Will My Homeowners Insurance Cover a Sinkhole?

When dealing with insurance, getting a concrete “yes or no” answer is often difficult. We say this because the insurance market offers various degrees of coverage. Moreover, each insurer, whether big or small, operates differently.

The same goes for sinkhole coverage in your homeowners insurance policy. While getting coverage for sinkholes on the property depends on the insurance company, you also need to take your state and city into account.

We say this because many homeowners invest in sinkhole insurance to ensure they’re covered. This especially applies to homeowners residing in regions that are notorious for sinkholes. Some of these places include Kentucky, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Texas, Florida, Tennessee, and Georgia.

Keep on reading to find out whether your homeowners insurance will cover a sinkhole and how you can protect your home.

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11 tips for holiday decorating safety (and avoiding home insurance claims)

Make sure to avoid fire hazards when you decorate for the holidays.

Make sure to avoid fire hazards when you put up holiday decorations.

If you’re gearing up for the holidays, you’re probably already scheming how you want to decorate your Atlanta home. You’re thinking lights. You’re thinking lawn decorations. You’re thinking festive holiday cheer. It’s all starting to take form. But the thing is that holiday decorations can go horribly awry. We’ve got 11 holiday decorating safety tips to help you avoid a catastrophe – and a potential home insurance claim. Don’t let an unexpected fire ruin your holiday cheer.

Tips for holiday decorating safety

1. Check all your lights before using them.

Whether you’ve bought new lights or you’re pulling your tried and true set out of the attic, make sure to check all the strings of lights. Look for cracking in the cord, broken cords, fraying, exposed wires, and loose connections. Get rid of any lights that could be unsafe. (This can help you prevent electrical fires.) You definitely don’t want an electrical fire to get in the way of the holidays.

2. Follow all instructions for electrical decorations.

Yes, instructions aren’t super fun to read. But it’s important to follow all the proper directions for using and installing your decorations. Just do what the manufacturer tells you to – improvisation is not a great strategy when electricity is involved.

3. Don’t connect too many lights to a single extension cord.

Don’t put more than three sets of lights on a single extension cord. You could overload it. These things are only designed to take so much strain.

4. Check for the UL testing label on all decorations.

Make sure the decorations have a label certifying that they’ve been tested by the UL (Underwriters Laboratory) – this is a consumer product testing laboratory that makes sure various products are safe for use.

5. Be careful with your outdoor lighting.

If you’re plugging in lights outside, make sure that you’re only using GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupting) outlets. These are designed to protect the outlet from exposure to water. (Remember – water and electricity do NOT mix.)

Also, don’t use staples or nails on your outdoor lighting cords. While you want the lights to be secured to something stable so that they won’t sustain wind damage, it’s probably not a great idea to stab them with metal things.

6. Watch your indoor extension cords.

If you’ve got extension cords inside the house, avoid putting them under furniture, rugs, and so on. These things can cause the cords to get really hot, and that can lead to problems of the fiery variety.

(On a bit of a side note, getting Atlanta home insurance means that you can protect yourself financially in the event of a fire or another loss. Need some help getting quotes? Just give us a call or fill out our online quote form and we’ll be happy to help you find the coverage that’s right for you.)

7. Set your tree up carefully.

First of all, use a sturdy tree stand to keep your tree standing. Anchor it to the wall or ceiling with guy wires if you have to. (Curious pets do love to climb on trees…potentially causing them to crash to the ground.)

And think about where you’re putting the tree. It needs to be at least three feet away (preferably farther) from anything that could produce heat. Think about it – trees are wood and needles. And wood burns. Yup. Make sure your tree isn’t going to go up in flames.

If you’re going the artificial tree route, make sure that it’s made out of a fire-resistant material.

8. Be careful with your ornaments and decorations.

It’s a good idea to make sure all ornaments or decorations are made of flame-resistant material. If you have kids or pets, you probably don’t want ornaments that could break into sharp pieces that could slice someone. You also probably don’t want to have ornaments that are small or are made of small parts, as these present a choking hazard. Be mindful of what you’re putting up around the house and what tiny fingers or paws could reach and eat and/or destroy.

9. Unplug lights before bed or leaving the house.

Yes, your lights look beautiful at night when it gets dark. But turn them off before you head to bed or before you leave the house. You don’t want any fires to start while you’re either sleeping or not at home. It’s best that you’re at home and alert when your lights are lit because you’ll be able to notice any problems with the lights or outlets sooner rather than later.

10. Don’t put the wrapping paper near the fire or other heat sources.

Presents are exciting. But make sure that you don’t let the wrapping paper get too close to the fireplace or any heat sources. Paper is made of trees, and as we’ve established, trees are flammable.

Also, don’t burn wrapping paper in the fireplace or in a bonfire. That’s just not a great idea. It’ll probably get a bit more out-of-hand than you were hoping it would.

11. Only keep your tree for two weeks.

While you might want to keep your tree up forever – it’s so pretty! – it’s best to only have it for about two weeks. If you keep it longer than that, it’s going to dry out a lot. And a dry tree is way more flammable than a fresh tree. Unfortunately, trees just don’t last that long when you keep them inside.

The holidays are a great time of year, but it’s important to decorate safely. Get into the holiday spirit safely to avoid having the joy and cheer interrupted by a fire or accident. (And, as a general rule, it’s also a good idea to avoid a home insurance claim.) Anyways, stay safe this holiday season!

If you’re looking for home insurance quotes, we can help. Our agents can help you get multiple quotes so you can compare rates and save on your Atlanta home insurance. You can get started with your quotes by filling out our online quote form or giving us a call today.

Source:

https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/611.pdf

14 steps to secure your Atlanta home and prevent burglary while you’re on vacation

It's important to keep your home safe while you're on vacation.

It's important to keep your home safe while you're on vacation.If you’re planning a family vacation this summer, you’re probably looking forward to getting out of town for a little while. But in all the excitement, don’t forget to take some steps to secure your house before you leave. When you’re not there to keep an eye on things, your home can be susceptible to burglary. That’s why you need to outsmart the burglars and amp up the security around your house. The following tips can help you get your home ready for your vacation and prevent a burglary.

14 tips for home safety while you’re on vacation

1. Consider getting a home security system.

Monitored home security systems can help deter burglars from attempting to break into your house. They can also alert the police to a burglary and send them to your house quickly. If you don’t already have a security system, you may want to consider having one installed. And if you do have one, check that everything’s working properly before you head out on your trip.

The benefits of a home security system don’t stop at the added protection for your home. A home security system can help you save money on your home insurance because many insurance companies offer a discount if you have one. So, you can protect your home and save money on your insurance at the same time – it’s a win-win.

2. Know where all your keys are (and don’t hide a key outside.)

It’s important to know where each key to the house is so that none of them get misplaced or lost. Keep track of all keys.

Also, don’t leave a key hidden outside. Burglars know the best hiding places for house keys. Under the mat? Yep. In the potted plant? Yep. On the eaves? Yep. The burglars think that same way you do. So, if you think you’re outsmarting them…you might just be outsmarting yourself.

3. Lock everything.

Okay, we know this one’s a little “no duh.” But it’s still very important to double check that all windows and doors are securely locked before you leave for your trip. Don’t forget to do one last check that your home is locked up tight. Otherwise, you may as well yell, “Come on in, burglars!”

4. Do what you can to make sure your home looks occupied.

If your house looks dark and empty for a long period of time, it won’t take long for a burglar to figure out you’re not home. And they’re also looking for an easy target, which your home could be if you’re not home. To a burglar, they see a home that they can break into and skedaddle from with no one the wiser, perhaps for quite a while – long enough to make a clean getaway.

One way to make your home look lived-in is to get timers for your lights. The timers can turn the lights on and off at specific times so that it appears that someone’s moving around in the house. It makes it look like someone’s home, so your house becomes less of an easy mark.

5. Get someone to tend to your lawn.

An overgrown, slightly shaggy lawn can be a dead giveaway that no one’s home. Ask a neighbor or friend to mow your lawn and tend to any other landscaping tasks. It may seem like a small detail, but why not? It’s better to play it safe.

6. Ask a neighbor to keep an eye out for any flyers, packages, and so on.

Ask a trusted neighbor to look out for anything suspicious around your home. Advertisements stuck to the mailbox or flyers hanging from the doorknob can indicate that there’s no one home to throw them away. You can stop your paper and your mail, but sometimes people come and leave ads on the mailbox or on the driveway. It’s not a bad idea to have someone looking out for your place.

7. Put a hold on your mail.

You may want to stop your mail while you’re away so that it’s not piling up and doesn’t turn into Mount Mail outside your house. Or if you’ve got someone coming over to check on your house or feed the cat, you can ask them to bring the mail in every day.

8. Stop your newspapers.

Hmm…a pile of newspapers outside your house, dotting the driveway…That house looks like a good one to rob.

Newspapers piling up can be another sign that you’re not home. Either stop your newspaper or have your pet-sitter/house-sitter pick them up and bring them inside.

9. Move your valuables out of sight.

If you can, it’s not a bad plan to move your valuables so they’re out of sight. May as well not leave your expensive electronics in plain sight where potential burglars would be tempted. If you have jewelry and such, you might want to consider getting a hidden safe to keep those things super secure.

10. Be smart when you’re talking about your vacation plans.

It’s not the best plan to go broadcasting your vacation plans and blabbing about when you’re not going to be in town. You never know who could be listening to your conversation. Only tell people who need to know about the details of your travels and be discreet when you do. Tell your kids to be careful about it, too.

And another thing:

Don’t talk about your travel plans on social media, and try to refrain from posting pictures while you’re on your trip. It’s best to not inform the whole world where you are. Wait until you’re back to post your vacation pictures.

11. Consider getting outdoor automatic lights.

Light can be a major deterrent to burglars. You can think about getting exterior lights that run on timers so that they’ll come on every night and flood your yard with light.

12. Get a neighbor to pull your trashcan to the curb on trash pickup day.

Ask a neighbor to take your trashcan and recycling to the curb for pickup day and then put them away. That will help it look like you’re home. And then the trash won’t get too stinky either.

13. Unplug your electronics.

You can save money on your electrical bill by unplugging any electronics that aren’t necessary while you’re away (the fridge, of course, will have to stay on unless you want to come home to spoiled food.) This will also help you prevent an electrical fire while you’re away.

14. Consider getting a pet-sitter or house-sitter to stay at your house while you’re gone.

Asking someone that you trust to stay at your house can help you keep your house safe. Besides, if you have pets, you’ll need someone to check on them anyway. They’ll be able to keep an eye on your home – and check that no pipes have burst, no fires have started, and no disasters have happened. They can also get the mail, pick up the papers, take out the trash, and so on. And if you have cats or dogs, you’ll feel better knowing they have someone to keep them company and look after them.

Going on vacation is great, but you have to take steps to protect your home if you’re going on a road trip or traveling somewhere. Before you leave, take some time to ensure that everything is shipshape at home.

Another way to protect your home is to get home insurance. Our team can help you get Atlanta home insurance quotes from some of the top carriers in the country. We’ll help you get the best coverage at the best rate so you can get the insurance that’s right for you and save money. To get in touch with our team, all you have to do is fill out our online form or give us a call.

8 tips to stay safe with social media when you’re on vacation

When you're on vacation, it's important to be smart with social media.

When you're on vacation, it's important to be smart with social media.

When you’re super excited about a trip or vacation, it’s really easy to get carried away when it comes to posting on social media. But whether your preferred platform is Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, it’s important that you take proper precautions when it comes to your social media habits. If you’re not careful online, you could make your home a target for burglary. Believe it or not, burglars use social media to figure out which houses to burgle. When you post about being away from this date to that date, you’re telling the world that your house will be empty and unprotected. However, with these tips, you can help prevent a home burglary while you’re on vacation.

1. Don’t post about your travel plans.

If you put your travel dates, flight info, or vacation plans online, you’re opening yourself up to a world of trouble.

A tech-savvy burglar trolling Facebook could easily realize that you’re not going to be home, as we said, and what better time to strike than when no one’s home and they can take their time? They can break in, steal your stuff, and be gone before anyone’s the wiser. And they’ll have lots of time to make their getaway since no one’s going to be home to alert the police for a while.

Don’t announce your travel plans to the world. You don’t want to give a thief an invitation to your home.

2. Disable location services on your phone.

Location services on your phone often runs in the background unless you turn it off. Go to your settings and disable your location services so no one can figure out where you are. Usually, it’s as simple as hitting a button.

3. Tighten up your tagging settings.

Change your social media settings so that posts that people tag you in won’t automatically pop up on your page. Your traveling companions might tag you in a photo, and this is another way that thieves can figure out that you’re not home. Unfortunately, burglars are pretty clever. Take some time to check out your social media settings and make sure that posts you’re tagged in won’t appear on your page.

While you’re playing around with your settings, amp up your privacy and make it so that the entire world can’t look at your page. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

4. Don’t check-in at various locations.

You might have the option to “Check-In” on social media when you’re at certain locations. Resist the urge to check-in, as tempting as it might be. Checking-in can also be a dead giveaway if you’re not at home, as you’re essentially telling everyone, “Look at me, in this city that I don’t live in at this place that I’m on vacation in!” Whether you’re going on a road trip or flying, don’t holler about your whereabouts online.

If you're on social media, be careful and don't post your whereabouts.

5. Take a break from social media while you’re on vacation.

Just take a break from your social media accounts while you’re vacationing. Vacation is time for relaxing, experiencing new places, and spending time with family or friends. Don’t let the time fly by as you’re too busy looking at your phone to take in your surroundings or enjoy your time with your traveling companions. Yes, you might fear the unpleasant symptoms of social media withdrawal, but you will survive. You are strong. You can put the phone aside for your trip and simply live in the moment, absorbing all there is to see and relaxing.

6. Post about your trip after you’re back.

If you must take to social media to chronicle your escapades, wait until you’re home. This will give you the opportunity to go through all your pictures and choose your favorite ones to share, anyways, and that way you’re not bombarding people with photo and post overload.

7. Use scheduling tools for posts.

If you want, you can even consider using a scheduling software to create posts and set them to post at a later time – after you’ve returned. There are multiple platforms you can use to schedule and manage your posts. That way you can write or compose your post while the experience is still fresh, but your post won’t go live until you’re home.

8. Go over social media safety with your whole family.

Make sure that everyone’s on the same page when it comes to being smart with social media when you’re on vacation. Ask your teenagers to wait to post pictures and so on until you’ve returned from vacation and make sure they understand the importance of not posting details about your family’s travel plans online. Teenagers often seem glued to their phones, so make sure that they’re aware of what not to post while on vacation.

Don't post about your travel plans on social media.

Vacation is meant to be a relaxing, stress-free time for you and your family or friends. Be social media savvy this summer and don’t give away your whereabouts, as cool or envy-inducing those whereabouts might be. Traveling is great and of course, you want to capture the memories with photos. Just be careful on social media and don’t broadcast your location to everyone. Focus on being in the moment instead of flooding the Internet with pictures and posts about your vacation.

Want to save money on home insurance? We would be happy to help you shop your rates and get multiple quotes for your Atlanta homeowners insurance. All you have to do to get in touch with our insurance experts is fill out our online form or give us a call today.