Six Ways to Avoid a Holiday Decor Disaster In Your Home in Lakewood, WA

Six Ways to Avoid a Holiday Decor Disaster In Your Home

Six Ways to Avoid a Holiday Decor Disaster In Your Home in Lakewood, WAThe holiday season is here! No matter how you celebrate, you have likely added some holiday décor to your home. Lights, candles and festive plants add a wonderful, warm ambiance to areas of your home but take some extra steps to ensure that your décor pieces don’t wreak havoc on your holiday.

  • Watch for dry needles. Whether it’s your Christmas tree, wreath or garland, chances are they may dry out. If you find that pine needles are falling, clean them up immediately. Dry pine needles increase your risk for a fire hazard. If you find your tree, wreath or garland is extremely dry & it’s decorated with lights dry, toss it – nothing is worth the risk of a fire.
  • Prevent your chance of fires. Christmas lights are bright and festive, but they could put you at the biggest risk for a fire. Check for any wear on the strings, cracked bulbs or any other signs of damage. Don’t try to repair them, instead replace them. LED lights emit less heat, so if you need to make the switch, choose LED lights that have been safety tested. You can read on the box if they have been inspected by looking for an UL logo.
  • Centerpiece Candles! Yes, we all know we should watch our candles. Ensure all candles are kept in a non-flammable holder. However, it’s important to keep a close eye on your centerpiece decoration if you plan to light the candles during your holiday dinner. If the candles burn too long, the centerpiece can catch fire. Even consider battery powered flameless candles. You have to look close to tell they’re not real!
  • Choose a safe spot for your tree. Keep your holiday tree away from your fireplace, radiators, space heaters or any other area in your home where it could catch on fire. It should be at least 3 feet away from any heat source.
  • Be festive, yet smart with your holiday lights. Whether your house looks like the Griswold’s or you just like to put up a single string of lights, your energy bill will increase during the holiday season. To avoid an extremely high electric bill, choose a window of time when your holiday lights will be turned on. For example, from 5:00 PM to 10:00 PM. Avoid leaving your lights on all night.
  • Place your holiday plants in a safe place. Choose areas away from young children and pets. Do not leave plants on the floor or a place where a child could easily reach for it.

By taking a few extra steps like unplugging your holiday lights before you go to bed or when you leave the house, can help you avoid a decor disaster this holiday season. Insurance Unlimited can assist you with any questions you may have, like “Does my homeowner’ insurance cover accidental fires?” Our expert agents can walk you through your policy and even add additional coverage like personal umbrella insurance should you want extra protection beyond your homeowner’s insurance. Contact us today.

Umbrella Insurance Policy in Lakewood, WA

Should I Have an Umbrella Insurance Policy?

Umbrella Insurance Policy in Lakewood, WAAnyone who wishes to protect themselves from major claims or lawsuits, or would like to protect their assets or earnings would benefit from an umbrella insurance policy. Insuring your future is what an umbrella insurance policy can help with by safeguarding your future earnings, your home or cash savings.

When Would I Use My Umbrella Insurance Policy?

A personal umbrella insurance policy covers you when your auto, home or other personal lines insurance policy is exhausted by a covered insurance claim.

Example: You get into a car accident where you are at fault. Your insurance policy covers you for $250,000 in 3rd party damages. However, the other individuals in the car accident needed medical attention & their car was totaled. The total damages for the other party cost $350,000.

You are responsible for the remaining $100,000. If you have an umbrella insurance policy, it would then kick in to cover this excess liability. If you don’t have an umbrella policy, would you be able to foot the bill? If you cannot pay for the remaining balance, a court may issue your future wages to be garnished.

Similarly, homeowners need to protect themselves from a liability claim. Whether you’re hosting a party and serve too much alcohol, have a slip and fall accident on your sidewalk or your dog bites a neighbor, you can be held liable for medical bills, rehabilitation programs and lost wages.

How are you covered?

By purchasing an umbrella policy, you can be covered for the following items:

  • Bodily injury: Medical bills and settlement for injuries sustained to the third party.
  • Property damage: Damages sustained to the property of a third-party.
  • Other damage: Libel & slander, other claims expenses.
  • Legal fees: Hiring an attorney can be expensive. An umbrella insurance policy helps cover the cost.

There are countless situations that can occur and exhaust your current liability limits on your home or auto insurance policy. Good news: umbrella insurance policies are relatively inexpensive, typically starting around $155 per year. Contact an agent at our office for your personalized umbrella insurance quote today. We can help you determine how much coverage you need.

How to lower your risk of a liability claim when hosting a holiday party in Lakewood, WA

Hosting a holiday party? 3 Things to Keep in Mind.

How to lower your risk of a liability claim when hosting a holiday party in Lakewood, WAThere are many factors that go into hosting a great holiday party. Whether it’s prepping your family’s homemade, traditional recipes, cleaning your home for guests or decorating for the perfect holiday festivity, hosting a party is a lot of work! At the same time, it can be fun & your guests may look forward to your party for weeks. While we wish parties could be all fun and games, there are some risks you should be aware of.

Alcohol

We all know and understand the risks of drinking too much alcohol. However, when you are the host of a party and serving alcohol, you could be liable if someone leaves your home after drinking too much and gets into a car accident. As a host, be aware of how much your guests are drinking and ensure they have a safe ride home. Even if that means calling a taxi or Uber for them.

Tripping Hazards

There are many ways a guest could trip and fall inside or outside your home. You can be liable and a home insurance claim may need to be placed if a guest is injured on your property. Here are a few things to consider to avoid a tripping hazard.

  • Have a clear walkway path from your driveway to front door. Ensure there are no extension cords, cracks in the sidewalk or an icy path where your guest could fall.
  • Clear toys, decorations or other objects from the hallways or stair case in your home.
  • Ensure your rugs aren’t bunched where a guest could trip.

Distracted Cooking

Did you know cooking is the number #1 reason for home fires? It’s easy to get distracted when you’re hosting a party and trying to cook your meal at the same time. However, don’t allow yourself to multi-task or leave the kitchen while heating elements are running.  Other things to consider:

  • Know where your fire extinguisher is located in your home.
  • If a grease or oven caught fire, would you know what to do? For a grease fire, don’t throw water on it, but instead, smother it. For an oven fire, keep the door closed and turn off the oven.
  • If you like to deep fry turkeys, keep it at least 10 feet away from your home.

Holiday parties give lasting memories for not only the host, but the guests as well. However, being prepared is crucial to protect yourself from liability. For questions about your home or liability insurance, contact our agency!

Fall Home Maintenance Checklist for your Lakewood, WA home

Five Things To Do For Fall Maintenance For Your Home

Fall Home Maintenance Checklist for your Lakewood, WA homeWith winter season approaching, now is the time to do a few simple tasks around your home. Not only can this prevent damage from occurring, but it can help keep your home exterior clean. Instead of giving you a long laundry list of things to check off, we go over the five most important.

Is My Home Safe?

This is simple question to ask yourself every spring and fall.

  • Do you have one smoke detector on each floor of your home? Do I need to change the batteries?
  • Do I own a fire extinguisher? If so, is it up to date?
  • Where is my first aid/at home emergency kit? Do I need to make any changes?
  • Can our family be okay if there is a major event like an earthquake, flood, tornado or other natural disaster?

Am I Protecting My Home From Water Damage?

Water damage can be a root cause of home problems. Sometimes they can be covered by your home insurance, but other times they are not. Regardless if they are covered, they are a terrible to deal with. Here are a few areas to check to lower your risk of water damage in your home.

  • Check your gutters & downspouts

Once most of your leaves have fallen from your trees, simply look for debris that could be collecting in your gutters. If you see leaves collecting, remove them in order to prevent clogged gutters. If your gutters are clogged during a rainstorm, it could cause damage to your roof or siding. Also, check if your gutters are damaged & are still attached to your home. Lastly, check your downspouts. Ensure they are draining properly instead of being clogged and pooling water near your home.

  • Check your roof

Loose or missing shingles on your roof can increase your risk for water damage. Make sure your shingles are in good condition before that winter storm hits. If you have a home with a flat roof, ensure it doesn’t have any buildup of leaves. When in doubt, refer out. If you aren’t sure what to look for, ask a professional.

  • Are exposed pipes still insulated?

Check the exposed pipes around your home to ensure the insulation isn’t ripped or torn. Uninsulated garages are very important to check. Many people assume it is “inside” but uninsulated garages can get as cold as the outdoor temperatures. Check there for pipes that need to be insulated.

Is Air Escaping My Home?

Check door and window seals for signs of deterioration. Use weather stripping or caulking around windows and doors to help keep warm air in and cold air out. You’ll also lower your energy bill. On another note, if air can get into your home, water can too.

Did I Replace My Furnace Filter?

To keep your furnace running efficiently, you need to replace the filter often. Some filters may need to be changed every month.

Are Rodents Nesting In My Home?

Rodents tend to nest in your crawlspace, attic and even in your walls. Walk the perimeter of your home & any access points in your garage to make sure you do not have any cracks or holes for rodents to enter. Also, check your vents along your foundation for holes or deterioration. As the weather gets colder, rodents are always looking for a warmer place to live.

Also, remember rodents love a food source. If you are storing food or bird seed in your garage, make sure it’s properly stored in a sealed container.

While preventative maintenance can get easily get pushed on the back burner when life gets busy, it’s still important to make the time to do it.

If you have questions about your home or condo insurance, call Insurance Unlimited. We live where you do and are an independent insurance agent, so we can help you find the right company to fit your needs. You can also check out our website, 24/7.

Uninsured motorist coverage in Lakewood, WA

I Got Hit By Someone Who Doesn’t Have Insurance – Now What?

Uninsured motorist coverage in Lakewood, WAAccording to a recent study by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, approximately one out of every 8 drivers in the United States are uninsured. That’s a staggering figure when you think about your chances of being struck by one.  So, what can you do to protect yourself from an uninsured driver?

The good news is there is a line of insurance coverage specifically for uninsured motorists, called (you guessed it) Uninsured Motorist Property Damage & Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury coverage. This is an optional coverage that is available to most drivers. Let’s take a closer look at these coverages and see how they work.

Uninsured Motorist Property Damage

Uninsured Motorist Property Damage (commonly referred to as UMPD) pays for losses incurred to your vehicle when it is hit by an uninsured motorist. This coverage may also pay for damages associated with a hit and run driver.

Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury

Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury (commonly referred to as UMBI or UM) pays for your medical expenses when involved in an accident with an uninsured driver. UMBI may also cover your passengers who are in your vehicle during a covered loss.

Underinsured Motorist (UIM)

Underinsured Motorist Coverage pays for injuries such as medical expenses, lost wages and settlements from a driver who is at-fault and does not carry enough insurance to cover your losses.

You should also carefully deliberate the amount of insurance coverage that you need. Available options, limits and coverages vary by state. Each state has different requirements and laws when it comes to uninsured motorist insurance. Be sure to ask an agent in our office about these coverages if you’d like them. Contact us!

Prevent Rodents and Rodent Damage in Lakewood, WA

A Rodent Made a Nest In My Car and Caused Damage – Is it Covered?

Prevent Rodents and Rodent Damage in Lakewood, WAAs cooler weather approaches at night or you park your car outside during the winter months, chances are that sooner or later a rodent will find its way inside of your warm vehicle. Rodents like rats, mice and even squirrels can make their way up inside of your engine compartment to stay warm. After all, it is toasty and warm inside there and you left the vehicle in the driveway overnight.

Rodents can do major damage to vehicles. In fact, some of the more common reported damages include chewed wiring, chewed up upholstery (used to make nests) and rodent feces.

If your vehicle is damaged by a rodent you’ll want to review your insurance policy to see if there is a “rodent clause.” Comprehensive insurance coverage is your best bet for getting rodent damages covered, however, some insurance companies define animal damages in comprehensive coverage as “collision with an animal” and have a specific clause that excludes rodent damages such as chewed wiring etc. The best course of action is to ask your insurance agent when you purchase your policy, or if you already have a policy in place to ask them about it. If dealing with rodents is something you think you may have to deal with, selecting the appropriate company as well as the appropriate coverage can make all the difference.

If you have questions about your auto insurance or want a quote, contact Insurance Unlimited. We live where you do and are an independent insurance agent, so we can help you find the right company to fit your needs. You can also check out our website, 24/7.

Flood Insurance in Lakewood, WA

Are You Prepared For a Disaster?

September Represents National Preparedness Month

Flood Insurance in Lakewood, WAAre you prepared for a disaster? Recent articles online, in the newspaper and commercials on televisions remind us that disasters are just a moment away. It is easy to think that’s a good reminder, yet fail to act on our preparedness. The fact is: disasters happen. It’s best to learn the skills & be prepared.

Ready.gov does a great job at summarizing how to prepare for disasters and teaches simple skills you should have that could help you or your loved ones if a disaster strikes.

What’s Your Plan?

Discuss the following questions with your friends, family or household to determine your emergency plan.

  1. How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings?
  2. What is my shelter plan?
  3. What is my evacuation route?
  4. What is my family/household communication plan?

After determining your plan, practice it!

What Life Saving Skills Do You Have?

There are a wide variety of skills you should have that can save a life. Here are a few to target.

  • Learn first aid & CPR.
  • Own a fire extinguisher, know where it’s located & most importantly, understand how to use it.
  • Know how to shut off your water, electricity & natural gas.

Do You Understand Your Insurance Coverage?

Yes, having insurance is your first step to protection, but do you know exactly what you are covered for? Did you know flood damage to a home is the most common disaster a household can face? If your home floods, are you covered? If you do not understand the details of your insurance coverage, call our office!

Are You Saving For an Emergency?

We all know the concept of saving for a rainy day, but the question is, are you doing it?

  • Have a savings account and contribute to it monthly if possible.
  • Consider owning a safe in your home & keeping cash in it. During a disaster, ATM’s or credit cards may not work.
  • Store all important personal, household & medical information in your safe (or a place you’ll remember).

Examples:

  • passport or photo ID
  • birth certificate
  • social security cards,
  • marriage or divorce license
  • military ID & military discharge record
  • pet ID tags
  • pet microchip info & proof of pet ownership
  • insurance policies
  • lease or rental agreement
  • mortgage or real estate deeds of trust
  • immunization records
  • medication list or other medical information a physician may need

If you want a detailed document of everything you would need to prepare for a disaster or emergency, print this form out & follow the checklist.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Learn the skills & know what to do before a disaster strikes.

If you have questions about your insurance coverage or want a quote for flood insurance, contact Insurance Unlimited. Our agents will shop to find the best insurance for your specific needs.

How to prevent mail theft in Lakewood, WA

How to Avoid Being a Victim of Mail Theft

How to prevent mail theft in Lakewood, WAMail theft is an unfortunate reality in most of the country. Thieves drive around during the mid-day and night time looking for mail that has not yet been picked up. What are they looking for? Gift cards, credit card applications, and utility bills – pretty much anything that would allow them to steal your identity.

Take these steps to avoid being the victim of mail theft:

  1. Get a locking mailbox

This is one of the easiest steps you can take and also the most effective. While the cost of a locking mailbox varies (usually starting around $80) it can be enough of a deterrent to stop theft. If you live in a community with other neighbors, consider getting together with other neighbors and purchasing a community box. If a neighbor is handy, they can easily install the mailbox. One quick tip, be sure to check for postal service approved mailboxes. It usually requires some minor paperwork.

  1. Pick up mail frequently

Make it a habit to routinely pick up the mail as close to delivery time as possible. Most of us work throughout the day, so grab it on the way in from work. Do your best to not leave mail in the box until the next day.

  1. Avoid using the red flag

If there is one “red flag” (pun) for thieves, it is using your outgoing mailbox’s red flag. Simply waiting until the time the mailman is coming or even better, bringing your outgoing mail to work (with your postage paid already of course). This will ensure a secured delivery.

  1. Have a neighbor help you out from time-to-time

Do you know you have something valuable coming in the mail? Perhaps it is your birthday or around the holidays. Ask a neighbor to pick up your mail for you. Since the USPS is now delivering for Amazon on Sundays, if you have a small package coming, be sure to check your mailbox on Sundays for special deliveries.

Do you have other ideas about how mail theft could be avoided? Feel free to share your thoughts on our Facebook page!

For answers to your insurance questions, contact Insurance Unlimited. We represent the top insurance carriers for home or renters insurance and can find the best coverage for your needs today.

Insurance options for your college student in Lakewood, WA

Insurance Options For Your Child Before They Leave for College

Insurance options for your college student in Lakewood, WAAttending college is an exciting time for your child. Whether it’s deciding where to go, what to major in or figuring the finances, there are a lot of decisions to think about. Before your child leaves the nest, here are three things to consider when it comes to having the right insurance policy.

1.) Auto Insurance Policy

  • If they are taking their car to college, be sure to update their auto insurance policy. This can easily be taken care of by reaching out to your insurance agent! You’ll want to ensure your child is protected if they get into an accident or experience theft. If your child is attending college out of state, talk with us to see if anything changes on their auto insurance policy.
  • Not taking a car? We suggest still keeping them on your auto insurance policy if they plan to drive when they return home for a visit or in the event they need to borrow a friend’s car on campus.
  • Ask for discounts. See if your child qualifies for any additional discounts.
    • Discounts may include:
      • Good student discount
      • Distant-student discount.
      • Pay in full discount
      • Safe driver discount
      • Data tracking discount

2.) Educate On Liability

College is an amazing social and learning experience. Be sure your child understands the serious consequences of drinking and driving, buying alcohol for kids underage or the other risks that are associated with drugs and alcohol. One poor decision could impact the rest of their life.

3.) If worried about theft while living off-campus, invest in a renters insurance policy.

  • If your child owns valuable items like laptops, televisions, printers, cameras or other expensive items, invest in a renters insurance policy.
  • Construct a full inventory of your child’s items that include model and serial numbers.
  • If your child is living with roommates, remember each child needs their own policy.
  • A renters insurance policy offers more than just covering your property. It can provide important liability coverage.

If my child experiences theft, will I be fully reimbursed?

This is where actual cash value and replacement insurance coverage comes into play. Replacement cost is very simple: It is literally the cost to replace your item with an item of similar quality. Replacement cost policies tend to be a bit more expensive since you are essential getting a brand new item for one that may have otherwise depreciated. Actual cash value is the cost to replace the item minus any depreciation. So, if your child had wear and tear on an expensive electronic device, your insurance would pay out the cost of the electronic minus the depreciation. Talk to your agent for clarification.

Whether it’s changing your child’s auto insurance or investing in renters insurance, let our local experts at Insurance Unlimited help you find the best insurance to fit your needs. For more information about Insurance Unlimited, visit our website or get a quote online.

How to throw a great BBQ party in Lakewood, WA

How to Throw a Great BBQ Party

How to throw a great BBQ party in Lakewood, WASummertime is one of the most popular seasons to BBQ with friends and family. Whether it’s grilling at your local park or in your backyard, gathering with friends and family on a sunny day always is a memorable event. What makes a BBQ party great? We give simple suggestions of how to create a party you and your guests will remember!

Create a Signature Drink 

  • Whether a great cocktail for the adults or fresh squeezed lemonade for kids, creating a signature drink for your BBQ party adds fun to the environment. Making one signature cocktail is much less work than playing bartender throughout the entire day. Think: sangria, mimosas, margaritas or Moscow mules. Many times you can make big pitchers to lessen the work load.

Prep in Pieces 

  • Instead of trying to do it all in one day, strategically plan to prep in pieces. Have one day where you just go to the grocery store. The next day, chop and prep your produce or make a side dish that can sit in the refrigerator overnight. On the day of your BBQ, setup your table or decorations.

Simple Entertainment 

  • One of the most simple forms of entertainment at a party is good music. Pick out a playlist or stream Pandora through your outdoor or bluetooth speaker. If you want to provide more entertainment, create an outdoor game competition like ladder golf, bocci ball, volleyball or corn hole. Squirt guns, a football/soccer ball or arts & crafts are easy to keep kids busy for hours.

Pick a Theme 

  • Theme parties can be even more memorable! Plus, you can match your food to your theme. If you don’t want to cook all of the food yourself and prefer a potluck style, give suggestions to your guests so they know exactly what to bring to fit your theme.

Buy Plastic Containers 

  • Obviously BBQs with plastic silverware and plates work great for easy cleanup but what about providing plastic take away containers for your guests? Especially if you have a lot of food leftover, plastic containers are a great way to share your food for another day. This also saves space in your own refrigerator! Ask your guests, “what food can I send you home with?”

While throwing a great BBQ party can make for great memories for you and your guests, being properly insured for any unexpected liabilities is also important. The good news is that umbrella insurance policies are relatively inexpensive. Contact an agent at our office for your personalized umbrella insurance quote today.