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 Renton or Bellevue, 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 homeowner’s 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 Renton or Bellevue, 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. Eastside Insurance Services in Renton or Bellevue, 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.

We all use our vehicles to get us from point A to point B; usually on personal errands, road trips or commuting to work. If you happen to use your vehicle for business use, like a paper route or pizza delivery, your personal auto insurance policy may not protect you in an accident.

If your business provides a vehicle for you, most likely that vehicle is covered under their policy, but you should check just to be certain. If it is required that you use your personal vehicle, your personal auto insurance policy may not be sufficient. Your personal auto insurance policy only covers your vehicle for personal use. If you use your vehicle to deliver goods in exchange for money, a commercial auto insurance policy in Renton and Bellevue, WA may be necessary.

Pizza delivery insurance (Commercial auto insurance) in Washington:

  • Who needs it: Do you find yourself Googling “pizza delivery car insurance”? Do you use your personal vehicle to deliver papers, pizzas, sandwiches, flowers or other deliverables in exchange for money? If you answered yes to this question, you may need a commercial auto insurance policy for your vehicle.
  • Why do you need another policy: You can get higher limits from your policy, giving yourself and the business extra protection from accidents. While there probably won’t be a giant pizza attached to your vehicle, if your vehicle does have permanently attached equipment, a commercial auto policy can cover that from damage.
  • What is covered: A commercial auto insurance policy covers many of the same facets as a personal auto insurance policy, however limits and coverage options may vary between carriers.

So whether you are deliver packages, flowers, papers, sandwiches or are a pizza delivery driving looking for commercial auto insurance, talk to the experts at Eastside Insurance Services in Renton and Bellevue, WA. Their years of experience can save you bundle. Eastside Insurance Services agents can also assist you with a motorcycle or ATV insurance policy. Visit their insurance website 24/7 to learn about the other great insurance products they offer.

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 Renton or Bellevue, 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 Renton or Bellevue, WA. Eastside Insurance Services in Renton or Bellevue, 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.