Flood insurance FAQs: The truth about flooding and your insurance

Flooding isn't covered in standard homeowners policies.

Flooding isn't covered in standard homeowners policies.

Imagine this. It’s the Atlanta rainy season. It’s hot, humid, and pouring down rain as it’s wont to do in the summer months. It’s been raining heavily. You get home from work one day, eager to escape into the air conditioning after a muggy ride home, and burst inside. You put down your things and wander into the kitchen for dinner…

Only to find that your kitchen looks an awful lot like a bathtub. There’s water everywhere. The kitchen flooded while you were at work, and you’re looking at a lot of damage.

Okay, you think. I’ll get on the phone and call my insurance company. So you do. You dial them up and explain what’s going on…and then they break the news.

Flooding isn’t covered in standard homeowners and renters policies.

You stare at your kitchen in dismay.

There’s a way to avoid the situation of trying to figure out how you’re going to afford all of those costly repairs and replacements. And that’s flood insurance.

What’s flood insurance?

Flood insurance is an additional coverage that you can purchase to protect your home and your belongings from damages or losses related to flooding. Since flooding is not covered under most home insurance policies, you have to purchase it separately.

What does it cover?

As we mentioned above, flood insurance protects the home itself and your personal belongings. You do, however, have to make sure that you have insurance for both the structure and the contents of your home – it’s important to make sure that everything’s covered. Taking a home inventory is a great way to make sure that you have enough coverage.

Flood insurance will protect you if you ever face a flooding loss.

Keep in mind that not all water damage is considered “flooding.” For a loss to be considered flooding, there has to have been two acres worth of flooding or two homes that have been affected (one of which is yours) from either tidal or inland waters or rapid and unusual accumulation. Basically, that means that there’s a lot of water on land where there’s usually not a lot of water.

Where can I get flood insurance in Atlanta?

Flood insurance is available through the National Flood Insurance Program, but you have to buy it through an agent. You can’t go directly to the NFIP and buy it yourself. And your community has to participate in the NFIP in order for you to be able to get flood insurance.

What if I don’t live in a high-risk flooding area?

You can still buy flood insurance even if you don’t live in a high-risk area. You never know when a summer flash flood could hit your home. Even low or medium-risk homes can be at risk for flooding – floods are a very common weather-related disaster in the US. Plus, the damage from just an inch of water can be extremely costly. Yikes.

What if I rent my Atlanta home?

You can still purchase flood insurance for your belongings. Covering the structure itself is up to the owner of the property – they take that responsibility in their own hands.

A flood watch was just issued for my area for the next week or so. Can I buy flood insurance and be good to go?

You can buy the insurance…but it won’t do you much good for the potential flood that’ll happen in the next week. Flood insurance policies typically take effect 30 days after they’re bought.

There's a time limit before flood insurance becomes effective.

Now, if you have to get flood insurance because your lender requires it for you to get a loan, or to increase, extend, or renew an existing loan, don’t worry. There’s no waiting period for that situation.

Hopefully we were able to answer some of the questions you might have about flood insurance. Your home is valuable, so consider securing your peace of mind with a flood insurance policy today. If you have any further questions about flood insurance, please don’t hesitate to ask. We’d be happy to help you with any of your insurance needs. If you want to get a free quote on your Atlanta home insurance, we can do that, too!

Source: FEMA

Summertime grilling safety tips (Or how to grill without burning the house down)

Now that we’re well into the summer, you might be thinking about having a barbecue and inviting your friends, family, and neighbors over for an old-school grill-out. You’ve bought the burgers, the chicken, the hot dogs, and, of course, the condiments (which, let’s face it, are the best part.) So grocery-wise you’re all set. You’re ready to fire up the grill and fill the air with that juicy, smoky barbecue smell.

Don't forget to be safe when you grill!

But before you start throwing on the burgers, it’s important to remember that grills – in addition to producing delicious food – are dangerous. Yes, something that allows you to cook a mouthwatering meal might seem innocent, but grills can turn on you if you don’t take the right precautions. An unsafe grill is a home insurance claim in the making.

So, we’ve put together some of those precautions so you can get to grilling!

1. Know your grill.

Do you have a gas or a charcoal grill? This is important because they’re meant to be used differently. Gas grills require propane whereas charcoal grills require, well, charcoal and fire.

Anyways. This is important because you should never put starter fluid on a gas grill. Starter fluid is only for charcoal grills.

2. Take care of your gas grill.

If you have a gas grill, you need to make sure that you don’t have any propane leaks. Check the spot where the propane tank and fuel line are connected and make sure there are no leaks. If you think you have a leak, turn off the gas and DO NOT light the grill. Instead, get it fixed by a professional before cooking anything. (On the bright side, this gives you a good excuse to impose on your neighbors – now they get to host the get-together!)

Oh, and one more thing – never, ever use matches to check for propane leaks. Fire + propane = not good.

Make sure that your grill is in good working order.

3. Keep the grill outside.

Don’t bring your barbecue into an enclosed, unventilated space, like your garage or home. This is a major fire hazard, but it’s also a carbon monoxide and smoke hazard, too. Carbon monoxide is not to be trifled with. It’s an odorless, colorless gas that can cause extremely serious health problems, so make sure to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

4. Respect the grill’s power of flammability.

Keep your grill away from things that could catch on fire. You should place it at least three feet from things like trees, outdoor furniture, and, oh, yes, your house.

Also, don’t grill on a wooden deck or porch. That could end up catching fire.

 5. Keep the kiddos and pets away from the grill.

Your kids and pets might wander too close and end up getting hurt, so keep them at a safe distance and don’t let them run around or play close to the barbecue. You don’t want them to get burned. Make sure that your home is sufficiently childproofed to avoid any mishaps.

Keep the pets and kids at a safe distance from the grill.

6. Have good food-safety habits.

When you prep and cook food, you need to make sure that you’re keeping everything clean and not exposing the food to bacteria and other icky things that can make people sick. Food poisoning is not fun.

A few Food-Prep 101 tips:

  • Wash your hands frequently (or use moist towelettes if you’re outside working the grill).
  • Keep raw food away from cooked food.
  • Don’t use the utensils you’re handling the raw food with on the cooked food.
  • Marinate the meat in the fridge, not on the counter. Meat needs to be refrigerated.
  • Cook the food thoroughly. Burgers should be cooked to 160˚F and chicken should be cooked to 165˚F.
  • Put the leftovers in the fridge ASAP. Don’t wait longer than two hours to refrigerate the leftover food.

7. Don’t invite carcinogens to the party.

Carcinogens, or substances that cause cancer, are also a risk of grilling. When fat from meat drips onto the flames or charcoal, the smoke produced rises to the meat and releases carcinogens.

To reduce the chances of releasing carcinogens:

  • Cook lean meats, like turkey burgers or lean cuts of beef. These have less grease. Also, cut the visible fat from poultry before throwing it on the grill.
  • Marinate the meat. Herbs can prevent carcinogens from forming because they have natural antioxidants that do so.
  • Scrub the grill with a wire brush after every use. This will clear the grill of any leftover chunks of food that could drip through the grates and release carcinogen-rich smoke.
  • Use nonstick cooking spray. This prevents food build-up from forming on your grill.

A clean grill is a happy grill.

So, there you have it – how to have that relaxing, casual grill-out safely! Now that you’re a grill-safety pro, you’re ready to invite the neighborhood to your place and have a feast. Let the hamburgers and hot dogs fly!

Need home insurance, auto insurance, or renters insurance? We’d love to help you out with all of your insurance needs! We can get you free quotes for your insurance. Just fill out our quote form or give us a call today.

10 fireworks safety tips for the 4th of July (or any time of the year)

Stay safe while using fireworks.

The Fourth of July is here, and with it, lots and lots of fireworks. You might be thinking about putting on a display to celebrate Independence Day. Yes, fireworks are part of the Fourth of July deal, but they’re also very dangerous. It’s important not to underestimate the damage that they can do. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, about 250 people go the emergency room for firework-related injuries every day in the month surrounding July 4th.

But guess what? We’ve got some tips that you can follow to help you stay safe this Fourth of July.

Tip #1. Keep the pyrotechnics outside.

Set fireworks off outdoors and make sure to choose your location wisely. That means staying away from things that are flammable, including people, homes, and trees or bushes.

Tip #2. Have water on hand.

Just in case things get out of control, it’s a good idea to have some water handy. Have either some buckets or a hose that’s ready to go nearby.

Tip #3. Carry and set off fireworks intelligently.

Okay, a few basic rules for handling the pyrotechnics:

  • Don’t carry them in your pockets.
  • Don’t set them off from a metal or glass container – bad idea.
  • Light them one at a time.
  • Never place any piece of your body over the device while you’re lighting it.
  • Back up to a safe distance after lighting.
  • After they’re done burning, dump a lot of water on the used devices before you throw them away.

Tip #4. Use the fireworks as they’re meant to be used.

In other words, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Don’t deviate from the instructions or try and make your own. And don’t combine fireworks for a bigger boom – that’s just not a good idea.

Be sure to follow the safety instructions on your fireworks.

Tip #5. Keep the audience at bay.

Make sure that the people who come to admire the pretty lights are a safe distance away. Also, make sure that they don’t get too close to the debris.

Tip #6. Wear goggles.

Eyes are sensitive. Fireworks can be especially dangerous for your eyesight, so make sure that you’re wearing come protective eyewear when handling and setting them off.

Tip #7. Don’t drink and fireworks.

This is just common sense. Alcohol and things that explode don’t mix.

Tip #8. Don’t try to force a firework to light.

If there’s a firework that just won’t light, don’t try to relight it after it doesn’t ignite the first time. Give it about twenty minutes, then dunk it in a bucket of water.

Be sure to handle fireworks safely.

Tip #9. Don’t let small children near the sparklers.

Sparklers burn at almost 2000˚F. That’s really hot – hot enough to melt some metals. Small kiddos shouldn’t handle sparklers, and you need to supervise very carefully if there are older kids using them. Set some ground rules for sparkler fun, too – no running, throwing, chasing, etc.

Another note – don’t let the kids pick up the remains of the devices after the show. These could still be flammable or liable to explode.

Tip #10. Make sure you’re respecting all relevant rules and laws.

You need to check and make sure that fireworks are legal in your area. Does your area even allow them?

If your area does allow them, you also have to check about the type of fireworks you set off. What kind of fireworks are allowed? (You should stick to the ones meant for consumers.) Make sure that you use the legal ones, not the illegal ones. Check out the rules and laws about what fireworks are okay and which are not. And for the ones that are not – steer clear. Do not use.

There may also be also certain restrictions on where you can set off fireworks and what time of day. Make sure you check those out. Also keep in mind that your specific neighborhood or city could have its own ordinances about fireworks, so don’t ignore those.

Bonus: Tip #11. Think about your pets.

If you’re going to have a show near your home, make sure you keep your pets safe. The loud noises could scare them, so make sure that they’re comfortable in an interior room of your house. Don’t bring pets to the display. They don’t understand why things are suddenly going boom, so they might not like it too much. You don’t want them to run away because they get spooked.

Don't forget that your pets might get scared because of the fireworks.

Bottom line: fireworks are dangerous.

Stay safe while you celebrate the Fourth of July, and take extra care if your patriotic plans involve a firework display. It might be best to leave the pyrotechnics to the professionals. Plus, it’s a lot less work to kick back and enjoy the show rather than putting it on yourself!

Sources:

http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/fireworks.html

https://www.cpsc.gov/Safety-Education/Safety-Education-Centers/Fireworks

What are the risks of offering valet parking for your restaurant?

You might decide to hire a contractor to do your valet parking.

Atlanta is a car city, there’s no denying it. There are always lots of vehicles on the road, and that means that there are a lot of people in need of parking. To solve this problem for the customers who will visit your restaurant, you might be thinking about offering valet parking services. It makes life much more convenient for your guests if they’re able to pull up to your restaurant instead of having to circle Midtown or Downtown looking for a parking spot. But before you decide to go for it and start parking people’s cars, there are a few things you need to know about offering valet parking.

There are two options when it comes to valet parking, and both of them present their own risks. The first option is to hire drivers yourself, and the second is to bring in a valet contracting company. Now, even though both of these options have the same outcome—the cars get parked—there are different risks that you need to consider when weighing which route you want to go.

Valet parking isn't without its risks.

If you hire your own employees…

When you hire your own valet drivers, you take on the responsibility for your customer’s cars. Keep a few things in mind as you go through the hiring process:

Hiring practices are the best defense against risk.

You need to find people that you can trust to drive your customers’ cars, so you have to be pretty diligent in screening your applicants. Valet parking is a high-speed, fast-paced job, so you want to make sure that you hire careful, trustworthy people.

  • Look into the history and record of the applicant. This is the best way to see how much of a risk they represent.
  • Is their driving record clean, or have they had tickets or license suspensions?
  • Does their criminal background check look good? It would not be good if customer’s belongings started mysteriously growing legs and walking away.
  • Have they done a drug test?

Have a trial or training period.

During this time, have a seasoned valet employee ride with your new recruit. Your veteran valet can show them the ropes and make sure that they have good driving habits.

Ask whether or not the applicant can comfortably drive both manual and automatic cars.

You want to make sure that your valets are able to easily drive both a stick shift and an automatic car. It would be a bit awkward if no one was able to drive a manual car left in your drop-off lane.

Make sure you’ve got the right insurance coverage.

If you’re in charge of your valets, you need to make sure that you’re protected from all of the risks that come along with valeting your customers’ cars. The people dining at your restaurant are trusting you to bring their vehicle back in exactly the same condition that they left it.

The coverages you should consider are:

  • Garagekeepers: This covers any damages that might happen to a customer’s car while it’s in your care.
  • General liability: This protects you from the damages that you’re legally obligated to pay if you cause harm to someone’s person or property.
  • Employee dishonesty: This covers you from any stunts that your employees might pull, like stealing.

You might decide to hire a contractor to do your valet parking.

Talk to your insurance carrier to see how offering valet services will affect your coverage. They’ll be able to help you make sure that you have the right coverage to protect you from all of your risks.

If you use a contracting service.

If you’ve decided that you don’t want to worry about the risk of hiring your own valet drivers, you might consider getting a service instead. Before you do, there are a few things that you should pay attention to:

You don’t control who the company hires.

When you contract out the valet work, you’re giving up a measure of control over the service. You don’t have any say in who the contractor hires, so make sure that they have safe and thorough hiring practices. Make sure that you can trust their employees.

Safety should be their priority.

Make sure that the company is reputable and has a strong reputation for safety. You don’t want them to hurt your business’s reputation. The valet is associated with your restaurant, though they don’t technically work for you, so they should be a good representative of your business.

The contracting company takes on the risk, so they need to have proper insurance.

One good thing about hiring a valet parking company for your restaurant is that you free yourself from risk, as the company takes on responsibility for their employees and the cars. However, you need to make sure that they have the right insurance coverage so that if something did happen, they’d be covered.

Don’t leave anything up to chance. Do some research before making any decisions.      

  • Check that the company has proof of insurance.
  • Make sure that you won’t be responsible for any damages.
  • Call the valet company’s insurance carrier to double check that everything’s in order.
  • Be aware of any risks or gaps in the coverage they could leave you open to risks.

If you hire a valet parking company, make sure that they're insured.

Valet parking is a convenience for your Atlanta customers who would otherwise struggle to park in Midtown or Downtown, but it also presents you with some significant risk. Before you start valeting any cars, make sure that you fully understand the risks and responsibilities, and think about whether hiring your own employees or hiring a contracting valet service is best for your business.

Want to talk more about insurance? Great! Give us a call or fill out our quote form. We’d love to chat with you about any of your insurance needs.

8 tips for what to do if there’s a power outage

Living near Atlanta, we’re lucky that we’re not faced with too many natural disasters. We get the odd tornado warning (and actual tornado – remember 2008?) and sometimes some ice during the winter, but we typically don’t get hit by hurricanes, mudslides, wildfires, and the like. But even so, we’re not immune to power outages. Though we may not get hurricanes, we still get severe storms with heavy rain, which can knock out the electricity. We also have very hot summers. The heat puts a strain on the power supply as the air-conditioners blast away, and that strain can also cause a power outage.

Anyways, the point is that you need to be prepared for what to do if the power does kick off all of a sudden. It’s important to stay safe and be prepared – there are some things that you should and should not do if you’re suddenly plunged into darkness when a power outage strikes.

1. Don’t play with matches.

Use flashlights. Repeat: use flashlights. Candles have a nasty habit of getting knocked over and catching things on fire, as if you didn’t already have enough to deal with! You don’t want to risk any singed fingers or hair. Plus, candles are messy.

2. Power down.

If the power goes out, it’s a good idea to unplug your electronic devices. This might seem counterproductive. The power’s already out, so why bother unplugging things or turning them off?

The trouble comes when the power kicks back on after the power outage. The sudden flood of electricity can create a mini-surge. Mini-surges are not good for your electronics – your computers, your AC unit, and your fridge are all at risk. The electricity being pumped into these devices can fry them, so to avoid toasting your computer go ahead and unplug it.

3. Keep the fridge shut tight.

To keep your food cool and edible for as long as possible, keep the doors to your fridge and freezer closed. Try to avoid opening them if you can. The goal is to keep your food fresh by trapping the cooler air inside.

If the power’s out long enough, you might not have a choice but to eat the food that should have been refrigerated. Be mindful that this food may have gone bad. Check thoroughly for any sign that it’s not good anymore—you don’t want to get sick.

Note: If anyone in your family takes medication that needs to be kept refrigerated, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor or pharmacist ahead of time about what you should do if you have a power outage. Next time you’re at an appointment, try to remember to ask them.

4. Be smart with your generator.

First rule: keep the generator outside. This means outside of the garage, too. Generators can throw off carbon monoxide, which can be deadly. Don’t put it in the house.

Second rule: don’t hook the generator up to your home’s electrical system. If you want to plug anything in, use the outlets on the generator.

5. Stay informed.

Use a radio or TV that’s powered by generator or battery to listen to any updates about the power outage. Don’t call 911 just to get information—only call if there’s an emergency.

6. Mind the weather.

Power outages tend to happen at the least opportune times. Do what you can to stay comfortable.

If it’s hot outside, wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing. Camp out on the lowest level of the house, as cool air is heavier than warm air and will stay lower to the ground. You may have to go somewhere that still has air conditioning or somewhere that you know will be cooler than your home.

If it’s cold, bundle up. Layers are fantastic. Dig out the fuzzy socks, cozy sweaters, and quilts. Don’t use charcoal or your oven to stay warm – instead, try to find a place in your community, like a mall, that has heat and head over if it’s too cold to stay in your house. Or hang out with family or friends if they happen to have heat.

7. Take care of the pets.

Your pets still need clean, fresh water and kibble. Make sure to give them what they need during the power outage – they’re probably confused by the commotion! Fido will thank you.

8. Keep things fun.

If the power goes out, remain calm. Don’t panic at the loss of electronics. Believe it or not, there are fun things to do that don’t require electricity or wi-fi – who knew? When the power goes out, break out the old board games and have at it. You can dig out a book you’ve been meaning to read and use a flashlight. You can draw or doodle. You can do crafts. You can play charades. You’re not going to waste away from lack of computers and cell-phones. These devices will betray you and run out of battery sooner or later.

If you live in Atlanta, you know that power outages happen. When everything goes dark, don’t panic. Stay safe. Try to keep informed about what’s going on, don’t light any candles, and don’t bring the generator inside. Use the time to have fun and bond with your family. You’ll find a way to stay entertained.

Got home insurance questions? We can help! Give us a call today to talk to our agents about finding the best insurance at the best rate. We like free things, so we’ll even get you a free quote if you fill out this form.

Source:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/10/11/kostigen-column-blackouts/16983135/

Rodney Cook Sr. Park project underway in Atlanta’s Vine City

Who doesn’t love a nice, peaceful day at the park? Fresh air, birds chirping, greenness everywhere. Well, my friends, if you’re a park-lover, you’re in luck! The city recently broke ground for a new park in the Vine City area. Rodney Cook Sr. Park is due to open late this year or early next year.

According to an AJC.com article, the park is named for Rodney Cook, a former city alderman and state representative who backed several anti-discrimination causes during his time in and out of office. He served from the 1950s to the 1970s. One of the park’s goals is to honor the neighborhood’s Civil Rights history with 18 monuments to civil rights leaders and peacemakers. It will also have the library of civil rights leader C.T. Vivian and a 110-ft peace column.

The Atlanta Watershed article about the new park explains that the park is intended to help with the flooding that the Vine City area often experiences when the city gets heavy rain (which happens, you know, quite a lot.) This magic will happen with the addition of a pond system that will collect rain water. Based on the rainfall of the past six years, the pond will collect 37 million gallons of water from 150 acres of land. That’s a lot of water! The park will include green infrastructure to make the flood relief happen, and the flood measures are intended to reduce the strain on the city’s sewer systems.

The park is also intended to be a place for community gathering and recreation, giving city-dwellers more green space to enjoy. The park will be located by Joseph E. Boone Boulevard near-ish to Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and the 16-acre park will eventually be connected to the Beltline. The Atlanta Watershed article also pointed out that the park will provide the opportunity for job training and educating people about the environment.

The $45 million park will be funded by the city, businesses, and various non-profits. Major players in the park project are the City of Atlanta, the Trust for Public Land, The National Monuments Foundation (which will be in charge of the monuments we mentioned earlier), and the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation.

Living in the city might make us feel a little disconnected from nature and the environment. The Rodney Cook Sr. Park will benefit the city in many ways – it’ll control flooding, provide a community space, and honor the history of the Vine City neighborhood all at the same time! Talk about multitasking! With the Rodney Cook Sr. Park, we will have another place to get some fresh air and enjoy nature. For more information about the park, you can visit their website.

Need a quote for your home, life, renters, auto, or small business insurance? We’d love to help you out with that! Give us a call today or fill out our quote form and we’ll get you a free quote.

Sources:

http://www.ajc.com/news/local/ground-broken-launch-new-park-atlanta-westside/K1h3BjlUqRIpK30qqeY4wM/

http://www.atlantawatershed.org/projects/cook-park/

http://www.ajc.com/news/rodney-mims-cook-former-alderman-and-state-representative/sdDKz9lWQFITAR19HihVVI/

6 things you need to know about taking a home inventory (and why you should take one)

While taking a home inventory might seem like a tedious, slightly soul-sucking task that’s going to take forever, it’s extremely important when it comes to your home insurance. A home inventory is pretty much a list of the items in each room in your house, along with the estimated cost of each item. Taking a home inventory is fairly straightforward, but we’ll walk you through the benefits of having one and give you some tips for making sure you have a top-notch inventory.

What are the benefits of having a home inventory?

There are a few reasons why we’re advising you to spend a good bit of time wandering around your home with a clipboard and pen.

1. A home inventory will help you in the event of a claim.

If your house was destroyed in a fire or your home is burglarized, you’ll need to have a detailed list of everything that was taken to make sure that you can have everything replaced. Let’s face it – our memories aren’t perfect. We will forget things, especially in the aftermath of a trauma like a fire or a burglary.

2. Having a home inventory will help you negotiate with your insurance company.

It’s a sad reality, but insurance fraud is on the rise, which means that insurance carriers are often skeptical of claims. If you have a home inventory already prepared and ready to go, it’ll help you prove your case to the insurance carrier and make the claims process much smoother.

3. Your home inventory will help you find out if you have enough insurance coverage on your home.

A home inventory can help you find out how much home insurance you need. By taking stock of all of your possessions and their approximate prices, you’ll have an idea of how much coverage you’ll need to make sure that everything can get replaced by your insurance. You should have coverage that matches the cost of your possessions at today’s prices to make sure that your home can be restored as good as new.

Pro tips for taking your home inventory.

Pro tip #1: Be thorough.

Make sure that you visit every room on your home inventory mission, and record all of the contents of that room. Open drawers and cabinets and look in closets to make sure that you’re writing everything down. You don’t want to miss something important.

Pro tip #2: Include photos or video.

Like we mentioned before, insurance fraud is becoming a problem. Having photos or video footage of each room will help you prove your case to the insurance carrier, not to mention help you remember what you need to claim as lost.

Pro tip #3: Keep your receipts.

If you make a significant purchase for your home, like a new television or stereo system, you’ll want to hang on to that receipt and include it in your inventory. Again, this will help you know what you need to claim and how much it cost.

Pro tip #4: Pay extra attention to jewelry, artwork, and furs.

These items will need to be appraised regularly to make sure that you have an accurate representation of their current price. You don’t want to get $1,000 for a necklace that’s actually worth $1,500, right? Plus, you’ll want to make sure that you find out the best way to insure your jewelry, and that starts with knowing all of your pieces and their value. You may need to increase your coverage if one of your valuable possessions goes up in value, and that’s where these appraisals and your inventory come in handy.

Pro tip #5: Store your inventory somewhere safe.

When you’re all done with creating your inventory, make sure that you choose a safe place to stash it, preferably outside of your home. It really won’t help you if your inventory gets destroyed along with your home. Keeping the inventory in a safe deposit box at your bank isn’t a bad idea.

Pro tip #6: Update your inventory regularly.

Make sure that your inventory is up to date. If you’re not checking it and adding to it regularly, it won’t include new items that you’ve purchased. Plus, going over your inventory at least once a year will help you make sure that you’ve still got enough insurance to protect your personal possessions.

Having an inventory can really make a difference if you ever face a major loss related to your home. It will really help you if you have to file an insurance claim. With an inventory, you’ll know exactly what to claim and how much coverage you need. Set aside some time and work away at taking that inventory – you’ll thank yourself later.

To help you in your inventory-related endeavors, we’ve got a PDF of an inventory checklist for you to download and follow as a guide. Download our inventory checklist

Need insurance? We can help! Whether it’s home insurance, auto insurance, or renters’ insurance, we can talk to you about your specific insurance needs and get you a free quote.

Lights, Camera, Atlanta – Our film industry is booming!

What news?

Atlanta is known for more than just peaches and horrible traffic, people! Our film industry is growing. There are a lot of movies and TV shows that have filmed here, and we thought we’d take a look at what’s happening now.

What’s been filmed here that I’ve heard of?

Over the years, lots of popular movies and TV shows have been shot right here in our backyard. Some of the ones you’ve probably heard of are The Hunger Games and Allegiant. Atlanta’s also been making a name for itself in the TV industry, especially with popular shows like The Vampire Diaries, The Walking Dead, and Stranger Things being filmed in the area. And the buzz won’t die down anytime soon – Stranger Things and The Walking Dead continue to film here, according to an Atlanta Magazine article.

What’s happenin’ now?

What’s filming in the city now? As per usual, Atlanta’s film industry is busy, busy, busy. There are lots of movies being filmed and produced in and around the city right now. Some of them are…

  • The sequel to Bad Moms (starring Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, and Kathryn Hahn) – Comedy
  • The War with Grandpa (starring Robert DeNiro) – Comedy
  • Rampage (starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) – Action
  • Darkest Minds (starring Gwendoline Christie, Amandla Stenberg, and Mandy Moore) – YA Dystopia/Sci-fi
  • Game Day (starring Rachel McAdams, Jason Bateman, and Jesse Plemons) – Comedy

Well, and we have to give a shout-out to Spiderman: Homecoming, which is due to release this summer. It was also filmed right here in Atlanta!

As far as TV shows go, the following are still filming in our city…

  • The Walking Dead
  • Stranger Things
  • Lore (an Amazon show)
  • AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire

Keep in mind that these are only a few of the many, many movies and shows filming in Atlanta! This is by no means an exhaustive list.

So, there we have it – Atlanta’s becoming a star! Our films might not have the same budgets as some of the super Blockbusters, but we’re still doing very well for ourselves. The film industry is helping Atlanta’s economy, and it doesn’t seem like the filming progress will be slowing down anytime soon.

Need home, auto, renters, life, or small business insurance? We can help! Give us a call today or fill out our quote form and we’ll get you a free quote on your insurance!

Sources:

http://www.atlantamagazine.com/news-culture-articles/whats-filming-atlanta-now-bad-moms-christmas-pact-darkest-minds-stranger-things-break-down-filmla-report/

http://www.atlantamagazine.com/news-culture-articles/whats-filming-in-atlanta-now-simon-vs-the-homo-sapiens-agenda-the-last-full-measure-darkest-minds-plus-looming-wga-strike-threaten-georgia/

http://www.ajc.com/business/employment/big-movies-filming-georgia-2017/ZoDbPauZeN6lPk19VCd0xM/ 

How to fight against mosquito bites in Atlanta (and win)

The pest control company, Orkin, recently released its list of worst cities for mosquito populations nationwide, according to an 11Alive.com article. The list, which Orkin releases once a year, is based on how many residential and business jobs or calls Orkin gets. Guess where Atlanta ranks on the list, for the fourth year in a row?

We’re #1. Oh, yeah. Bet you never would have – slap – guessed.

Out of the 50 cities on the list, 20 of them are located in the Southeast, so we’ve got regional company. Mosquitoes might just seem like an annoying, itchy nuisance that we have to put up with since we live in a hot, humid climate, but the truth of the matter is that mosquitoes are more dangerous than you might think.

Mosquitoes carry some very scary diseases, such as West Nile Virus, malaria, and Zika, which has been known to cause birth defects in babies born to mothers with Zika. The 11Alive article reports that many Americans are not overly concerned about these diseases or mosquitoes, a trend that they gleaned from a Gallup poll. But mosquitoes are a big deal. The CDC reports that they’ve seen more than 5000 cases in the United States since 2015 and that the virus has occurred in more than 20 states.

To prevent any mosquito-related diseases – not to mention itchy red bites that are enough to drive you crazy – there are a few things you can do. It might seem like a losing battle at times, but take heart! You can defeat the biting invaders that take over your lawn. Here are some tips from the EPA to help you prevent mosquito bites.

1. Destroy the home base of the winged monsters.

To turf the mosquitoes out of your yard for good, get rid of their hiding places. Mosquitoes are attracted to certain places that they like to call home sweet home, so get rid of their homes and you’ll be one step ahead of them.

To eliminate mosquito homes, you can:

  • Get rid of any standing water. This includes your gutters, buckets, toys, and other places that water can collect.
  • Take care of your bird baths, fountains, wading pools, and rain barrels by changing the water out at least once a week. You’ll get rid of any mosquito homes that are taking root.
  • Fill in any puddles or standing water on the ground with dirt.
  • Make sure your pool is filtering and cleaning properly (if you have a pool.)

2. Arm yourself with pesticides.

You might need to resort to pesticides to get rid of the buzzing beasts. You can always call an insect or pest control specialist to help you out with spraying your yard.

3. Shield your home from intruders.

 

Your home should be impenetrable to the tiny pests. The only thing worse than getting bitten when you’re outside is getting bitten when you’re inside. To protect your home and up your defenses:

  • Take care of any cracks or gaps in your walls, windows, and doors. Seal the entrances.
  • Make sure the screens on your doors and windows work and aren’t broken or frayed.
  • If you have a baby, make sure that their carrier and bed are protected from mosquitoes by using netting.

4. Don your anti-mosquito armor.

If you know that you’re going to be outside and exposed to the buggy threat, try to wear long sleeves, pants, and socks. Tuck everything in (shirt to pants, pants to socks) to make sure there are no weak spots, like ankles, that could get bitten. Orkin’s website also points out that mosquitoes can still bite you if you’re wearing tight clothing, so wear-looser fitting clothes.

5. Find the right bug repellent for your needs.

For added protection, you can use an EPA certified repellent. Make sure to read the label carefully and follow the instructions to the letter. Don’t just spray nilly-willy. This stuff is strong.

For recommendations of EPA-approved bug repellents, you can visit the EPA website here and get a list based on what kind of pest you need protection from and for how long.

6. Stay indoors.

You can always hide inside, too. Sometimes you have to cede the territory to the bugs and try not to be outside in places where you know the bugs are bad. According to Orkin’s website, peak mosquito season is April through October. Mosquitoes like the warmer weather.

7. Change your outdoor lights.

Bugs like light. Mosquitoes are no exception. You can think about swapping the lights outside your house with yellow bug lights that will attract fewer mosquitoes. These lights aren’t repellents, necessarily, but fewer bugs means fewer bites.

So, if you find yourself slapping at more mosquitoes than usual, try some of the above tips. Be aware of the fact that we share our city with mosquitoes and take measures to reduce your chances of bites – and the illnesses that might come with them.

Need insurance? Great! Give us a call today or fill out our quote form and we’ll get you a free quote. Don’t be shy!

 

 

Sources:

https://www.epa.gov/insect-repellents/tips-prevent-mosquito-bites

https://www.epa.gov/insect-repellents/find-insect-repellent-right-you

https://www.orkin.com/press-room/orkin-releases-top-50-mosquito-cities-list/

http://www.11alive.com/news/local/atlanta-tops-the-list-for-most-mosquito-y-city-for-the-fourth-year-straight/436191767

How to be prepared for an Atlanta summer as an employer

There’s a reason that Atlanta has earned itself the nickname Hot-lanta. Summers can be absolutely brutal, with temperatures skyrocketing into the upper 90s. We also have to combat the humidity, which is its own struggle. The constant state of feeling sticky and sweaty are occupational hazards of being an Atlantan in the summer. But the sweltering temperatures and heavy air aren’t just uncomfortable—they’re also dangerous. For people who work outside, the heat can become a killer if it causes heat stress.

If you’re an employer who manages employees who work outside, there are a few things that you can do to make sure that your employees are safe in the summer heat. Of course, it’s important to remember that even employees who work inside can suffer from heat sickness. As an employer, it’s your responsibility to provide a safe workplace for your workers. But that’s not the only reason to practice heat safety—as we said before, the heat can be fatal.

How can people get sick from the heat?

The body has natural methods of regulating its temperature. When the body gets too hot, it releases sweat and moves heat to the surface so that it can escape. However, if the temperature and humidity are high (as they always are during Atlanta summers) the body might not be able to cool itself off. And if the heat can’t escape, it’ll get trapped inside, raising the body’s internal temperature. This is when heat illnesses can occur.

How bad is heat sickness?

There are different severities of heat stress. We’ll go over them from least severe to most severe. Note that any of these conditions warrant attention and first-aid, if not professional medical treatment.

Heat rash: Heat rash is caused by sweating profusely. It presents as bumps on the skin, particularly in areas that sweat a lot.

Heat cramps: Cramps are caused when salt is lost from sweating. It presents as pain in the muscles. To treat heat cramps, get the worker to a cool place and give them a sports drink or water to drink slowly. Let them rest for several hours. If you know they have a heart condition, get them medical attention.

Heat syncope: Dizziness or faintness from long periods of standing. Dehydration can sometimes cause syncope. If one of your workers becomes faint or dizzy from the heat, let them rest in a cool place and give them water—but make sure they drink slowly.

Heat exhaustion: This occurs when someone loses too much water and salt through sweating. The symptoms are excessive sweating, weakness, dizziness, nausea, clamminess, pallor, muscle cramps, and rapid/shallow breathing. If one of your workers presents with these symptoms, have them rest, drink water, and cool them off with wet towels or fans.

Heat stroke: This is a potentially fatal condition. It occurs when the body gives up the fight and stops trying to cool itself. The signs are hot/dry skin, hallucinations, chills, headache, confusion, vertigo, or high temperature. This is not to be taken lightly and requires medical attention immediately. Call 911, get the person to a cool or shaded area, and do everything you can to cool them down—you can use wet towels and fans.

What are some risk factors for heat stress?

Heat stress can occur in people who…

  • are dehydrated.
  • are unaccustomed to working in the heat.
  • are in poor health.
  • have had prior run-ins with heat illness.

It’s important to remember that heat illness affects workers who are indoors, too. Workers who are around machinery or objects that emit lots of heat or who come into contact with hot objects are also at risk. A lack of good air movement or ventilation in the workplace can result in heat illness.

If your workers are required to wear protective clothing or suits, they can also overheat. A lot of the time, protective clothing doesn’t breathe or allow for sweat and heat to be taken away from the body. This can lead to heat stress. Be aware of what your workers wear on the job and take appropriate steps to give them enough rest and breaks.

What can I do to reduce the risk of heat-related illness?

Train your employees and supervisors.

Make sure that your employees and your supervisors can recognize the signs of heat stress in themselves and others. If they know what to look for, they’ll be able to catch it sooner. Training is also a good time to talk about how vital it is to drink plenty of water and the best way to stay hydrated—by frequently drinking a little at a time. Also be sure to emphasize that workers need to tell the supervisor about any symptoms of heat illness ASAP.

Allow for workers to have time to build up a tolerance to the heat.

Workers who are new to outdoor labor, who are returning to work after time off, or who are facing the heat for the first time in the season are especially at risk for heat illness because their bodies haven’t had time to acclimatize to being in the heat. Allow for new workers to take lots of breaks and start them off slow—let them increase their workload over time.

Provide lots of water.

OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) recommends one pint per worker per hour. Water is your friend. Dehydration, not so much. Let your workers drink lots of water.

Give lots of breaks.

Workers need time for breaks in cool, shaded, or air-conditioned places so their bodies get to rest from the heat.

Pay attention to the heat index.

The heat index calculates the outdoor temperature and humidity. This is especially important in Atlanta—if you’ve ever experienced an Atlanta summer, you know that the humidity is absolutely brutal. In a humid place, sweat can’t evaporate and leave the body like it’s supposed to, which greatly reduces the body’s natural ability to cool itself. Make sure that you’re aware of the risk of heat illness by understanding the heat index and taking precautions.

Make the workplace more comfortable.

If your employees work inside with machines or objects that throw off a lot of heat, use air conditioning and ventilation systems. Fans and exhaust ventilation for super hot or humid areas will also help. To combat heat that’s emitted from machines, you can use reflective shields. It’s also important to make sure there are no places for steam to leak (steam can get extremely hot) and to make sure that “hot spots” are insulated.   

Use protective clothing that allows for cooling.

You can get protective clothing that’s tripped out to keep employees cool. For example, some suits have backpacks with a portable air-conditioner, and there are jackets that have compartments for ice packs.

Respect the power of the heat. Take measures to combat it and don’t underestimate how severe heat sickness can be. Atlanta is both a hot environment and a humid one, and those things together are a recipe for disaster when summer hits. Be mindful of how hot it is outside and take care of your workers.

If you have any questions about your business insurance, we can help! We’ll take the time to understand your business’s specific risks and insurance needs. We’ll even get you a free quote. Call us today or fill out this form and we’ll help you out!

Sources:

https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatstress/prevention.html#workpractices

http://smallbusiness.findlaw.com/employment-law-and-human-resources/heat-stress-osha-regulations.html

https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/heat_index/about.html

https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatstress/prevention.html