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Helpful tips, advice, information and fun facts on topics including safety, maintenance and homeowners insurance.
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Warning Signs of Plumbing Failure

While your home’s plumbing system appears to be working, there are many warning signs of an underlying issue. In order to reduce your chances of major water damage in your home, you must be aware of these signs and identify them to avoid having to file a claim.  After a while, it is easy to get used to the sound of rattling pipes, a leaky kitchen faucet and a slow flushing toilet. By ignoring these signs, you are creating the headache you could have easily avoided. Here are some warning signs of plumbing failure: A slow, gradual leak coming from a pipe Pipes rattle and make noise An increase in your water bill Persistent sound of running water in toilet Slow drainage in the sink or shower Low water pressure Water backs up in the sink when running the dishwasher Toilet begins to make a “bubbling” sound  If you notice any of these signs, it is important to call a plumber right away and take care of any necessary repairs, to avoi ...

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How to Reduce Your Chances of Major Water Damage

Water damage is one of the leading causes of claims filed in the State of Florida. There are preventative measures every homeowner can take to significantly reduce their risk of damage. Below are 3 simple steps you can take to protect your home and belongings:   Be mindful of where you plant: Certain plants and trees have invasive roots, meaning the roots can grow right into your sprinkler system, septic tanks, pipes, and more. By creating a plan before you plant, you can avoid water line damage due to roots.   Clean out your gutters: This task may seem a bit tedious, but it will be well worth it. Safety climb up to the roof to inspect your gutters for leaves, birds’ nests, sticks, etc. and clean them out.  A clogged gutter can send water straight into your home’s foundation or into the basement, causing major water damage. You can also hire a certified professional to do this for you.   Keep an eye on your water bill: Regardless of the size of your home, a leak could r ...

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How to Identify and Avoid AOB Fraud

An AOB (Assignment of Benefits) is a contract between you and a third party such as a contractor, roofer, or water mitigation company. When you sign an AOB, you are giving the third-party vendor the right to deal directly with your homeowners insurance carrier Citizens and receive payment for your claim. Essentially, you are giving up your rights to manage your claim and placing the third party in total control of reporting the amount of loss to your insurance company and negotiating payment.  This is not to say all AOB contracts are fraudulent, but AOB abuse is on the rise each year and we encourage all homeowners to be aware of these crimes. The first step is to identify a fraudulent contractor. Here are some red flags: Someone knocks on your door and tells you there is damage you didn’t know about. You’re promised something for nothing, such as a free roof or kitchen renovation.  Someone claims the damage is greater than it clearly is.  Permanent repairs ...

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AOB Abuse Leads to Increases in Premiums

Assignment of Benefits (AOB) fraud is a fast growing problem for Florida homeowners. Unfortunately, as the result of this problem, it has lead to an increase in homeowners’ insurance premiums for a vast majority of carriers doing business in our State. Most commonly, AOB fraud occurs during an emergency, such as a plumbing or roof leak. When homeowners sign an AOB contract, it puts a third party in direct control, and claims are inflated with unnecessary costs and fees. It doesn’t end there – these costs are then passed on to policyholders when insurance companies calculate and adjust their rates.  Large areas of the state, particularly the tri-county area of Southeast Florida, have already been hit with double-digit property insurance rate hikes, with more increases on the horizon if something isn’t done. State-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp. has calculated what will happen if lawmakers do not fix the problem. In Palm Beach, for example, coverage for a residenti ...

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Natural Sunburn Remedies

If you’ve ever had a sunburn, you should know it’s nothing to mess around with. Most sunburns occur when people accidentally fall asleep on the beach or by the pool, not noticing they are baking in the sun. Other times, sunburns occur when people forget to re-apply throughout the day, assuming one application in the morning is enough.   Here are 5 quick and easy tips to help with both immediate and long-term sunburn relief: 1. Place a cool compress on irritated skin   2. Drink a lot of water and sports drinks such as Gatorade or Powerade. Once you are sunburned, your skin will be extremely dry and dehydrated. By replacing your lost body fluids, you are helping your skin to heal quicker. 3. After washing all affected areas with plain water, take a cup of cold milk and let sit out for about 5 minutes. Dip a cotton pad in the milk and apply gently on the skin. By letting it dry on your skin, it will form a thin protective layer which seals moisture in. After a few ho ...

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The Dangers of Leaving Children and Pets in Hot Cars

Every year, there are heartbreaking and preventable deaths due to children and pets being left alone in hot, parked cars. Animals can sustain brain damage or even die from heatstroke in just 15 minutes, and a child’s body temperature can rise up to 5 times faster than an adult’s, and will succumb to death with a 107 degree body temperature.   In 2016, 39 children died from heatstroke due to being left in a hot car, and 5 have suffered the same fate in 2017. The total number of U.S. heatstroke deaths since 1998 is 705, all due to people leaving their children in hot cars (an average of 37 deaths a year). Here are some things you should consider before leaving your child or pet unattended in a hot car:   No Exceptions, No Excuses: No matter how brief, it is never okay to leave your children or pets alone in a car, even with the windows cracked open. You might think you’re doing them a favor by letting them have some shut-eye while you quickly run into the store, but by leav ...

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Dehydration in Children and Pets

When it comes to spotting the signs of dehydration, adults are typically better informed and independent enough to recognize warning signs on their own, while younger children and pets tend to need some assistance in this area. The hottest days of the summer could be the most dangerous for your children and pets. It is important to keep a close eye on them and be aware of the red flags. What causes dehydration? Loss of water through sweat, tears and urine will typically cause dehydration, if not replaced by drinking fluids and eating foods which contain water. Illness could also cause dehydration due to vomiting, fever or diarrhea. Children who are overexposed to the sun and are not drinking enough water are especially susceptible to dehydration. What are the symptoms of dehydration? The most common symptom of dehydration is thirst. Thirst is a sign your body needs hydrating. Other symptoms are less-frequent urination, dry skin, fatigue, headache, light-headedness, dizziness, dry mouth, increased breat ...

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Tropical Weather Disturbances Being Closely Monitored

  The National Hurricane Center has issued an advisory for a potential tropical cyclone developing in the deep tropical Atlantic. The latest update advises there is a disturbance moving rapidly toward the Southern Windward Islands, moving at approximately 23 mph (without circulation). It is still too early to know if the storm will affect South Florida, but if it does become a named storm, it will be named “Bret”. Hurricane Season 2017 is here: Are you prepared? Read our latest blog on how to prepare your home and your family this year.  Use Your Resources: The most important thing to know before, during, and after a storm is your resources. These websites and numbers to each should be posted in your home for easy access. These resources are always available to you, and they could save a life in the case of an emergency.  American Red Cross  National Hurricane Center  Florida Division of Emergency Management    Keeping your family and ...

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Quick Camping Safety Tips

When warmer weather approaches, there’s nothing like spending time in the great outdoors. Camping it can be a lot of fun, but typically holds greater dangers than what you would experience in the city or suburbs, such as wildlife, altitude, weather, and more. Before you pack your sleeping bags and tents, here are some things you should consider: Stay up to date on vaccinations: Vaccinations protect people of all ages from certain diseases. It is very important to use bug spray to protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is currently no vaccine to prevent Zika virus, which is what some mosquitos carry. Remember to spray yourself a few times each day and follow the instructions on the back of the product to avoid being bitten. Check the weather: Before you leave for your camping trip, check the weather forecast. Pack alternative clothing in case mother nature decides to provide you with a shower. Warm blankets, sweaters, rain jackets and rain boots are great options for unexpected weather. Gear up ...

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Vacation Safety Tips Keep Your Homes Safe and Secured This Summer

Vacations require a lot of planning and preparation. This includes not only packing and putting together your itinerary, but also protecting the things you leave behind such as your home and belongings. Here are some tips to consider before departing on your vacation: Don’t let the world know: By posting on social media, depending on your privacy settings, you are letting a large network of people (if not anyone in the world), know exactly what you are up to. Social media can be particularly dangerous at these times. In this day and age, it is tempting to document everything you do on social media. To protect your home and valuables, it is important to keep your vacation low-key. Be friendly with your neighbors: It pays off to have a few friends in the neighborhood. You could have someone you trust watch over your home and bring in the mail while you are away. This is much safer than leaving your key in an obvious place like under the mat or in the mailbox. Discretion is advised: Be c ...

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