Lightning Strikes – Is this covered under your Home or Business insurance?

lightning
As the weather begins to warm, the inevitable occurs – Thunder and Lightning storms!

Did you know that lightning strikes are electrical discharges on a massive scale between the atmosphere and an earth-bound object? It begins in thunderclouds and stops when it touches ground – it’s called Cloud to Ground (CG) lightning! Only about 25% of all lightning strikes (worldwide) are CG. The bulk of lightning events are Intracloud (IC) or Cloud to Cloud (CC). Some lightning even goes from Ground to Cloud (GC).

Amazingly the number of deaths in the United States has dropped from 432 in 1943 to 23 in 2013 in a report from the National Weather Service NOAA . This reduction is due to awareness efforts from the National Weather Service, media, emergency management and outdoor recreational organizations.

The electrical energy from a lightning strike can boost electrical pressure by millions of volts. This will overpower almost any surge protector. In a lightning storm, never fully rely on your surge protectors to save your electrical components. If possible, it’s always best to unplug. Although not a guarantee, if you would like extra protection; check out adding a power surge arrestor for your entire home or business.

Lightning strikes to your Home or Business ARE A COVERED CAUSE OF LOSS within your policy. Even your vehicle, if struck by lightning (although very rare) is covered as long as you have comprehensive coverages. With today’s weather satellites and the World Wide Web, insurance adjustors can verify the lightning strike with pinpoint accuracy.

We here at Barker, Beck, Collins & Kronauge want you to enjoy and remember to be safe during this spring season! Please make sure to know the Safety Tips for Lightning. If you have any questions, we will be happy to help to you.

Be Safe! Great Tips for Driving in Extreme Weather

Most of us understand the importance of preparing our vehicles for winter ̶ making sure tires are in good shape, wipers are good, brakes properly serviced and snow scraper in the car. We diligently address the mechanics in anticipation of expected winter extremes.  But it’s just as important to prepare ourselves for winter driving. We must be ready to adjust our habits to better face the unpredictable challenges that often come with winter driving.

winter driving

Please consider the following tips before driving during inclement weather:

  • Conduct a pre-trip check. These are extremely important during the winter. Get into the habit of making sure windows and mirrors are clean and wipers are cleared before you start out. Clean all lights; make sure your heater and defroster are working properly. Carry an extra jug of windshield washer fluid.
  • Carry a blanket and/or extra clothing in your vehicle. Pack a water bottle and some high energy food bars in case you become stranded. Always ensure that your cell phone is fully charged prior to heading out.
  • Give yourself plenty of time. A 30-minute trip in good weather conditions may require double or triple that time in poor conditions. Warm up your vehicle so that windows are clear and you’re not looking through an “ice tunnel” in the windshield.
  • Have an exit plan. If conditions become hazardous, get off the road at the nearest exit, gas station or other safe place and wait out the storm. Let someone know where you are.
  • Be prepared to be stranded. In most cases, it’s better to stay with your vehicle. Keep a window cracked for ventilation, and make sure the exhaust system is clear of snow. Ration fuel if faced with the prospect of a long wait for rescue.
  • Beware of “snow hypnosis.” Driving and continuing to stare into onrushing snowflakes can cause a state described as the “1,000-yard stare,” when the eyes become unfocused and mental alertness wanes.
  • Take it easy! If your mind and body are telling you it feels safe at 40 mph, drive at 35 mph. Drive 5 mph below what you think or feel is safe.
  • Make gradual directional and lane changes. Signal well in advance, then slowly complete the maneuver. Extend the distance interval between yourself and the vehicle in front of you; it takes longer to stop in sloppy weather.
  • Pay heed to road conditions. Remember, condensation freezes on bridges, overpasses and shaded areas before the rest of the roadway. Avoid lane changes in these areas as well as in intersection zones.
  • Know your brakes! Antilock (ABS) brakes respond and feel different than standard brakes. If you begin to skid, release the accelerator, and steer in the direction you want to go. Do everything gently and turn the steering wheel as little as possible.
  • Avoid using cruise control where the roads might be slick. Cruise control can apply power suddenly or at the wrong time causing a skid or making a minor skid uncontrollable. If cruise is on and you think the road might be slick, use the hand-operated controls to turn it off; tapping the brakes can initiate a skid.

Find more information in this Checklist and Tips for Safe Winter Driving from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

We here at Barker, Beck, Collins and Kronauge Agency wish you safe driving ahead.  We have two more months of winter before the thaw and spring arrives!

 

Frozen Pipes? First Aid Remedies and Prevention Measures

Winter has only been underway for a month, and there has been plenty of cold weather already, enough to freeze pipes, causing costly water damage at your home or business.  If you suspect you have a frozen pipe, call a qualified plumber immediately.  An indication might be if you’ve turned on the faucet, but no water comes out.  Shut off the main water valve, and leave the faucets open until repairs are made.

Frozen Pipes

If a pipe has burst, take the necessary steps to prevent further damage, and contact your agent here at Barker, Beck, Collins, and Kronauge Agency to file a claim.  Damage from burst water pipes is covered under many homeowner and commercial insurance policies, provided you have taken reasonable precautions as specified by your policy.

You can prevent pipes from freezing by:

  • Maintaining heat to assure temperatures stay above 40 degrees
  • Repairing and sealing windows or doors that could allow cold air to reach indoors
  • Sealing walls and attics to prevent airflow around pipe openings
  • Increasing insulation wherever pipes run
  • Taking special care to monitor water-based fire protection systems
  • Allowing faucets to drip to help prevent freezing if water cannot be turned off and drained

Monitor buildings closely to make sure heating systems are operating. For example, if your commercial building or home is unoccupied for a weekend or other extended period, have someone check your property to ensure that the heating and plumbing systems are working properly. Some monitored alarm systems are capable of providing an alert via email or text when the temperature drops: a possible sign of heating system failure.

Additional tips to Prepare Your Property for Winter are available on our website.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency offers these tips for Winter Storms & Extreme Cold.

The FEMA Snow Load Safety Guidance flyer summarizes warning signs of overstress conditions during a snow event; key safety issues and risks a snow event poses to buildings; and what to do after a snow event.

Auto Insurance 101: Factors that Can Affect Your Premium

When purchasing auto insurance, there are a number of points to consider. It is the most frequently purchased type of personal insurance.  In Ohio, everyone is required to comply with the state’s financial responsibility law.  This law requires drivers to show that they can pay for injuries to other people or damages to other people’s property if the driver causes an accident. Buying insurance is one way to show financial responsibility and the easiest way to comply with the FR law.

red car

According to the Ohio Department of Insurance (ODI), the following factors can have an impact on the premiums you will pay:

  • For starters, auto insurance premiums are linked to the type of vehicle driven. If you’re buying or leasing a new car, check the insurance rates before you make your final choice. For example, SUVs, convertibles and performance vehicles typically cost more to insure than other cars.
  • Safety devices on your car can help reduce your premiums. If you’re buying or leasing a new car, consider getting one with anti-lock brakes, side air bags, automatic seat belts and daytime running lights.
  • Anti-theft devices on your car, such as an alarm system and global positioning system (GPS) – so that your car can be located if stolen – can help reduce your premiums.
  • Where you park your car can also impact premiums. If you have access to an indoor garage or locked parking lot – places that decrease the likelihood that your car will be stolen – you may qualify for lower premiums.
  • The geographic region in which you live may impact your premiums. For example, areas prone to extreme weather – hail, wind storms, hurricanes, etc. – higher    traffic patterns or higher risk of theft may have higher insurance rates.  If you live in an area prone to extreme weather, check whether your policy includes comprehensive coverage on your car to cover potential damage from storms.
  • Your driving record – tickets, accidents, DWIs/DUIs (driving while intoxicated/ driving under the influence citations) – directly affect your premiums.
  • The number of claims you have previously filed impacts your insurance costs. Consider not filing claims for smaller events to avoid premium increases.
  • Finally, the cost of your insurance is linked to your policy’s deductible. The deductible is the amount of money that you agree to pay as part of a claim, before your insurer pays the remaining amount toward that claim.  For example, if your vehicle incurred $1,000 of damage in an accident and your deductible was $250, you would pay the first $250 and your insurer would pay the remaining $750. The higher the deductible, the lower the premium.
  • Another important factor that has a great impact on your insurance premium is your credit score.  A consumer with poor credit can expect to pay higher rates than a person who has good credit.

If you have any questions about purchasing auto insurance or questions with your current coverage, don’t hesitate to call your trusted advisors here at Barker, Beck, Collins and Kronauge Agency.  We’re just a phone call away!

 

Construction Project Success Hinges on Reliable Contractor Selection

If 2014 is the year your family or business is going to begin a construction project, you can help ensure your project’s success by choosing a qualified general contractor. Business owners and homeowners can reduce construction risks by asking a lot of questions up front and weighing several factors before hiring a contractor.  Keep in mind that a building contractor needs to be a business owner first and a contractor second. To be successful with any construction project, the contracted company must properly manage its business.

general-contractor

The Cincinnati Insurance Companies website has several factors to consider when selecting a contractor for your project:

  • Company experience – Examine the contractor’s qualifications and experience; ask for past customer reviews and company history.
  • Current projects and existing workload – Does the contractor have the capacity to give your project the attention it deserves and complete the project in a timely manner? Ask to see a current project list.
  • Financial stability – Ensure that the contractor is on solid financial ground. Make sure the contractor has the appropriate insurance coverage and the financial capacity to be bonded to assure completion of the work. Request audited financial statements or, if you are a business owner, purchase a Dun & Bradstreet report. Be sure to request a copy of the company’s certificate of insurance. The certificate of insurance should list the name of the insurance company (or companies) insuring the contractor, policy numbers, the types of insurance coverages provided by the referenced policy and the policy expiration date.
  • Safety – Find out whether the contractor has effective training and orientation programs for employees. Consider whether management maintains appropriate oversight of the work and ask to see the company’s OSHA logs and safety training records.
  • Quality – Determine whether the contractor has documented programs to assure quality of workmanship and that applicable training is in place. Check for the appropriate manufacturer training certificates or installer credentials.

Identifying these issues can help you determine whether a contractor is a good fit for a particular project. Carefully analyze data submitted by prospective contractors: It would be unwise to rely only on a contractor’s answers without objective verification from other sources, such as listed references or past clients.

Finally, contractors that depend on qualifications-based selections and reputation focus on satisfying their customers. A good contractor knows that future opportunities are based upon performance, service and reputation rather than simply the lowest possible project solution at the cheapest price.

We here at Barker, Beck, Collins, and Kronauge Agency wish you the best success with your construction projects, and don’t hesitate to call us if you have any questions!

 

Our Go! Weekend Pick: Cavalcade of Customs Auto Show in Cincinnati

This weekend will be the perfect time to take in the 54th annual Cavalcade of Customs auto show in Cincinnati, Ohio. The weather is cold and rainy and it will be warm inside with your pick of hot rods, classic and custom cars and trucks to swoon over.

Go Weekend Pick

hot rod truck

This must see event will take place all weekend long at the Duke Energy Convention Center, located in downtown Cincinnati.  The address is 525 Elm Street, Cincinnati, Ohio  45202.  Call 513-419-7300 for tickets or go to their website at http://www.duke-energycenter.com.  The dates and times are as follows:

Friday, January 10, 2014 – 3pm to 10pm

Saturday, January 11, 2014 – 10am to 10pm

Sunday, January 12, 2014 – 10am to 6pm

You can stroll through the convention center gazing upon America’s finest hot rods, customs, trucks, motorcycles and classic cars. Make sure not to miss special appearances by racing legends, Richard & Kyle Petty, wrestling superstar Shawn Michaels and wrestling superstar Chris Jericho.  Freestyle motor cross stunt shows will take place all weekend long.  Click here for show times.

One special event sure to please everyone is Gene Winfield’s Chop Shop. This one-of-a-kind display duplicates “Winfield’s All-American Chop Shop”. Legendary customizer Gene Winfield will chop tops, bend metal and work his magic during live demonstrations all weekend long.

The Cavalcade of Customs is packed full of events and special appearances, so there will be something for everyone in the family.  Make sure you put this on your list of things to do this weekend, and we hope you have a great time!

If you happen to come home with one of these classic cars, you can give us a call here at Barker, Beck, Collins and Kronauge Agency, and we can answer any questions you might have about insuring one of these beautiful vehicles.  Have a great weekend!

Do You Know How to Stay Safe on Icy Roadways?

This January has been bitterly cold so far with temperatures dipping into negative digits.  Snow and ice on the roads have been difficult to manage with such low temperatures.  It would be ideal if you could stay indoors until the critical weather passed, but sometimes you just have to get out.  The key is staying safe when braving the weather and venturing out for necessities.

snow 2 KB.jpg

The following great tips to remember from Icyroadsafety.com can help you avoid the photo above and keep you and your family safe while traveling on snow covered and icy road conditions:

The best advice is to wait for conditions to improve.  There is nothing worse than getting in an accident, so if it is at all possible just stay off the road until the threat passes.

Slow speed ahead!  High speeds make it easy to lose control on ice and snow.  Slowing down below 45 miles per hour when icy roads are a threat is the second best way to avoid an accident.

We do not have the skills to drive at normal speeds on icy roads.   A factor in many serious and fatal crashes is overconfidence in one’s abilities and/or equipment (traction control, antilock brakes, stability control, or good tires).  Some people feel that they have sufficient experience in winter driving, and can therefore continue normally (at or above the speed limit).  However, a fishtail on ice that occurs at highway speeds is usually unrecoverable by even the most quick-witted and experienced drivers. Practicing slow-speed slides in parking lots is useless for what happens to a vehicle at highway speed.  A person who enters a high speed slide will quickly learn that it is something they can’t handle usually when it’s too late.

Wear your seatbelt.  Although wearing your seatbelt should go without saying, during the winter months it is even more critical.  An alarming number of road ice fatalities occur with minor accidents where the vehicle occupants were not wearing seat belts.

Pay attention to the weather.  Listening to the daily weather forecast is a great habit to get in.  Being aware will help you be more prepared.

Go easy on your brakes.  Applying your brakes can trigger slides that result in loss of vehicle control.  ABS antilock brakes do not work well on ice and snow and often will lock up your wheels regardless.  Sliding wheels are uncontrollable, that is, steering input will not change the vehicle’s direction if the wheels are sliding.

Turn into a slide.  Turn your wheels in the direction that the rear of your car is sliding. It helps to look with your eyes where you want the car to go, and turn the steering wheel in that direction. It is easy to steer too far, causing the car to slide in the other direction. This is called overcorrecting, and if this happens, you will need to turn in the opposite direction.

Icy road accidents happen in multiples.  Your own accident is sometimes not the greatest threat to you.  Additional out of control vehicles often are, so if your vehicle is drivable, keep moving.  If it is not, and traffic is approaching, stay in your car.  Once it is safe, get as far off the road and away from traffic as possible.

Don’t stop for accidents or stranded vehicles along an icy roadway.  Being a Good Samaritan is a noble thing, but on an icy road, it can cause more problems than it solves. Parking on the side of an icy highway can cause passing drivers to brake and lose control, putting the lives of everyone involved in danger. Unless the stranded driver is in immediate danger, the best thing you can do is to call 911.  They are equipped to safely block the road or divert traffic while a tow truck can do the job properly.

Since an accident can happen at a moment’s notice, having comprehensive Ohio auto insurance from Barker, Beck, Collins & Kronauge Agency is very important. We can help protect you and your vehicle thoroughly and affordably. Our team strives to meet all your insurance needs while providing top of the line service. Your policy can be designed to include coverage such as uninsured motorist, bodily injury liability, collision and comprehensive, medical injury protection, and much more. Take action now by having this plan so you can remain safeguarded against financial loss.

January is Celebration of Life Month: Consider Life Insurance

Celebration of Life Week, January 1st through the 7th is one of the events and observances sponsored and promoted by the International Society of Friendship and Good Will.  It has also been designed as Celebration of Life Month.  Celebration of Life Month would be a great time to get healthy or stay healthy, be active and never take life for granted.  It’s also a great time to consider the purchase of life insurance.  I hope the following tips for the New Year are helpful to you and your family.

family-weekend

Since it’s the start of a new year, it’s a great time to re-evaluate our life and celebrate it also.  Making a commitment to healthy eating, and staying active can keep us enjoying life for many years to come.  Considering a purchase of life insurance can keep our families enjoying and celebrating life after we are gone.  The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has some points to consider when you are purchasing life insurance.

  1.  Review your own insurance needs and circumstances.  Choose the kind of policy that has benefits that most closely fit your needs.
  2. Be sure that you can handle premium payments.  Can you afford the initial premium?  If the premium increases later, and you still need insurance, can you still afford it?
  3. Don’t sign an insurance application until you review it carefully to be sure all the answers are complete and accurate.
  4. Don’t buy life insurance unless you intend to stick with your plan.  It may be very costly if you quit during the early years of the policy.
  5. Don’t drop one policy and buy another without a thorough study of the new policy and the one you have now.  Replacing your insurance may be costly.
  6. Read your policy carefully.  Ask your agent about anything that is not clear.
  7. Review your life insurance program every few years to keep up with changes in your income and your needs.

Remember that if you have any questions with your current life insurance policy, if you are considering life insurance for the first time, or if you are considering a new purchase, please don’t hesitate to contact your trusted advisors at Barker, Beck, Collins and Kronauge Agency.  We wish you and your family the best of all things in 2014!

And The Winner Is …

Congratulations to Jesse Osborne, the winner of our Facebook Christmas Lights Photo Contest. He won with 35 votes for a picture of the City of Fairborn’s annual Christmas tree. The night photo with falling snow made for a nice effect. Enjoy your prize, a $50.00 Visa gift card!

jesse osborne tree

Be sure to like us on Facebook, and visit our page at https://www.facebook.com/BBCKAgency.  Your friends at Barker, Beck, Collins, and Kronauge Agency wish you a blessed and happy 2014!

 

Who Dey! Bengals-Chargers AFC Playoff This Weekend in Cincinnati

Anyone want to go to a football game?  Our Go! Weekend Pick is the perfect cold weather activity.  Bundle up, venture out to Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio, and join the excitement for the NFL Playoff game between the San Diego Chargers and the Cincinnati Bengals.

Go Weekend Pick

chargersbengals

It should be an electrifying game, because the Chargers earned the final wild card spot in the AFC.  They will be trying to make the most of this opportunity because they are the seven-point underdog going into this game.  Both the Bengals and Chargers enter this game in good form with strong finishes to the regular season.  The Bengals have been forced to go on the road in the playoffs in each of the last two seasons and should relish the chance to play a postseason game at home.

The Bengals had a respectable record this year, representing the AFC North with 11 wins and 5 losses, making them number one for their Conference in the North.  Both teams are hungry for a win so it’s anyone’s guess who will take the prize!

The game will be Sunday, January 5th at 1:05 p.m. at Paul Brown Stadium.  The address appropriately enough is: 1 Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202.  For more information call 513-455-4800 or click here for tickets.  There has been talk of a possible local television blackout of the game, so if you want to be sure to make it, buy a ticket and see it live!

Stay warm, and enjoy a nice big mug of hot chocolate at the game if you go, from your friends here at Barker, Beck, Collins and Kronauge Agency!