October News You Can Use

Simple Maintenance Can Prevent Water Damage Claims

According to one large insurance carrier, water damage is a much more likely cause of homeowner claims than fires. Excluding claims for catastrophes, such as hurricanes, American homes are 10 times more likely to suffer from water damage than from fires.

Note that property maintenance is important in the event of a claim. In fact, you may not be covered for water damage that occurs over time due to inadequate maintenance. However, with good preventive maintenance you can easily eliminate such claims; below are several tips to help you reduce the risk of water damage:

  • Keep your roof in excellent repair. Regularly clean gutters and replace any cracked or missing shingles. Watch for ceiling stains and make immediate repairs if you notice water seepage or a damp ceiling.
  • Check washing machine hoses annually and replace them every five years.
  • Check hot water heater connections and perform regular maintenance on your hot water heater. It should be drained annually, but if you do it yourself, be careful because the water could scald you. If you do not know how to drain the heater correctly, hire a professional.
  • Run your washing machine and dishwasher only when you can stay home for the entire wash cycle. This simple tip can prevent you from returning home to a flood.
  • Check icemaker connections annually. Moving the refrigerator for cleaning may crimp the hose. Each time you move your refrigerator, check to make sure your icemaker line is intact.
  • Inspect your air conditioner drain lines annually for clogs or cracking.
  • Remove and replace deteriorating caulking around your tub and sinks.

Although water damage is one of the most frequent causes of claims, by taking time each year to maintain your home and appliances, you can dramatically reduce your chances of a being a water-damage statistic.

The Human Voice Wields Power: Even Today

The kids at camp who called their mothers nightly may have known more than their fellow campers thought. The human voice, like human touch, can act as a calming agent.

A 2011 University of Wisconsin study tested girls ages 7 to 12 who were given public-speaking assignments. Those who spoke to their mothers by phone or in person before the event had lower stress hormones than those who received email or texts or had no communication with their mothers at all.

In today’s hyper-communicating society, giving the human voice its due may seem counter intuitive. But though the keypad may be mighty, it’s also a weak substitute for the voice.

Why? The study suggests that texting removes the elements of pacing, tone and volume from communication. Emoticons are a poor substitute for the verbal cues that give words a meaning beyond the words themselves.

Unfortunately, many people spend the majority of their days communicating by computers and phones with little human interaction. Corporations have bought into the idea that regular tweets and status updates will build a support base among customers.

They may be rethinking that approach. According to a study out of the University of Missouri, adding a human voice element to an organization’s website can increase consumer satisfaction, building trust and commitment. As a result, many forward-looking companies are combining their online presence with a vocal presence.

Good to know the human voice is still in business.

Are Words Losing Their Magic?

The most powerful ideas in human history have one thing in common – they’re all based on words. From religious doctrines to political constitutions to famous speeches that have broken down walls and created worlds, words have a long history of forging futures.

So, what is it about words that give them the ability to shape perspectives?

Rooted in oral tradition, words have always communicated importance. From oral traditions to the written word, words were luxuries available only to the elite. That is, until the printing press made it possible for them to be distributed almost as soon as they were written.

Today, words are shared as they’re conceived, and technology has made it possible to fire these “thought-rockets” around the world at devastating speeds.

That same technology has quickened the pace of the world. We do more, say more, share more – but does that mean we’re thinking more?

Among social media, digital media and broadcast media, words are hurled randomly into cyberspace with meanings twisted and distorted. Indeed, we’re littered with words, but how many of them actually matter?

Ironically, even though we’re exposed to more words today than ever before, fewer move us as did the words and works of the great orators of the past. Are words losing their magic?

Don’t Let Fido Cost You Your Homeowners Policy

Dog bite claims have reached record levels, costing the U.S. insurance industry $479 million in 2011. Sadly, the majority of bites will be from the family dog or one belonging to a friend or neighbor.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that insurance carriers are cautious. Increasingly many insurance companies refuse to insure homeowners who own certain breeds, including Rottweiler’s, Pit Bulls, Chow Chows, and German Shepherds.

Although dog lovers lobby on behalf of these breeds, insurance underwriters may still refuse to write homeowner’s policies for owners whose pets are “blacklisted”. So, what’s a dog lover to do?

This solution may help your insurance carrier provide you with homeowner’s coverage, pooch and all. The American Kennel Club sponsors a “Canine Good Citizen” designation, and local trainers throughout the U.S. offer classes to train your dog for the designation. The Canine Good Citizen dog must pass 10 temperament tests: He or she should allow a stranger to approach; demonstrate a lack of aggression to other dogs (very important since many people get bitten when their dogs tangle with others); and feel confident in a crowd.

For dogs who are already trained, evaluators are available throughout the U.S. to certify Fido as a good citizen. Some carriers don’t accept the designation, although a bite-free history may help, but generally having a Canine Good Citizen will assist you in obtaining or keeping your homeowner’s insurance.

If you love your dog (and who doesn’t?), the cost associated with training and evaluation is a small price to pay.