Don’t Pet the Pests

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North Carolina is the habitat of pests in many shapes and sizes. You will find ants, crane flies, fleas and ticks, mosquitoes, roaches, rodents, stink bugs, and termites in our state. You might also encounter black bears, bats, opossums, raccoons, skunks, and snakes.

Pest damage from unwanted visitors is found indoors and out, in homes and businesses, in urban and rural areas. Pests find their way into buildings through small openings. Mice will flatten themselves and squeeze through the space between the bottom of a door and the floor. Visitors able to crawl, climb, or slither up tree trunks and negotiate branches will get onto your roof and discover passages leading to interior spaces they can explore.

Raccoons and squirrels like to chew on wires leading into your home or business from outside, creating electrical problems not easily fixed. Raccoons also like wood. They can chew holes on your roof large enough to let them enter your attic to have a snack on the insulation.  Bats also love to roost in attics and crawl spaces. Their urine and feces are health hazards.

There is a lot you can do to make your building and the area surrounding it less attractive to pests. Bears know that where there are humans, there is food. Keep the lids on your trash bins tightly closed. If cooking on an outdoor grill, don’t leave any food unattended. Avoid feeding your pets outdoors. If you must put their food dishes outside, remove them as soon as your animals have finished eating. If you leave the dishes outside, you might find a possum or raccoon feeding on the leftovers when you return. Use foam to fill in the spaces around pipes leading into your building. Termites, spiders, and ants like living in damp, dark places. Move wood piles away from your home to keep pests from residing too close to you.

Winterizing Your Vacation Homes

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Vacation homes give you and your family a chance to enjoy the beauty of the mountains whenever you like. These cabins and luxurious retreats can also generate income through short-term rentals. However, the cold and snow that make it tricky to live in the mountains in winter reduce opportunities to use your vacation home in the winter. Winter conditions can also damage plumbing and other parts of the home. Winterizing your vacation home prevents damage and ensures your place is ready to use again when spring arrives.

Drain the Pipes

A frozen pipe is the worst consequence of avoiding winterization because the pipe will inevitable melt and flood your vacation home. Draining the pipes is as simple as cutting off the main supply to the home, letting the water run out at the lowest tap, then pouring a little RV safe antifreeze into the sinks, toilets and tubs. Since these fixtures are plumbed with a small bend that traps water, you can’t entirely drain them. Just rinse the antifreeze out when you turn the water supply back on for spring to resume normal use of your plumbing.

Shut Off Your Water Heater

Since there’s no water to keep your water heater topped up during winterization, you need to turn it off manually. Many water heaters are easily switched off at the unit or thanks to a nearby switch. Other models may require you to flip the breaker in the circuit box to cut power. Leaving a water heater running while the water supply is cut causes the unit to run dry, burn up, and potentially explode or start a house fire. Protect your vacation home by preferably turning the water heater off any time you’re not present for more than a day or two.

Set the Heating System

Even after you’ve drained the pipes, it’s safest to keep the vacation home just above freezing in the winter. Unless you prefer to cut all power to the structure to prevent electrical fires, set your vacation home’s furnace to around 50 degrees F. This will prevent most forms of damage to the vacation home caused by extremely cold temperatures. You should still drain the pipes in case the heat fails or there is a power outage.

Get Insurance Coverage

Finally, don’t leave your vacation home unattended for months at a time without the peace of mind offered by an insurance plan. Vacation home insurance costs far less than you think and can help you quickly repair any damage that occurs over the winter.

 

Use National Preparedness Month to Perfect Your Disaster Prep

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September reminds some of you that you will soon face winter storms. At the same time, others might still have concerns over the track of tropical storms. Either way, the Department of Homeland Security wants to promote each September as  National Preparedness Month to remind Americans how they can benefit from disaster planning. To help, Ready.gov offers plenty of information about planning for various types of emergencies or disasters.

Last year, millions of people suffered because of wildfires, hurricanes, and other threats. Families who could make plans in advance usually suffered less, bounced back faster, and even saved lives.

How to Prep Your Home and Family for Disasters

Have you considered how a severe storm, flood, or other hazard would impact you? Take these steps to make sure your home and family can handle an emergency:

  • Address the worst case first: You need to make sure that you have reliable ways to receive alerts and communicate with other people in your family if you get separated. An old-fashioned, battery radio and battery-powered phone chargers can come in handy.  Also, find and discuss likely evacuation routes and nearby emergency shelters.
  • Prepare your home: During many natural disasters, residents shelter at home. Make sure you have water, flashlights, stored food, stocks in your first aid kit, and other essentials you might need if you lose your utilities. If you purchased batteries and other supplies several months ago, you need to make sure they’re still usable. If anybody in the household relies upon medicine or medical equipment, that needs to be considered.
  • Document your plans: You can print and download a couple of forms to document your emergency and communication plans from the FEMA website. These will help you document your emergency plan. Make sure you share this document with others in your family and that they know where to find it if they have questions.
  • Practice with your family: Your eight-year-old might be a whiz with computers, but are you certain that he knows how to replace batteries in a battery-powered radio or even knows where you keep them? While you might simply explain some aspects of your plan, you may need to demonstrate and practice other parts.

Don’t Forget to Plan for High-Quality Insurance Coverage

Have you taken the time to speak with an insurance agent about typical risks you may face and what kinds of coverage will protect you? For instance, typical homeowners policies won’t protect you against natural floods, so you may need to consider purchasing flood insurance. At North Carolina’s Overbay Insurance, we are always here to help you protect your family, home, and pocketbook.

Three Timely Back-To-School Safety Tips for Kids and Parents

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As usual, summer vacation seems to have passed in a flash! Most families have plenty of tasks to occupy themselves as the first day of school approaches rapidly. In the midst of school shopping and everything else that needs to get done before the first bell rings, prudent parents might also review some back-to-school safety tips with their kids.

Three Important Back-To-School Safety Reminders

Consider a few of the most common safety issues as kids head back to school.

  1. Phones And Other Mobile Devices

The pervasiveness of handheld mobile devices is one of the biggest changes since our own school days. Nobody can argue that it’s handy to have a portable phone and computer that fits in a pocket or backpack. On the other hand, it’s important to recognize how distracting these little devices can become. Drivers need to keep their eyes on the road, and that’s even more critical in areas where lots of kids will walk to school. Also, make sure any walkers or bike riders know to focus on traffic and not their phones.

  1. Teen Drivers

Lots of new drivers will start finding their own way to school this year. It’s a good idea for parents to practice the route to school with their new driver, even if the student already has a license. Make sure these young drivers leave for school in plenty of time, so they do not need to hurry. Please remind them that they need to obey the school speed limits and of course, never look at their phones while they are behind the wheel of a car.

  1. Backpack Safety

Lots of parents have reasonable concerns about the weight of the books and other supplies that young children have to carry to school. Backpacks with wide straps help, and some new backpacks come with wheels, though the wheels can increase the weight when they must be carried. Even the sturdiest kids should not carry backpacks that exceed more than 10 to 15 percent of their body weight. That means that your 100-pound sixth grader should not carry a backpack that exceeds 10 to 15 pounds.

Review Insurance Coverage for Fall and Winter

As autumn approaches, it’s a good time to review insurance coverage for your home, health, and of course, those new drivers. Here at Overbay Insurance in North Carolina, we are here to help you manage your insurance premiums and protection.

How Does Your Homeowners Policy Cover an Attractive Nuisance?

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For homeowners, an attractive nuisance describes something that might attract people to your property but increases the risk of harm. Some common examples of attractive nuisances include pools, trampolines, and playground equipment. Some attractive nuisances may not actually improve your property but still serve to attract curious children or even adults. Consider some examples of these like construction tools or debris that you haven’t gotten around to properly storing or discarding. Depending upon the situation, property visitors might hold you liable if they get injured.

How to Protect Yourself Against Attractive Nuisance Claims

Local regulations and insurance companies expect you take reasonable precautions to protect people on your property. For instance, you’re expected to supervise young children in the pool. As a responsible homeowner and parent, you probably do supervise your own kids and their guests. However, you can’t watch your pool 24 hours a day, so what happens if an uninvited guest gets harmed on your property by an attractive nuisance?

Rules differ, but in general, courts may still hold you responsible for injuries to younger children. If an adult trespasser manages to get inside your property and take a swim when you’re not home, a judge probably won’t expect you to hire a full-time security guard or lifeguard. If you don’t have a fence and secured gate around any risky features of your property, and a young child takes a dip, the law may hold you responsible if you invited the child or not.

Mostly, preventing liability from attractive nuisances should boil down to common sense. If you know about dangers on your property and fail to take measures to limit the risk, an injured party may have a claim. For instance, you might not have a way to keep a determined adult from trespassing; however, you can lock the gate to your backyard to keep out six-year-old kids.

Will Your Homeowners Policy Cover an Attractive Nuisance?

If you have a lot to lose, you may consider adding an umbrella insurance policy. Umbrella insurance will increase your liability coverage over the current limits for a base homeowners policy, auto policy, and even some things these kinds of insurance won’t cover. People with a lot of assets usually find that umbrella insurance offers them an inexpensive way to increase liability protection.

If you plan to install a pool, buy a trampoline, or fix your fence, you should call your insurance agent to learn how well your current insurance will cover you and what reasonable steps you should take to protect yourself and other people. For example, a pool might increase your homeowners insurance premiums; however, installing a fence with a locked gate around the pool could help earn a discount.

At Overbay Insurance Services in North Carolina, we’re here to help you protect your property and your pocketbook. Discuss your unique situation with us to keep your property attractive and free from concerns over nuisances.

3 Ways to Keep High School Graduation Parties Memorable and Safe

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No matter how many degrees, honors, and accomplishments people earn, most adults say that their high school graduation was the most memorable milestone of their life. Indeed, graduating from high school represents a significant rite of passage in American culture. It’s often celebrated with people who have grown up together and who have known the graduating senior their entire life. High school graduation parties will give friends and family a chance to remember the good times and talk about plans for the future.

Three High School Graduation Celebration Tips

If you’re planning a high school graduation celebration for your son or daughter, keep these suggestions in mind to make sure everybody remembers the party in a positive way.

  1. It’s Not Too Late to Teach Budgeting

If your child plans to start a job, continue their education, or join the military, you may believe you have lost your chance to guide them. Actually, this is probably just the beginning of your opportunities to help educate them about more adult things, like budgeting.

While you might ask your son or daughter for party suggestions, you should also set a budget that may influence the venue and the number of invited guests. You can make sure that you involve your child in plans and understands that prudent people set limits.

House Rules Still Apply 

One graduation party ended in a disaster because the parents allowed guests to drink alcohol in their private home. Some of the young people got rowdy on the street outside, neighbors grew alarmed, police were called, and the parents ended up leaving the home in handcuffs. The police did not arrest the students, but they would not allow them to drive home, so their parents were called.

If graduates are supposed to be on their way towards adulthood, it’s important for the hosts to set a good example. Make sure that house rules still apply and of course, that nobody breaks any laws.

Make Sure the Party is Covered

If a guest gets injured or has property stolen or damaged, the home’s legal occupants could get held liable. The best time to make sure that homeowners and renters insurance policies are in good order is before holding a large party and not afterward.

Besides, comparing home coverage may give you a chance to reduce your premiums, which can certainly help defray graduation costs. If your child needs money for college or to set up their own household, you’ll also be happy to save money.

Tell Us About Your Life Changes

Tell us about any significant life changes because these events may also change your insurance needs. Besides homeowners and renters insurance, your auto insurance could vary if your child plans to leave home with or without a car. At Overbay Insurance in Waynesville, N.C., we want to help you manage your risks and your budget.

Summarizing Summerizing: Preparing Your Vacation Rental Property for the Busy Summer Months

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Mild spring weather makes most people start thinking about summer. To prepare for summer, you might need to focus on getting your vacation rental property ready for your summer guests. To help you plan ahead, consider a few pre-season tips that can keep you and your guests cool-headed when the weather gets hot.

Tips to Prepare Your Vacation Rental for the Summer

You’re likely to enjoy faster service and better deals if you invest in these vacation property preparations before the busy season. Besides, you can avoid the hassles of having to arrange last-minute or emergency repairs.

These are some tasks you may want to get started on as early as possible:

  • Get the AC serviced: Nothing can sour your guest’s attitude faster than a broken air conditioner on a hot day. Besides, your investment in spring AC services should reward you with lower energy costs, a longer lifespan for your equipment, and less risk of paying more for emergency repair fees. You could get a local HVAC company to send out a technician to service your unit and warn you of potential problems.
  • Make safety preparations: Have landscaping work done to reduce fire hazards and check smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and other safety devices. If you don’t have a home security system installed, you might consider the benefits it can provide for early detection and reduced risk of all sorts of threats. Some of these systems can even help you monitor and control your property remotely.
  • Invest in deep cleaning: Even if your property has been vacant since the last time you had it cleaned, it’s a good idea to freshen it up again. You can use this opportunity to touch up paint, make sure you stocked promised supplies, and replace worn linens and towels.
  • Check appliances and extras: It only makes sense to make certain that the pool, stove, BBQ, and refrigerator function well for your guests. These kinds of annoyances are much easier to handle before guests arrive, and prompt attention to details can keep your guests renting from you season after season.
  • Post rules in a visible place: Even though you know your guests are paying customers, it’s fine to set boundaries. You can communicate the house rules with a visible and friendly sign on the door. Some reasonable rules might include restricting tobacco use to outdoors and supervising young children.  You can also post your contact information and emergency instructions on the same sign.

Do You Need a Spring Insurance Checkup for your Vacation Rental Property?

At Overbay Insurance Services, here in Waynesville, NC, we enjoy working with rental property owners. We want to help you protect your property with sensible safety tips and affordable vacation rental property insurance. Contact us before the busy season starts to make sure you have the right protection. We want to help you enjoy a profitable and stress-free summer.

Home Buying Tips

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When you’re ready to buy a home, expect to experience a combination of exhilaration and some exhaustion. You’ve got a lot of information to gather and important choices to make. On the other hand, you’re about to make an investment in your future security and lifestyle. Your careful consideration of your own preferences, financial situation, and professional services can help ensure your choices will satisfy you for many years in the future.

Home Buying Tips

In order to minimize frustration and maximize your opportunity, consider some home buying tips from seasoned professionals.

  1. Figure Out What Kind of Home You Can Afford

Unless you’re one of the few home buyers who can write a check for the sales price, you will have to qualify for a mortgage before you can close on a house. Certainly, mortgage brokers will help; however, you should check your credit scores and set a budget for monthly payments first.

Besides simply making mortgage payments for principal and interest, you’ll also need to pay for homeowners insurance, property taxes, upkeep, and other potential expenses. An honest assessment of your financial situation will keep you on track and allow mortgage and real estate professionals to serve you better.

You can also ask lenders for preapproval letters because these can help with negotiations and help you understand how expensive of a home that you can afford. Just understand that a preapproval differs from a final approval because lenders may also factor their valuation of the home in their decision.

  1. Shop Around for Professional Help

During the process of buying a home, you will probably need to rely upon real estate professionals for guidance. You might ask your friends, coworkers, and family for referrals for real estate agents and loan brokers. If you’re new to town, you might begin interviewing professionals without committing to the first ones that you meet.

As soon as you find a likely house, you should engage a home inspector to make sure the home you want doesn’t hide any unpleasant surprises. According to Chase, home buyers should seek this inspection as early in the process as possible because they may have to negotiate to get some problems corrected or to have the sales price adjusted. In some cases, serious problems can make deals go sour, so a prompt inspection can help save time.

  1. Decide What’s Most Important to You

You should savor the excitement of shopping for a new home. At the same time, you should try to keep yourself from making quick and emotional decisions that you may regret later. Besides knowing your budget, you could also list and rank other important factors, like neighborhood schools, access to transportation, and pleasant neighbors. Use that list as a guide to help make a logical choice.

Protect Your New Home With Homeowners Insurance

While you’re out looking for real estate professionals, don’t forget that you’ll need a good homeowners insurance agent. As soon as you find a likely new home, you can contact us for competitive quotes and advice about the kind of coverage you may need.

 

How Well Does Your Homeowners Insurance Cover Jewelry?

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Did you unwrap your Valentine’s Day present to find jewelry inside? Many people enjoy receiving gemstones and precious metals as a symbol of love, friendship, or appreciation. While you appreciate your lovely gift, make sure you understand how your homeowner’s insurance protects your most valuable possessions.

How Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Fine Jewelry?

A standard home policy will cover your possessions in the case of theft or damage because of a covered hazard. Typically, your maximum coverage for the contents of your home is a percentage of the total coverage for your entire home. If you have your home covered for $300,000 and your home contents covered at 50 percent, you may have up to $150,000 in protection for most of the things in your house.

You should know that your policy limits for jewelry, antiques, artwork, and other luxuries could be much lower than the limits for other items in your house. You should take time to read the details of your own insurance contract because it may limit coverage for jewelry to as little as $1,500 to $2,500. In some cases, it may impose lower limits to jewelry lost because of theft than for jewelry damaged in a fire or windstorm.

How to Ensure Adequate Coverage for Jewelry

According to the Insurance Information Institute, you have two options to increase insurance protection for jewelry and other luxury items:

  • Increase policy limits: If you just need to increase your limits slightly over your standard policy, you can contact your insurance company. For example, you might be able to pay a bit more to increase your limits from $2,500 to $5,000. You should certainly keep photos and documents of your valuables organized in a home inventory to make sure you can prove your losses to the insurance company if you need to make a claim.
  • Add a floater policy: If you have a lot of value tied up in high-end watches, expensive jewelry, and other valuables, you may choose to purchase a floater policy. This kind of coverage will increase your protection and even cover certain incidents that your basic home policy may exclude. For instance, these policies can reimburse you if you accidentally leave your wedding ring in a hotel or drop a diamond stud down the drain. Before you buy a floater policy, you should ask your insurance agent to help you find a reputable appraiser.

We Can Help You Protect Your Valuables

Here at Overbay Insurance in Waynesfield, NC, we want to help you find the best solutions to protect all of your possessions. We can suggest the best kinds of coverage, acceptable appraisers, and affordable insurance companies. We will also suggest ways to gather and store documentation about your valuables to help make the claims process quick and satisfying.  Contact us today to let us know what you need.

https://www.iii.org/article/floaters-and-endorsements-special-coverage-valuables

https://www.kiplinger.com/article/insurance/T028-C000-S002-will-my-homeowner-s-policy-cover-my-jewelry.html

Using Financial Wellness Month to Improve Your Small Business

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The U.S. Census just issued a press release to remind Americans to celebrate Financial Wellness Month in January. As the press release mentioned, this unofficial holiday has been timed to land right after people tend to make resolutions after New Year’s Eve.  This celebration isn’t just intended for individuals and families, so many small business owners can also resolve to improve their financial stability over the coming year.

How Can Your Small Business Make the Most of Financial Wellness Month?

For many small businesses, January offers a mild lull between the busy holiday season and preparation for tax time. If so, Financial Awareness Month might be the perfect time to consider making some improvements that will help manage cash flow and reduce stress through this year and for many years to come.

Improve Your Accounting System

Few small businesses every regretted keeping too many records. The right information can help you make good decisions, apply for funding, and satisfy the tax authorities. At the same time, most small business owners lack the time or knowledge to keep really good accounting records.

Small business accounting software saves time and helps enforce good accounting practices. You can find small business accounting software that has been created for use by people without an accounting background too.

Manage Computer Security Better

Your small business is as vulnerable to computer attacks and accidents as large corporations are. You can use this time to make sure your networks and computers are secure, that you can easily restore your systems from backups, and to follow other small business computer security tips presented by the SBA.

If you don’t have the time or expertise to secure your computers and networks, you might consider investing in security consulting or third-party security management.

Control Your Risks

As a small business owner, you have probably succeeded by learning to plan for as many risks as possible. However, you can’t plan for everything, so you purchase commercial insurance to protect you against unexpected hazards. For instance, think about how devastating it would be if you had to close your doors for several days because of a storm or cyber attack.

With business interruption insurance, you can be certain you’ll receive income to help you stay in business while problems get addressed. You might buy business interruption insurance packaged in a business owner policy, or you may purchase it as a stand-alone policy.

Call Upon Us for Help

At Overbay Insurance in Waynesville, N.C., we not only run a small business, we work with many small business owners to help them assure their financial security. As independent commercial insurance agents, we will suggest the best, affordable insurance for your needs. In addition, we can offer many tips to help you manage risks better, so you lower your risk of making claims in the first place.

Sources

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/us-census-bureau-daily-feature-for-january-14-financial-wellness-month-300201017.html

https://www.thebalance.com/small-business-accounting-software-3956224

https://www.sba.gov/managing-business/cybersecurity/top-ten-cybersecurity-tips