Camping Lakewood, WA

Do you know these camping basics?

A camping trip is one of the great adventures a person (or family) gets to have each summer. Our area is filled with great camping spots, some nestled in the woods some near streams and lakes, but most are great for meeting new friends. Preparing for this wonderful American tradition a camping trip can be challenging as you have to be ready for many different scenarios: wild animals, weather changes, illness, etc. Don’t fret, we are here to highlight some of the basic necessities one may need on a weekend camping trip.

Camping Basics in Washington:

  • Food:  Food and drink is a very important component of any trip. Most folks pack your standard camping fare like hot dogs, s’mores and plenty no-fuss ready to eat snacks. You’ll want to pack some energy bars, nuts, fruit and plenty of water if you plan on doing any physical activity as low blood sugar (and heat) can lead to dizziness and possibly fainting. Storing your food is also extremely important. Making sure all food is tightly sealed in containers will help keep pests and wild animals out of your campsite, you should also make sure that cold food stays cold to avoid food poisoning. Be sure to pack all food away in the evenings in a locked car away from any sleeping quarters as bears and other wild animals may enter camp looking for a snack.
  • Weather: Be prepared for all kinds of weather and be aware that it can change at any moment. Pack enough clothes to layer should it get chilly or rainy, hats and umbrellas for staying out of the sun and proper food gear for hiking or for swimming (including life jackets if you plan on using a canoe or raft). Being prepared for the weather also means being prepared for the pests warm weather brings. Mosquitoes and ticks can be an annoyance, but they can also cause health problems like West Nile Virus and Lyme disease. Citronella candles (or torches) and repellant sprays can help protect against mosquitoes and ticks. For ticks, check yourself and your pets daily for ticks.  They prefer dark, warm areas like behind the knees, ears and inside the belly button. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has some great tick prevention and removal tips.
  • Fires: Whether you are camping with a tent or in an RV or camper, you will most likely be starting a fire (in an approved fire pit) to cook food or just to enjoy. Make sure that your fire pit is well contained 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. Having a bucket of water or a fire extinguisher hand 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. It is not just camp fires that can cause a forest or brush fire. Sparks from motorcycle, ATV or RV tail pipes can also cause a spontaneous fire. If you are bringing any of these “toys” along take to your insurance agent about a personal umbrella insurance policy, which could help mitigate damage and restitution costs if you were found liable or negligent for a brush or forest fire.
  • Cleanliness: Not just personal hygiene, but keeping your campsite clear of trip hazards, such as unused toys, firewood, ropes or other items that could cause a trip. Remember that you’re usually leasing a space of land to camp on, but this won’t stop others from walking through your site. Be sure they have a safe place to travel through and that you can’t be found liable for someone injuring themselves while being in or around your RV (should you be using an RV). You can protect yourself with vacation liability insurance coverage that is available with specialized RV policies such as those offered by Progressive Insurance.

At Insurance Unlimited, Inc., we want you to enjoy your summer camping trips. While we can’t assist you with building fires and setting up a campsite, we can help ensure that all your RVs, ATVs and motorcycles are insured with the right policy to fit your needs and budget. Give your Lakewood, WA Insurance Unlimited, Inc., agent a call and see the difference of working with an independent agent. You can also visit our insurance website 24/7 for more information about the other insurance products we sell, like home insurance or auto insurance.

Generator Safety Lakewood, WA

Generator Safety

At some point during this past winter, you may have lost power and depending on for how long, you may have gone and purchased a generator. Some purchase generators for the “just-in-case” scenario, while others use them for RVing or running a small shop. Regardless of why you have a backup generator, they can be a great tool for helping to keep warm and possibly running some small appliances or light fixtures (depending on the size of your generator.) There are some key safety issues that one should take into consideration when purchasing and using a portable generator during inclement weather or even while camping.

Generator Safety 101 in Washington:

  • Power: When trying to pick out a generator you need to consider what exactly it will be powering. For lighting, heat and appliances, there are specific wattages that need to be met. If the generator is not powerful enough to run these items, both the generator and the appliances, etc., could be damaged. A simple way to figure this out is to look at the generator “running/rated watts.” If the running watts on a generator lists it as 1500, then it can run up to 15 100 watt light bulbs. Some appliances such as fans have a starting surge. So, if a fan is 200 watts, but has a 600 watt power surge when you turn it on, you technically only have 900 watts left on your generator. If running other appliances, remember, 1kw = 1,000 watts, volts x amps = watts, so 3 amps at 120 volts = 360 watts.
  • Placement: You never want to use a generator indoors. Running a generator indoors is essentially like running car in a garage with the door closed. Generators release carbon monoxide (CO) and even in small doses that can be deadly. Installing a battery-operated CO monitor, like this, is a great way to help protect yourself from CO poisoning. The generator should be placed at least 25 ft. from the home or camper and should be in a cleared area. Generators can produce quite a bit of heat and could spark a fire in the right conditions, so if you’re out camping, ensure the area is free of debris. Be cautious when using a generator in wet conditions, a pop-up open air canopy could keep the generator dry. If the weather is wet, use covers on extension cords and remember to never touch electrical outlets or plugs with wet hands.
  • Powering the generator: Generators run on fuel, diesel, unleaded or 2 cycle depending on the type you purchase. When buying and storing fuel, only use approved containers. Every city has different regulations regarding the amount of fuel that can be stored in a residence and where it can be stored, check your local regulations or check with your local fire department for more information on fuel storage.
  • Making it permanent: You may decide that you like your generator so much that you want to make it a permanent fixture at your home in case of future power outages. In that case, you will want to contact a reputable electrician, as attaching a generator to your electrical system can be complicated. Never try to plug a generator directly into an electrical outlet, it could cause serious (expensive) damage to your home system.

Let your Insurance Unlimited agent know if you have a generator permanently attached to your home electrical system. You can also let your agent know if you have made any other upgrades to your home that could result in a home insurance discount, like a security system or an impact resistant roof. The insurance experts at Insurance Unlimited, Inc., in Lakewood, WA are here to assist you with all of your insurance needs. Visit our insurance website 24/7 for more information about us or any of the insurance products we sell like RV insurance or renters insurance.

Hail damage Lakewood, WA

Does my home or auto insurance cover hail damage?

Spring and summer bring wonderful warm (sometimes hot) weather. With that warmer weather, the potential for thunder and hail storms increases. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the U.S. saw more than 5,450 hail related weather events in 2013. While thunderstorms may rattle your windows a bit, hail damage to your home and vehicles can be serious. There are a few ways you can prepare and protect yourself, your home and vehicles before a hail storm hits.

Hail Preparation in Washington:

  • What the hail: As defined from weather.com, hail is “Hail is precipitation in the form of a chunk of ice that can fall from a cumulonimbus cloud. Usually associated with multicell, supercell and cold front induced squall line thunderstorms, most hail falls from the central region of a cloud in a severe storm.“ Hail can range from small marble-sized pellets to the size of a softball. While hailstorms may come with little-to-no warning, being prepared ahead of time is the best defense against hailstorm.
  • Prepare your home: Your home is a large target for hail. Roofs can be severely damaged and if they are not in good repair, large enough hail could leave holes. Making sure that your roof is in good repair and all shingles/tiles are in place. This may help mitigate the hail damage to the roof should a large hailstorm sweep through your area. Windows are also at risk for damage. Hail (even small hail) can crack or shatter windows. Having storm shutters (or even regular shutters) help protect windows from large hail damage. A homeowner’s insurance policy with may cover the damage from hailstorms, however you should check with your insurance agent for limitations.
  • Preparing your vehicle: Unfortunately, there is not much you can do to protect your vehicles (RVs, cars, trucks, motorcycles, etc.) from hail damage. Damage to vehicles can range from small dents and dings to shattered windshields. The only real remedy is parking them undercover in a garage or carport. You can help reduce the cost of repair damage should your vehicle get dented in hailstorm with an auto insurance policy with comprehensive coverage. Your standard liability-only policy will not cover damage associated with hail damage. Of course, limitations and deductibles may apply.
  • Next steps: If your home or vehicle is damaged during a hailstorm, there are a few things that you should do.
    • Take photos of the damage.
    • Report the claim to your insurance carrier.
    • Temporarily mitigate your damages (cover the damage with a tarp, etc.). Your insurance carrier should follow up quickly and often can provide you with recommendations for contractors and auto repair shops.

While large hailstorms are not a common occurrence in Lakewood, WA, it is always good to be prepared. Ask the insurance experts at Insurance Unlimited, Inc., if your home and auto policy carry comprehensive coverage that can help protect you from inclement weather including coverage for hail damage. You can visit their insurance website 24/7 and your agent can also assist you with adding additional insurance policies like flood or earthquake.

Homeowners Insurance Lakewood, WA

Winterize your Lakewood, WA home: May help avoid a homeowners insurance claim

The weather is starting to change, we are entering those warm days of fall where the mornings are brisk and the afternoons are warm. The leaves are starting to turn orange and yellow here in Lakewood, Washington, the kids are back in school and it will soon be time to start making plans for the holidays as winter is on its way. Before winter arrives, there is plenty of time to prep your home, both inside and out, for the coming cold months. Some simple winterization prep can save you from a costly homeowners insurance claim from frozen pipes or huge heating bills from drafty spots in your home.

Four areas to focus your winterization in Washington:

  • Water, water everywhere: Gutters can get jammed up with leaves, branches and other debris. Once the leaves have fallen from the trees, grab a ladder and gently remove the debris from the gutters. Then, rinse the bottoms of the gutter to ensure good flow of water for those winter showers. If your gutters become clogged, rainwater can accumulate around the foundation of your home and possibly seep into the foundation or basement, in which case, you should check for cracks in your foundation and fill them, pronto. A flooded basement can result in a costly homeowner’s insurance claim. Also, anytime you are using a ladder or plan to be on your roof, please let someone know or have someone working with you. An extra pair of hands and eyes can help prevent painful accidents.
  • Where is that draft coming from: The cold winter draft that is leaking in around your doors, windows and from your attic. Take a candle or piece of incense around your home on a windy day and go near doors, windows and attic to look for wind making its way into your home. If your attic has less than 12” of insulation, regardless of where in the country, you should consider adding more. It is an easy do-it-yourself project; any home improvement store should have the tools to help you complete that. It you have single-pane windows you can purchase an inexpensive window insulation kit to add another “pane” to the glass. This keeps the cold air trapped between another layer instead of entering your home. Other areas drafts can creep in are: recessed lighting, door frames and electrical outlets. A variety of caulks, gaskets and weather-stripping is available at any local hardware store.
  • Keep warm:  Do your heating bills spike up during the winter? Aside from performing the aforementioned “draft tests” checking that heating equipment is in good repair may help keep that heating bill down. The furnace can run much more efficiently if it has a clean filter in it. Consider changing your filter once a month. They are inexpensive and pay for themselves in efficiency gains. Also think about checking out your duct insulation. Ducting in homes can become exposed from being bumped in the attic or crawlspace over time and there are huge efficiency losses from this. Ensure your ducts are covered with insulation and not exposed. Also, check for any leaks in connections while the system is running. Speaking of exposure, pipes that are exposed during the cold winter may freeze and explode if not properly insulated. Protect any exposed water pipes with insulation, if a pipe bursts in winter it can cause thousands of dollars in damages. It takes just a few minute to insulate your pipes, a step that can save a headache down the road.
  • Do you smell smoke: Turning on the fireplace is a winter tradition, whether it is a gas or natural wood fireplace. It can also be a hazard if your chimney is dirty. A cleaned chimney will remove creosote, a flammable byproduct of burning wood. Keep your home safe from chimney fires by hiring a professional chimney sweep to remove any build-up. Make sure you are prepared if a fire does break out with a fire extinguisher (it may qualify you for a discount on your homeowner’s insurance in Lakewood, WA) and make sure you have fresh batteries in your smoke detectors. It is always a good idea to check your batteries in the smoke detectors a couple times per year. Count this as one.

While you are taking the time to prep your home for the upcoming winter, talk to your licensed insurance agent to ensure the homeowner’s insurance covers events like floods or fires that may occur during the winter months. Insurance Unlimited, Inc., in Lakewood, Washington can guide you through your homeowner’s insurance policy and add additional coverages like flood insurance and earthquake insurance. Their years of insurance experience can save you a bundle, and they live right in your area, so know first-hand what your insurance needs might be.  You can also visit their insurance website 24/7 to learn more about the other insurance products they offer.

Flood Insurance Lakewood, WA

Protection for a Rainy Day: Flood Insurance in Lakewood, WA

Typically when we think of things like wildfires or snowstorms, we confine them to seasons. Not all natural disasters are season specific and events like massive rainstorms can occur with the right conditions any time of year. Keeping a flood insurance policy, even if you are not in a high-risk area may be a good idea.

The definition of a flood can be tricky as most people associate a flood with a large body of water overflowing wreaking havoc throughout an area, but floods come in many different shapes and sizes. In terms of flood insurance, any water that comes into your home from an outside source (not a burst pipe, sewer back-up, etc.) may be considered a flood. There are easy ways to find out if you are in a high-risk area for floods and what is covered under a flood insurance policy in Lakewood, Washington.

The ins-and-outs of flood insurance in Washington:

 

  • What is a flood: As previously stated, in terms of insurance, a flood is typically water from an outside source coming into your home or business that is not a result of a burst pipe, sewer back-up or other excluded events.  Localized flooding in your home can occur when outside drains become clogged with leaves or debris, when a water main breaks or a storm surge comes ashore from a tropical storm or hurricane. High-risk areas include those living at or below sea-level, those living within the flood plain of a river or those who live in areas that get monsoon-like storm conditions. These areas may be high-risk, but flooding can occur in any neighborhood.
  • Flood Insurance: Purchasing flood insurance can be done through your local independent insurance agency, but it is all federally insured by FEMA. Based on historical trends and flood maps, high-risk areas are determined as those that “have a 1 in 4 chance of flooding during a 30-year mortgage,” according to Floodsmart.gov. A flood insurance premium is based on several factors, like flood risk area, age of the home, number of floors and the amount of coverage you decide upon. The typical policy in a lower-risk can be as low as $129 per year and will go up from there depending on the risk. It should be noted that after purchasing a flood insurance policy, there is a 30-day waiting period, so if you are considering purchasing flood insurance, the sooner the process is started the better.
  • What is covered: Flood damage to a home is costly. Depending on the area of the home taking on water, the costs can be hundreds of thousands of dollars. Carpets may need to be replaced or cleaned, dry wall replaced, appliances, furniture and the list goes on. If the flood is severe enough the home may need to be assessed for structural or electrical damage.

If you think you may need flood insurance, talk to your licensed insurance agent in Lakewood, WA. Insurance Unlimited, Inc., in Lakewood, Washington can guide you through purchasing a flood insurance policy and offers additional lines of insurance like home insurance and earthquake insurance. Their years of insurance experience can save you a bundle, and they live right in your area, so know first-hand what your insurance needs might be.  You can also visit their insurance website 24/7 to learn more about the other insurance products they offer.

 

Wildfire Insurance Lakewood, WA

Don’t get burned: Wildfire Insurance and a comprehensive Homeowner’s Insurance policy

The heat of the summer is celebrated with sunglasses, board shorts and boating, and while it can be quite warm, the summer season is just downright pleasant in Lakewood, Washington. But the summer heat does come at a cost. Summer is also fire season and each year millions of acres across the country are burned. It is not just forests or brush plains that are destroyed, homes and businesses that get in the fire’s path are consumed as well. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, wildfires burned more than 9.3 million acres around the country in 2012. The 2013 fire season has started off with destructive blazes in California, Colorado, Alaska and Arizona.

While many natural disasters like floods or earthquakes require a special insurance policy, Wildfire Insurance is generally covered under the comprehensive portion of a homeowner’s insurance policy. The price of the policy may be higher if you live in an area that is prone to yearly fires. Wildfires are both friend and foe, as they are needed to clear out overgrowth and dead trees. A charred forest allows for new growth trees and helps reduce the risk of another fire occurring in the exact same area during the summer months.

Washington wildfire facts:

  • The spark: Most wildfires start from lightning strikes. The dry foliage and hot winds provide the perfect setting for a fire to ignite. Wildfires can also start from simple mistakes like forgetting to completely douse a campfire or a spark from the backfire of a motorcycle or RV. Even if it is an accident, a person who is found negligent in starting a wildfire may be liable to pay restitution, which can be millions of dollars. Having a personal umbrella policy may help you pay some of those restitution costs.
  • Fighting fire with fire: Through a multi-tiered effort of local and federal agencies, firefighters try to starve a wildfire by creating a perimeter. Firefighters burn the wildfire’s food source, dry vegetation, it hopes that the wildfire will become more manageable, easier to put out with air drops of water. There is a risk however, burning a perimeter may result in another uncontrolled fire if the conditions are just right. But the same principle that firefighters use to try and control the growth of a wildfire could help prevent a significant wildfire insurance claim.
  • Prevention starts at home: Helping protect your home from wildfire damage starts in your yard. If you live in an area that is prone to wildfires, you will want to create a perimeter around your home that is free of debris and flammable materials. Keeping things like sheds and wood piles at least 30 feet away from your home helps reduce the chances of a fire jumping from one structure to the next. Remove a wildfires fuel source by pruning trees and removing dead or dying plants. There are also several websites that can show you how to fire proof your yard like Readyforwildfire.org and U.S. Fire Administration.

Take the time to learn about wildfire danger in your area and to prep your home against the threat of wildfires. Talk to your licensed insurance agent in Lakewood, WA to ensure that wildfire insurance is included in the comprehensive section for your homeowner’s insurance policy. Insurance Unlimited, Inc., in Lakewood, Washington can guide you through your homeowner’s insurance policy and add additional coverages like flood insurance and earthquake insurance. Their years of insurance experience can save you a bundle, and they live right in your area, so know first-hand what your insurance needs might be.  You can also visit their insurance website 24/7 to learn more information.

 

Disaster preparedness kits in Lakewood, WA

Basic home disaster preparedness kit in Lakewood, WA

No one wants to think that they may be stuck in their home during a natural disaster, but the reality is natural disasters happen in every state in our country. During a natural disaster, keeping your family safe and comfortable is a top priority and having a disaster preparedness kit will help you.

A disaster preparedness kit for your home in Washington should include these basics:

Food and Water:

  • Two week supply of bottled water
  • Two week supply of non-perishable food like crackers, protein bars, dried fruit, etc.
  • Infant food and formula
  • Pet food
  • Utensils and plates for each person

Shelter and Comfort:

  • Plastic sheeting
  • Duct tape
  • Sleeping bags for each person
  • Emergency blankets
  • Battery operated or hand crank radio
  • Emergency locator beacon
  • Multipurpose tool, such as a Leatherman
  • Flashlight (and extra batteries)
  • Hand warmers
  • Battery-operated cell phone charger
  • List of emergency numbers (including emergency contacts, insurance agent)
  • Copies of important documents such as insurance cards, IDs, home inventory lists, etc.
  • Books, toys or other entertainment items for children
  • Extra clothing/shoes for inclement weather
  • A first aid kit (make sure this kit has antiseptic, bandages, small scissors, aspirin or ibuprofen, hot and cold compresses)
  • “Help” or “Assistance Needed” sign
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Diapers
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Personal sanitizing wipes
  • Surgical masks and gloves
  • Air horn or whistle
  • Necessary medications

Safety and Hygiene:

Of course you can add additional items to your disaster preparedness kit depending on the needs of your family. Store your disaster preparedness kit in an easily accessible area, make sure you check your kit often and update it as things expire. For more information about disaster kits, please visit Ready.gov.

We hope that you never need to use your disaster preparedness kit, but we hope that it will help get you and your family through the stress of a natural disaster. If a natural disaster does occur in our area, once your family is safe, call your insurance agent at Insurance Unlimited, Inc., in Lakewood, Washington as soon as possible. They can help you get the claims process started. Whatever your insurance needs, the experts at Insurance Unlimited, Inc., can help. Their years of insurance experience can save you a bundle!  You can also visit their insurance website 24/7 to learn more about the other valuable insurance products they offer like earthquake or flood insurance

Boat Insurance Lakewood, WA

Will your boat insurance in Lakewood, WA keep you afloat?

The sun is shining, the water is warm and boating season is upon us. By now you’ve probably prepped the boat, made sure your boating license is valid and planned outings with family and friends, but have you looked at your boat insurance? There are many coverage options available in Lakewood, WA, and using a local, independent agent guarantees that you will have many coverage options, so you can pick a policy that suits your needs before heading out to the water.

The 411 on boat insurance in Washington:

  • Bundling: It may not be possible to bundle your boat insurance with an existing policy, like homeowner’s insurance, as there may be restrictions on the type of boat you own. In order to fit under a homeowner’s insurance policy, boats may need to be under a certain length and under a certain price point.  There is a down side to having your boat covered under a homeowner’s insurance policy: specialized coverages may be limited or not available.
  • Specialized Coverages: These types of coverages can include On-Water Towing, helpful when your boat runs out of gas or has a mechanical issue mid-outing. Fuel Spill and Wreckage Removal may help keep you covered in the event your boat leaks fuel or if there is an accident; otherwise you may be on the hook for clean-up expenses. You may also want to consider Uninsured Boater coverage. Just like Uninsured Motorist coverage for your car or truck, this may help with expenses if your boat is hit or damaged by another boater without proper boat insurance coverage. Specialized Coverages may also include Personal Effects coverage.
  • Travel: Planning to sail your boat to the Bahamas? Can we go with you? Whether you are sailing your boat to a sunny tropical locale or sailing her on a tranquil lake in Canada, you need to make sure that your boat insurance covers travel outside your state and country. Some insurance plans may cover waterways in the continental U.S., but may not cover international waters or may only cover a boat in international water within a certain mile radius from the U.S. coast. Check with your agent to see if your plan coverages international travel.
  • Replacement: We hope that you never have to replace your boat due to an accident. In order to avoid costly out-of-pocket expenses to replace your boat, make sure that you have the appropriate replacement coverage in place long before you hit the water. There are two options for replacement coverage: Total Loss Replacement and Agreed Value coverage. Total Loss Replacement is just that, a replacement of your boat. However this type of coverage may not be offered by all insurance carriers, more likely than not the carrier will provide Agreed Value coverage. This is the value of your boat, agreed upon by you and your agent before you sign the policy.

There are many options out there when looking for boat insurance in Lakewood, Washington and your local independent agents at Insurance Unlimited, Inc., can help you navigate your options to find the best coverage for your needs. They can also assist with a personal watercraft policy for your other water-traveling toys. Whatever your insurance needs, talk to the experts at Insurance Unlimited, Inc. Their years of insurance experience can save you a bundle!  You can also visit their insurance website 24/7 to learn more about the other valuable insurance products they offer.