’re wondering what to take and what to leave behind, and before you know it, all your items are packed and it’s time to move on.

Amid the flurry of things to consider when you’re moving, it’s easy to forget how this will impact your insurance. You may have to drive to work now, which will directly affect your auto insurance. Your new home may have fewer exposures now that you’ve moved away from the coast, for example, and so your homeowners’ insurance will now reflect that.

May is National Moving Month and there are many questions that will pop up if you’re planning on moving soon. Jason Hargraves, managing editor at, shared some key insights on the subject.

To hire or not to hire

This is often the quintessential question at the heart of moving: Should I hire movers or do it myself? Some do a bit of both and rent a U-Haul for the bigger items while packing smaller items in a car to save time.
“With hiring movers, you have some built-in insurance that comes with that. Most moving companies are required to have some sort of insurance, either by federal law or state law. They have to offer that to you,” says Hargraves. “And so that would be the easy way to do it. If you were moving by yourself with your friends, your coverage may be a little more complicated.”

If you’re moving your stuff on your own, get in a car accident and your stuff catches on fire, your homeowners’ insurance may cover it. But if your stuff just gets damaged in an accident on the road, it wouldn’t necessarily pay for it.

“You have to remember that your stuff is only gonna be covered during the move normally for the kind of coverage you have inside your home,” says Hargraves, adding that it is mainly is for fire and theft.

But there is some gray area where you might have some coverage. If you’re going to move yourself, Hargraves advises talking to your agent first and explain what you’re moving, how much your stuff is valued at and work with them to find out exactly kind of coverage you have. Additionally, don’t be afraid to shop around if you don’t feel your homeowners’ insurance isn’t up to snuff.

Where you’re moving to matters

If you hire movers, do they cover 100% of the costs in the case of an accident? Hargraves says it depends if you’re moving to a new state or relocating within a state.

“If you’re moving from one state to another state, the federal government gets involved and they mandate what insurance the moving company has to offer you,” says Hargraves. If you’re moving from New York to New Jersey, for example, a moving company has to offer you one of two types of insurance: a released value policy or a full value policy.

If you’re moving within the state, whether it be down the street or across town, that’s where it gets a little tricky because each state has its own rules when it comes to moving, moving companies and what insurance they have to offer. Along with contacting your agent about a state’s rules, you can also shop between movers based on what kind of insurance they offer.

Moving is often seen as the start of a new beginning. Things change, your lifestyle changes, and your coverage needs change as well.

“It’s a change of life scenario, much like getting married, so I think people should look at the time to evaluate all your insurance coverage and see if it’s meeting your needs,” says Hargraves.

Tags:  homeowners  insurance  moving  tips 

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Homeowners Insurance Tips for Super Bowl Parties

Posted By Elana Ashanti Jefferson, Thursday, February 1, 2018

Help Super Bowl party hosts enjoy the game and their guests, while avoiding possible insurance claims.

from, January 29, 2018

Despite the fact that not everyone loves American football — particularly in light of its recent politicization via the "Take a Knee" campaign — most everyone loves a party. That makes the ad hoc holiday known as Super Sunday a time for football fans and foes to come together to eat, drink and play armchair TV critic. This year, roughly 45% of Americans plan to host or attend a Super Bowl party, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).

"As a favorite American past-time, the Super Bowl is a great chance for viewers to reconnect with friends and family," says NRF Analyst Pam Goodfellow. "Even though the number of viewers is slightly down this year, plenty are still planning to enjoy the day by watching it at their favorite bar or friend's place."

Insurance experts advise homeowners who choose to host a Super Bowl party to anticipate potential liabilities — on the chance something unexpected occurs that results in an insurance claim. "Parties and holidays are times to celebrate and enjoy each other's company," says Heather Bolyard, vice president of Claims for American Modern. "Unfortunately, guests on your property are also a risk for which you may be held responsible."

Should an accident happen, she advises taking the following steps:

  1. Address any injuries first.
  2. Ensure other guests are safe and secure.
  3. Take pictures.
  4. Quickly report the loss to the insurance company.
  5. Be sure to provide the names and contact information for witnesses.
  6. If possible, secure the scene for the insurance company to visit and complete an assessment.

"You put a lot of work into hosting a party," Bolyard continues. "Do your best to be prepared… Then, enjoy the party knowing that you are insured in case an accident occurs."

Here are six tips from insurers regarding potential homeowner liabilities when hosting a Super Bowl party, as well as how to address them.

No. 6: Look out for inebriated guests.

Depending on the location, social host liability laws, or the criminal and civil responsibility of a person who furnishes liquor to guests, are applicable to events such as in-home Super Bowl parties, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

American Modern's Heather Bolyard notes that hosts can be liable for guests who over-imbibe and then drive home while intoxicated:

"There have been some very sad claims where after leaving a party with family and friends the guest drove drunk causing an accident, injuries, and even death. A Super Bowl party with friends and family is going to be a great event. If you’re serving alcohol, do so early in the game and be sure to serve food as well; put the alcohol away before the end of the game and switch to coffee and dessert.

For those that over-imbibe ensure they don't drive; consider asking another guest to give the person a ride or order a ride from a local taxi or ride-sharing service. There are so many services that are quick and convenient. Go ahead and have an app or phone number handy if you need one for a guest. You want to remember the great party, not the results of car accident."

No. 5: Clear icy or obstructed sidewalks.

Many parts of the country are heading into the coldest, snowiest part of winter. That means anyone hosting a Super Bowl party could be liable should a guest slip and fall on their steps, driveway or walkway.

But that becomes much less likely when a homeowner has taken extra precautions to clear and salt snowy, icy outdoor paths.

Farmers Insurance data also indicates that skidding on ice or snow and hitting an object or pedestrian claims both increase by more than 5% on Super Bowl Sunday compared to the three Sundays prior.

No. 4: Responsibly 'fire up the barbie.'

Grilling food is easy, fast and delicious, but it also can be dangerous.

Between 2009 and 2013, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 8,900 home fires involving grills, hibachis, or barbecues per year, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and these fires accounted for annual averages of 10 civilian deaths, 160 reported civilian injuries, and $118 million in direct property damage.

Super Bowl party hosts should make sure grills are clean and operational before the party, as well as positioned away from people and property. Keep fire safety tools on hand, just in case.

No. 3: Ward off foodborne illness.

Popular party foods containing dairy, such as dips or potato salad, can quickly sour once they come to room temperature, and Super Bowl party hosts could be liable should a guest become sick from something served at the event.

These food storage tips from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will go a long way toward avoiding the spread of foodborne illness:

— It is vital to keep foods out of the "Danger Zone," which is the temperature range between 40°F and 140°F.

— When foods are left in the "Danger Zone," bacteria can multiply rapidly, causing a single bacterium to multiply to 17 million in 12 hours.

— Avoid serving Super Bowl favorites, such as pizza and chicken wings, at room temperature for the entire game.

— If warm takeout foods are to be served immediately, keep them at 140°F or above by placing in chafing dishes, preheated warming trays or slow cookers.

— If take-out foods will not be served immediately, either keep them warm in a preheated oven, or divide the food into smaller portions or pieces, place in shallow containers, and refrigerate. At serving time, reheat to 165°F.

— Cold foods that are served should be kept at 40°F or below, which can be done by nesting serving dishes in bowls of ice. Avoid storing food outside, where the sun can quickly warm foods in plastic storage containers and animals can get into them.

— Use a food thermometer to ensure foods being served to guests are not in the "Danger Zone."

No. 2: Minimize pet stress.

Dogs are especially sensitive to crowds and noise (like touchdown cheering), and an agitated animal is more likely to bite.

When pets join the party, owners should monitor them for signs of stress such as panting, pacing or hiding. It also may also be wise to keep older or anxious dogs away from Super Bowl party guests altogether.

No. 1: Consider supplemental coverage.

Farmers Insurance warns that homeowners' policies generally cover a limited amount of liability for injuries that occur at the home. So homeowners may want to consider a personal liability umbrella policy as a supplement. Farmers also advises Super Bowl party hosts that any intentional act resulting in damage to home or property may not be covered under a homeowners policy. And there are limits to certain types of homeowner losses, such as theft.

To that end, Super Bowl party hosts may want to consult with their insurance specialist before Super Sunday to determine whether supplemental insurance, knowns as a floater, may be prudent. 

"Parties and holidays are times to celebrate and enjoy each other's company," says American Modern's Heather Bolyard. "After doing your best to prepare for an entertaining event, insurance can help you have peace of mind and enjoy the time with your friends and family."

Tags:  homeowners  insurance  party  Super Bowl  tips 

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