Protecting Your Home When You’re On Vacation

Going on a holiday should be about relaxation. Having said this, there are so many things that might worry you while you’re away! Did you lock all the doors? Did you appoint someone to check on the house from time to time?

If you’re going away this season, follow these simple tips to protect your home.

Cover the basics
Just over a third of burglars gain access to homes simply by walking in through the front door. Before you go away, make sure all your doors and windows are locked. Use deadbolts as well, just to be extra safe.

For doors and windows that slide open, an effective measure is placing a wooden or metal rod in the slide track to prevent potential thieves from prying it open.

Quite often, vacation goers will leave items like ladders or tools on their property in plain sight. These can be assets to burglars who are trying to break into your home, and should thus be stored away safely.

Additionally, a safety deposit box is a great idea for storing precious jewelry or important documents.

Solicit the help of family, friends and neighbours

It never hurts to have someone you trust keep a watchful eye on your property while you are on vacation. Picking up mail, shoveling the driveway and other simple tasks gives the impression that the home is inhabited.

Technology Helps

Set up security cameras outside your house, and program lights, stereos and TVs to turn on automatically at certain times so that it looks like someone is home. An alarm system is also an incredibly helpful security measure whether you travel or not. Did you know that 78% of burglars admitted that an alarm system dissuaded them from burglarizing homes?

Use Social Media To Your Advantage

Social media allows people to “check in” at certain geographical locations. While this is a fun practice that would never have been possible years ago, it can also tip off potential criminals, letting them know exactly when and how long you will be away. Almost 80% of ex-robbers credit social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with providing information that helped them to plan their crimes.

Don’t Let Your Pipes Freeze

Before you go away, be sure to shut your water off completely and flush toilets to drain excess water. This is an effective way to prevent pipes from freezing or flooding.

Touch Base With Your Insurance Company Just To Be Safe

Call your insurance broker and let them know that you are going away. They will let you know your options as far as travel insurance and also what your home policy covers. Planning a trip soon? Contact a Regal Insurance Broker now.

Tips For Winterizing Your Home

Winterizing your home is an important practice. It can help prevent injuries to yourself or others that could have serious medical or financial repercussions. Giving proper attention to your gutters, furnace, driveway and landscaping will keep you and your family safe this season. The tips below will ensure a happy winter.

Get the Fireplace Ready

Has it been a while since your chimney was properly cleaned? If so call a chimney sweep to remove accumulations of soot and creosote. You may also want to put a cap on the top to keep out birds, pests and rodents. All firewood should be stored in a dry place away from the exterior of your home. Make sure the damper opens and closes properly, and inspect mortar between bricks and tuckpoint.

Inspect Your Furnace

At this time of year, a qualified HVAC professional should inspect your furnace and clean the ducts. You will want to buy plenty of furnace filters and change them regularly. Is your thermostat programmable? If not you’ll want one that is. It could cut your energy bill and allow you to feel even more comfort in your own home. If you live in a home with a hot-water radiator, make sure to bleed the valves. You can do this by opening them a touch, and then closing them as soon as water appears.

Exterior Doors And Windows

If you notice any cracks or crevices in the outside of your home, be sure to seal them as soon as possible. Weatherstripping your doors can be a great way of preventing cold air from coming in. Inspect your windows for any cracks in the glass. If windows need to be replaced entirely, use primer and a fresh coat of paint on the wood surrounding them. Window wells for any basement windows should be covered with a plastic shield. Installing storm windows is a great precaution. Short of that, be sure to remove all summer screens and replace them with glass covers.

Roof Gutters And Downspots

If weather in your city or town falls below zero degrees Celsius you might want to consider adding extra insulation in the attic. The benefit? Warm air will have a difficult time creeping up to your roof and causing ice dams. Speaking of your roof, it would be a good idea to check it for worn out tiles or shingles. Make sure to clean the gutters and clear away debris with a hose. Adding leaf guards to your gutters to direct water away from your home is a great practice as well.

Check Foundations

All debris and vegetation should be raked away from the foundation of your home. Cracks and entry points should be sealed up to prevent small animals from crawling inside. It is worth knowing that mice can slip into spaces even as thin as a dime. Crawlspace entrances should be secured, and still plates should be inspected for both pest infestation and dry rot.

Prevent Plumbing Freezes

You should know where your water main is so that you can shut it off in case of emergency. Drain your garden hoses, and insulate all exposed plumbing. If your AC has a valve to shut off water, turn it off and also drain air conditioner pipes. When on vacation, leave the heat on and set it to 12 degrees at a minimum.

Install Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detectors

This is important for fire and poison prevention. Smoke detector batteries should be charged when daylight saving time ends. Carbon monoxide detectors should be installed near water heaters and furnaces. Test them and make sure they are working properly. Do you have a fire extinguisher? If so, get one and replace it every ten years.

The Growing Risk Of Cyber Crime

First reported in September 2017, consumer credit reporting agency Equifax was hit with a data breach that affected millions of consumers. Considered one of the largest data breaches in recent history, the following statistics have been reported so far:

o 145 million Social Security numbers exposed
o 99 million addresses exposed
o 27 million had gender information exposed
o 20 million phone numbers exposed
o 17 million driver’s licenses exposed
o Almost 2 million e-mail addresses exposed
o 200,000 credit card numbers exposed
o 97,000 Tax ID numbers exposed
o 27,000 driver’s licenses exposed

As one might easily infer, the scope of claims in a breach like this can be catastrophic. With access to 200,000 credit cards, potentially billions of dollars could have easily been stolen in one day. Without proper cyber insurance, the burden of financial reimbursement would have fallen exclusively on Equifax.

A similar event occurred in May of 2017 with the Wannacry ransomware cryptoworm that targeted companies running the Microsoft Windows Operating system, and held their information hostage in exchange for bitcoin currency payments. The attack affected over 200,000 computers across 150 countries with damages estimated in the hundreds of millions to billions of dollars. It was confirmed by the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia that North Korea was behind the attack. Each of the events described above have major implication for cyber insurance rates, which may be the last line of defense for businesses against such breaches.

In times when cyber breaches can be sudden and catastrophic, insurance carriers will be called on to respond in order to restore peace of mind to an understandably fearful consumer base. Coverage limits and premiums will likely need to increase so that risks may be adequately addressed. If insurers are able to adjust their practices to accommodate the new climate, they stand to flourish in a business sense and do a great good by protecting society. With major attacks like these occurring multiple times within the span of a year, consumers have become far more reticent to conduct business online where their personal and financial information is ever susceptible to threat.

Do you operate a business that holds sensitive client information on record? Would a cyber attack severely compromise your operation and leave you legally liable in the case of a lawsuit?

Speak to a cyber insurance expert at Regal today, and make sure you are always protected.

The Impact Of The Internet Of Things (IoT) On Insurance

IoT refers to devices that are linked to the internet, and also have the capability to analyze, gather and store data. Smartphones, apps with GPS capabilities, and new home security systems fall under this category and have great implications for the always changing insurance industry.

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