How to deal with a fallen tree in Lakewood, WA

Who is responsible if your tree falls onto your neighbor’s house?

How To Deal With a Fallen Tree

How to deal with a fallen tree in Lakewood, WANeighbors are great! You can count on them to keep an eye on your place while you’re away, let out a furry friend or even borrow some last minute ingredients! Shoot, some of your neighbors are probably some of your closest friends. But having neighbors can sometimes cause some uncomfortable exchanges.

With spring on the way, often high winds occur when the cold air and warmer air mix together. This, mixed with sometimes wet soil can bring a vulnerable tree toppling down. So, what happens when YOUR tree drops down onto your neighbor’s house, car, fence or other property? Who is liable for that and which insurance company should you call?

Well, the answer is most of the time quite simple. Whoever owns the damaged property is responsible to get the damage repaired – not the owner of the tree.

Let’s look at some specific examples:

Your tree falls onto your neighbor’s house:  Neighbor responsible to mitigate damages and call their own insurance company.

Your neighbor’s tree falls on your car: You should call your insurance company.

Now, proving any sort of negligence on the part of the tree owner is exceedingly rare. Trees die but can remain strong and standing for many years. If you or your neighbor has a tree that has died and you’re worried about it, you should call out an arborist. If the tree is the neighbors, have a conversation about the risks it poses and potential harm it could cause if it fell. Perhaps this will remedy the problem.

If you have questions about your home, auto or commercial insurance, call the insurance agents at Insurance Unlimited, Inc. in Lakewood, WA. They have years of insurance experience and can help you insure everything from your home to your auto or commercial Insurance. They live where you do and are an independent insurance agent, so they can help you find the right company to fit your needs. You can also check out their website, 24/7.

Power Outage in Lakewood, WA

Be Prepared for an Unexpected Power Outage

What To Do If Your Power Goes Out

Power Outage in Lakewood, WAWhen nasty weather hits it can be easy to say, “it won’t affect me, our power never goes out!” But, being prepared in the event that you do lose power will save you a lot of nervousness and more.

There are many things to consider when putting together an “out of power” kit. Simple things like blankets can be pulled off of beds, so consider other things like non-perishable foods, ways to light the house and core means to communicate.

Here is a list of items to consider for your powers out safety kit:

  • Non-perishable food such as canned goods, crackers, noodles or vacuum packed tuna
  • Water – make sure you have enough. Water goes fast when you use it for everything from brushing your teeth to other hygiene as well as drinking and cooking.
  • LED flashlights. LED because they last about 5x as long on batteries.
  • Emergency Radio or solar cell phone charger.
  • Candles – Emergency candles can last 7 days burning 24 hours a day! Make sure you get the right ones. Many are also wind resistant.

There are many things to consider for your different types of emergency kits, but fortunately you’re at home! Some things to consider when the power is out at home:

  • Unplug some of your more sensitive electronics. Electronics can become damaged when the power comes back on with the power surge.
  • Keep your refrigerator and freezer closed as much as possible. If the power is going to be out for a while, it can help deter spoilage. If possible, remove more temperature sensitive items like meat and dairy to a smaller cooler and fill with ice on the top.
  • If you suspect your food has spoiled, don’t risk it.

Generators are a great tool for when the power goes out, but they’re typically limited unless you have a whole house generator. If you’re going to use a generator, be sure to determine what appliances you want to run. Refrigerators require a large generator, so determine if it is even possible to run it. Using a generator to run lighting and small portable coolers is reasonable.

When the power goes out, be prepared.

If you have questions about your home, auto or commercial insurance, call the insurance agents at Insurance Unlimited, Inc. in Lakewood, WA. They have years of insurance experience and can help you insure everything from your home to your auto or commercial Insurance. They live where you do and are an independent insurance agent, so they can help you find the right company to fit your needs. You can also check out their website, 24/7.

 

How to Drive in the Snow and Ice in Lakewood, WA

The Best Strategies to Drive Safe in the Snow & On Ice

Winter Weather Driving Tips

How to Drive in the Snow and Ice in Lakewood, WAIt’s important for every driver to know how to drive in winter weather conditions. It can be challenging to drive in these conditions, but with the knowledge of the information below, you’ll know how to stay safe on the road.

  • Be sure your car has plenty of antifreeze. You do not want to run out while driving in poor weather conditions.
  • Make sure your windshield wipers are in good condition and that your wiper fluid remains full. Dirty roads can cover a windshield with dirt quickly impacting your visibility.
  • Keep control of your vehicle by not using your cruise control settings.
  • Pack the essentials in your car in case you get stuck. A flashlight, roadside visibility reflectors, a snow brush and ice scraper, jumper cables and a bag of sand to help with traction are all key items that can help you deal with winter weather.
  • Always check the road conditions before you leave on your trip. Once you know the weather conditions, be sure to leave earlier so you don’t have to feel rushed. Giving yourself the extra time allows you to drive at an appropriate and safe speed.
  • Brake appropriately on slippery surfaces. If you start to skid, take your foot off the accelerator until you regain traction. Many people want to slam on the brakes when they notice their car starting to skid.
  • Give yourself more distance between the car ahead of you. When the weather conditions are poor, you will need more space between the car ahead of you to stop.
  • Know where to be extra cautious. Bridges, ramps, overpasses and shaded areas are likely to freeze first and can be extra slick.
  • To defrost your car, turn on your front and rear defrosters. Don’t use your windshield wipers. Once your car has warmed up slightly, use your plastic ice scrapers.

Knowledge is the first step to becoming a safe driver. Having the awareness and driving skills can help you stay safe in less than optimal weather conditions.

If you have questions about your home, auto or commercial insurance, call the insurance agents at Insurance Unlimited, Inc. in Lakewood, WA. They have years of insurance experience and can help you insure everything from your home to your auto or commercial Insurance. They live where you do and are an independent insurance agent, so they can help you find the right company to fit your needs. You can also check out their website, 24/7.

 

Home Inventory List in Lakewood, WA

Keep a Home Inventory Checklist Just in Case

Two Ways to Construct a List

Home Inventory List in Lakewood, WAFor most of us, we won’t have to experience a disastrous home loss such as a flood, fire, earthquake or other disaster. That doesn’t mean any of us should be less prepared for such an event should one occur. Preparing a home inventory can be a large task, but taking the time to do so can make a difference of thousands of dollars when it comes to your claims settlement as well as simple ease of processing your claim.

For many of us, where we live symbolizes us and what is in that house symbolizes our lives. Our belongings represent our memories, personal style and even investments that hold significant value such as art.  When you add up how much all of your personal items are worth, it can be a substantial figure into the many 10s of thousands of dollars or more.

Home insurance claims from disasters such as flood or fire are traumatic. A home inventory checklist can help you remember quickly what items you had. Would you recall exactly how many pairs of jeans you had and what brand they were? Would you recall how many pairs of shoes you had or what brands they were? What about art? Could you recall the name of the artist and how much you paid for it?

Taking the time to inventory your home can be useful in the event of theft or damage to the contents of your home. Keep track of your items with this easy to use chart! You can even attach photos of your items and quickly send this chart to your insurance agent to help speed up the claims process. Another way to document is with a thorough video or video series. Be sure to store your home inventory checklist in a safe place like in the cloud.

The good news is your insurance agent likely gave you sufficient coverage for your personal property. If you feel like you need more, be sure to tell your agent. Home, renters and condo insurance policies typically come standard with this coverage.

If you have questions about your home, auto or commercial insurance, call the insurance agents at Insurance Unlimited, Inc. in Lakewood, WA. They have years of insurance experience and can help you insure everything from your home to your auto or commercial Insurance. They live where you do and are an independent insurance agent, so they can help you find the right company to fit your needs. You can also check out their website, 24/7.

 

Flood Insurance in Lakewood, WA

Understanding Flood Insurance and Sewer Backup Coverage

Flood Insurance and Sewer Backup Insurance – Not the same thing.

Flood Insurance and Sewer Backup Coverage in Lakewood, WAFloods are the most devastating natural disaster in the United States each year causing billions in losses and displacing thousands. While flooding is a common concern for those near rivers and streams, all homes in the United States can be caught off-guard by floods. When it comes to flood insurance, it is important to understand what flood insurance is and what is covered. Many people think flood insurance is anything to do with water in their home. This is far from the truth. Floods are defined as surface water that enters your home from the outside – not to be confused with a leaky roof or a broken pipe, loose toilet or other plumbing related issue. Another issue altogether is sewer backup with may or may not be covered depending on what caused it to occur.

Let’s take a closer look at these policies:

Flood Insurance: Flood insurance covers your property and contents from damages that occur when water from outside the home enters the home. Beit a heavy rainstorm, a clogged drain in the street or even a hurricane that causes a tidal surge that backs up streams and rivers.

  • Cost: According to floodsmart.gov, the average flood insurance policy costs around $700 a year. Depending on your area and whether you’re in a flood prone area, your costs can be higher or lower.
  • What’s covered: The typical flood insurance policy will cover your building and the contents. Be sure to discuss contents coverage with your agent to ensure you have enough coverage. The price of the policy will be largely determined by how valuable your items are and how much coverage you need.
  • When to buy: Flood insurance requires a 30 day waiting period. The best time to buy a flood insurance policy is as soon as you decide you want it.

Water & Sewer Backup Coverage: Sewage backup insurance is not included with a standard homeowner’s insurance policy. Sewage backup occurs for many reasons, but ultimately, what is happening is there is a blockage that causes water to reverse course and push up into your sinks, bathtubs or other outlets. This can be a smelly, filthy event and one you want to be sure to discuss with your agent. Believe it or not, this is a somewhat common occurrence.

  • Cost: Cost always varies, but typically a sewer backup endorsement will run you under $100. Be sure to ask your agent about different policy options.
  • What’s covered: You purchase specific amounts of covers, such as $10,000 or $15,000. This helps cover the cost of cleaning the damage caused from the backup as well as replacing carpets, drywall, and even cleaning or replacing ducts.
  • When to buy: Water and sewage backup occurs everywhere. There is no real good indicator or when this event will occur, so protecting early is critical.

We understand insurance is confusing, so if you still have questions, feel free to call one of our licensed agents and ask to speak about flood or sewage backup coverage.

If you have any insurance questions, call the insurance agents at Insurance Unlimited, Inc. in Lakewood, WA. They have years of insurance experience and can help you insure everything from your home to your auto or commercial Insurance. They live where you do and are an independent insurance agent, so they can help you find the right company to fit your needs. You can also check out their website, 24/7.

What to do if a driving emergency occurs in Lakewood, WA

Would You Know What To Do In the Event You Have a Driving Emergency?

Insurance Unlimited discusses the four common driving emergencies and how to work through them.

What to do if a driving emergency occurs in Lakewood, WADriving hazards present themselves daily and can occur year-round in every state. But, would you know what to do in the event a driving hazard presented itself?

Wildlife: Hitting a deer in the roadway can be a traumatic experience, but it could also be deadly. The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture cites as many as 2 million collisions with animals occur each year in the U.S. Prepare by following these steps:

  • Stay alert: if you are driving in rural areas, be aware that wildlife is always nearby and keep a lookout towards the sides of the road.
  • Don’t swerve: Swerving cannot only results in a worse injury and more severe accident, but your insurance company might find you at fault if you swerve to miss a deer and end up hitting a tree or guard rail. Keep your car pointed forward and hit the brakes!
  • Be more aware at night: Animals can become more active in the evenings and some travel in groups. If you see one, chances are there are more nearby. If there are two lanes, drive in the lane farthest away from the side of the road.

Blown Tires: A blown tire can be a startling experience, but knowing what to do in the event you have one can save you from an accident. Keep these things in mind:

  • Don’t slam on the brakes: Slamming on the brakes with a blown tire will only make matters worse because it will cause your vehicle to pull hard in the direction of the flat. Slowly pull to the side of the roadway, as far away from traffic as possible.
  • Work to maintain your steering: If a front tire blows, it can really cause the vehicle to pull. Do your best not to overreact to the sudden jolt and swerve the other way. This could cause your vehicle to lose control.
  • Place your blown tire and wheel under the car slightly when changing your tire: So many injuries occur when a jack is improperly used. Placing your tire under the car can save you from being crushed if a jack fails.

Bugs in the Car: We’ve all experienced the spider in the car!

  • Pull over: While a spider or bee in the vehicle can be alarming, you have to remember – it is probably more afraid of you than you are of it! Carefully pull over to the side of the road and let your unwanted passenger out.
  • Don’t let it take your eyes off the road: It can be tempting to try to swat at the insect or arachnid while driving, but don’t. It will only increase the chances of causing a more serious crash.

Black Ice: It is getting to that time of year when black ice can occur on roadways. If your vehicle begins to slide on ice, it is important to understand what to do:

  • Let off the gas: Many vehicle have stability control and will work to auto-correct the problem. Stop accelerating and let your car recover.
  • Let off the brake: Applying the brakes on ice can unfortunately make matters worse. Never slam the brakes on, but gently apply them.
  • Drive slowly: if you notice the temperature beginning to plunge, drive more slowly. Less accidents occur when drivers keep the speeds under 45 MPH during icy conditions.

While we can’t always be in the car with you to avoid hazards, we can help you with your auto and home insurance questions.

If you have questions about your home, auto or commercial insurance, call the insurance agents at Insurance Unlimited, Inc. in Lakewood, WA. They have years of insurance experience and can help you insure everything from your home to your auto or commercial Insurance. They live where you do and are an independent insurance agent, so they can help you find the right company to fit your needs. You can also check out their website, 24/7.

How to Prepare a Disaster Kit in Lakewood, WA

How to Put Together an At-Home Emergency Kit

Be Prepared with a Custom-Built Supplies Kit.

How to Prepare a Disaster Kit in Lakewood, WAFall is a great time to consider disaster preparedness and to take a look at your family’s emergency kit. While disasters can happen anywhere, whether natural or man-made, it is important that your family be prepared.

For many, the thought of having a disaster preparedness kit in their home seems silly and unnecessary. The fact of the matter is that every state in our country is susceptible to a natural disaster such as an earthquake, tornado or hurricane, flood or even a volcanic eruption. Preparing for one of these events can be quick and inexpensive, but also a great time to educate your family about safety during one of these events.

The basic home preparedness kit, according to ready.gov should include:

  • Water – 1 gallon per person, per day. Minimum 3 day supply.
  • Food – non-perishable food such as canned tuna, canned fruits & vegetables, nuts, dried fruit, low sodium crackers, soups. Also, dry mixes that do not require refrigeration. Store food in tightly closed containers to extend it’s shelf life and protect from pests. Change food & water supplies every six months to keep fresh supplies.
  • Battery powered radio for emergency information
  • Flashlight with extra sets of batteries. (Consider an LED flashlight that requires much less energy to use)
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust masks, plastic sheeting and duct tape to seal off an area from contaminants
  • Moist towelettes for simple hygiene
  • A manual can opener and pocket knife
  • Cell phone w/ solar charger of some sort

Additional items could include prescription medicines, diapers, pet food and blankets. Keep this kit in a designated area where your entire family can easily find it.

If you have questions about your home, auto or commercial insurance, call the insurance agents at Insurance Unlimited, Inc. in Lakewood, WA. They have years of insurance experience and can help you insure everything from your home to your auto or commercial Insurance. They live where you do and are an independent insurance agent, so they can help you find the right company to fit your needs. You can also check out their website, 24/7.

Tornado or Wind Insurance in Lakewood, WA

Tornadoes, Hurricanes and Wind Damage

Does my Insurance Cover this?

Tornado or Wind Insurance in Lakewood, WAEvery state in our country can have a tornado, hurricane or suffer from a severe windstorm, so understanding that your home is protected with the right insurance to cover this type of loss is critical. Browse your policy or call your agent before an event is forecast because once a storm is coming, insurance companies will freeze new coverage from being bound in time for the event.

Your standard homeowners policy likely covers it (except in hurricane prone states like Louisiana, Texas, Florida and Hawaii)

While there are exceptions to every rule, the industry typically covers your home from certain perils such as windstorms, fire and theft. One of the common perils covered is wind damage which will include tornadoes, hurricanes and other high-wind events. So, typically you will be covered from these events, less your deductible, should such an event occur in your state.

What if it isn’t on my standard policy?

If Hurricane Insurance isn’t on your standard insurance policy, there are endorsements and other companies who you can get the coverage from. Same with states that have high likelihood of tornadoes. Be sure to check the fine print!

There is an exception to every rule

The best way to ensure you’re covered is to ask your insurance agent or company directly. There are policies that exist that will exclude this coverage, so be sure to check. Also, be sure that your internal contents are covered (personal property) and not just the home itself. If you own a home in the central part of the US (Tornado Alley) double check for coverage as it is common to have this loss be excluded.

There is always a company willing to give you this coverage

The beauty of shopping with an independent insurance agent is that they offer coverage from multiple insurance companies, not just one, so if one company doesn’t offer it, another one they sell will. Endorsing this coverage is potentially another possibility.

One last thing to note

Often large windstorms will trigger flooding events from either pushing in tides or be accompanied by heavy rains. It is important to understand that these events are not covered by a windstorm, tornado or hurricane coverage. You will need a separate flood insurance policy to cover you from water that damages a home even if the first event was the cause of the rising waters.

With anything insurance, the best answers that can be provided to your specific questions come from your local insurance agent. These agents are able to provide you with a certain, yes or no when it comes to coverage. Because they live where you do, they can help you assess the best coverage for your specific situation.

If you have questions about your home, auto or commercial insurance, call the insurance agents at Insurance Unlimited, Inc. in Lakewood, WA. They have years of insurance experience and can help you insure everything from your home to your auto or commercial Insurance. They live where you do and are an independent insurance agent, so they can help you find the right company to fit your needs. You can also check out their website, 24/7.

 

Winterizing your vehicle Lakewood, WA

Winterizing your vehicle: Where to start

Going outside during the winter months can be a production. You may need gloves, a hat, a heavy coat, boots and maybe more depending on the weather. Your car, the vehicle you rely on to get you to and from home and work, needs some winter prep as well. While you can’t put a coat on your car, you can do some simple winterizing to help ensure that your vehicle will run smoothly and help keep you safe in the cold and inclement weather.

Winterizing your vehicle in Washington:

  • The Basics: There are a few things that your car should have during the winter: an emergency kit that contains: bottled water, energy bars or other non-perishable food, first aid supplies, gloves, a blanket, road flares, a “Help” sign and a flashlight are just a few things that make up a great emergency kit. Should your vehicle stop working and you are stranded, this kit could keep you safe and comfortable.
  • Sight and Traction: It is crucial to be able to see where you are going at all times while on the road. If your line of sight is blocked due to rain, snow or debris, you could be in danger of an accident. Before the weather turns poor, replace your windshield wipers and check to make sure that your defroster is in working order. Snow tires and chains are an option for areas that see snowfall. Plan ahead and make an appointment early to get your snow tires on (once snow tire use is permitted by law) because once the first snow falls, tire centers tend to get much busier.
  • Under the hood: Before your car is truly ready for winter, there are a few more things you should consider. When was the last time you changed your battery? Typically, batteries have a three to five year lifespan, however the winter months can be quite hard on them. The pull of defrosters and heaters may cause an older battery to fail, leaving you stranded. Replacing your battery in the fall before the weather turns is a safe bet. Check all fluids, like oil, anti-freeze/coolant. Anything that is low, should be topped off and/or changed. This is also a great time to do a visual check for leaks. Speaking of topping off, it is best practice to keep a full to mostly full gas tank during the cold months.  Due to the daily temperature fluctuations in the winter time, condensation can form on the inside of a gas tank. If that happens, water can get into the fuel lines, potentially freezing, blocking the line and causing damage.

Help keep yourself and others safe on the road this season by winterizing your vehicle. A few extra tasks could help save you from an accident, auto damage and a costly insurance claim. A change of season is also a great time to look at your insurance coverage. If you need to update or change your auto insurance policy, let the experts at Insurance Unlimited, Inc., in Lakewood, WA know! They can also assist you with other types of coverage like year-round motorcycle insurance and more. Visit their insurance website 24/7 for more information about the insurance products they offer.

Fire safety Lakewood, WA

Summer fire safety tips

At some point this summer, you will most likely use fire for something. Whether it be a camp fire, fireworks or a grill, the potential for both fun and hazards is present. We put together a few fire safety tips for using fire (and its byproducts) safely and responsibly.

Fire Safety Washington:

  • Campfires:  Make sure that your campfire is well contained, either in a pit or surrounded by rocks and the area around and above it is free of flammable material. Watch sparks and shifts in the fire to ensure that the flames stay within the pit. Be sure to extinguish your fire prior to sleep and when you depart the camp site. Having a bucket of water or a fire extinguisher handy is a very good idea. If a forest or brush fire should start, you’ll want to contact the authorities (in many cases a camping host) immediately.
  • Fireworks: Whether you are shooting off fireworks in your neighborhood or at a campground (make sure this is within the confines of the campground rules), you should be prepared for anything. When lighting fireworks, make sure that there is nothing flammable around your area and keep fireworks away from houses and other structures. Keep a bucket of sand available to dispose of used fireworksand never throw used fireworks directly into the garbage as they could spark a fire. Make sure to keep a hose, water bucket or fire extinguisher in the event a rogue fireworks sparks a blaze. Should a fire occur dial 911 immediately.
  • BBQs: Barbequing is a summer pastime. Whether you prefer a charcoal or gas grill, you should take some safety precautions. Never grill too close to a dwelling wall or under an awning or porch, the heat from the grill could cause a spark. If you are storing a grill close to a dwelling, make sure the grill is completely cooled before putting it in place. When using a charcoal grill,closely follow the direction on the lighter fluid as large flames could start a fire and injure anyone standing too close.
  • Other causes: BBQs, fireworks and campfires are not the only catalysts when it comes to fires. Sparks from ATVs, motorcycles, RVs and cars can start fires with the driver never knowing. Making sure your regular and off-road vehicles are in good repair may help prevent a random spark from starting a blaze.

According to the National Parks Service, “As many as 90 percent of wildland fires in the United States are caused by humans.” What it doesn’t mention: if you start a fire you may be liable for any restitution and damage costs, which could result in you being responsible for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Using proper safety techniques and having the right amount insurance may help cover some of those costs in the event you are found liable or negligent in a fire. Talk to your Lakewood, WA Insurance Unlimited, Inc., agent about how your home insurance policy may help protect you should you start a fire on your property or on a neighbor’s property. Having a personal umbrella policy may help reduce damage costs from an exhausted home insurance policy or negligence from a fire started away from your home. Ask your Insurance Unlimited agent what may be right for your situation and budget. You can also visit our insurance website 24/7 to see what other insurance products we offer like boat or flood insurance. We hope you have a safe summer!