Wildfire Prevention in Olympia, WAWildfires occur every year and summer season is also known as fire season. Each year millions of acres across the country are scorched by both nature as well as human caused fire. By knowing how to minimize losses, human caused fires can drastically decrease with the proper education. Use these simple steps.

Equipment or toys can spark a wildfire

Lawn mowers, weed-eaters, chain saws, welders, tractors, dirt bikes, and more can all cause sparks. Don’t mow dry grass or weeds. When you are maintaining your yard, avoid dry yard debris buildup.

If you are using a tractor, dirt bike or welder, avoid driving or using your welder near dry grass or brush.

Keeping your Home Safe from Wildfire Damage

Use fire-resistant building material for your home.

The roof and exterior surface need to be composed of non-combustible or fire resistant materials. This would include brick, stone, aluminum, tile, sheet iron, asphalt or slate. If your home is composed of wood or cedar, consider this a risk. Homes that are located in especially fire prone areas can escape damage by being entirely built of concrete and stone.

Maintain Your Roof

When your roof is filled with leaves, pine needles, branches, moss, you are increasing your risk for wildfire damage. Be sure to avoid letting these items collect on your roof.

Keep your Property Free of Dead Plants or Trees

Tree branches should be kept to a height of 15 feet.  Also, be sure tree branches aren’t near your chimney. If a branch is within 10 feet of the flue opening of the stove or chimney, remove it.

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.

It is important to understand the limits of your insurance policies as many natural disasters like floods or earthquakes require a special insurance policy while wildfires are 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 or if a fire station is far away.

If you have questions about your home, auto or commercial insurance, call the insurance agents at Cross Insurance Agency. They have locations throughout Washington State in Olympia, Centralia, Vancouver and Marysville. They have years of insurance experience and can help you insure everything from your home to your auto or business Insurance. They live where you do and are an independent insurance agent, so they can help you find the right company to fit your needs. You can also check out their website, 24/7.

Two Ways to Construct a List

Home Inventory Checklist in Olympia, WAFor most of us, we won’t have to experience a disastrous home loss such as a flood, fire, earthquake or other disaster. That doesn’t mean any of us should be less prepared for such an event should one occur. Preparing a home inventory can be a large task, but taking the time to do so can make a difference of thousands of dollars when it comes to your claims settlement as well as simple ease of processing your claim.

For many of us, where we live symbolizes us and what is in that house symbolizes our lives. Our belongings represent our memories, personal style and even investments that hold significant value such as art.  When you add up how much all of your personal items are worth, it can be a substantial figure into the many 10s of thousands of dollars or more.

Home insurance claims from disasters such as flood or fire are traumatic. A home inventory checklist can help you remember quickly what items you had. Would you recall exactly how many pairs of jeans you had and what brand they were? Would you recall how many pairs of shoes you had or what brands they were? What about art? Could you recall the name of the artist and how much you paid for it?

Taking the time to inventory your home can be useful in the event of theft or damage to the contents of your home. Keep track of your items with this easy to use chart! You can even attach photos of your items and quickly send this chart to your insurance agent to help speed up the claims process. Another way to document is with a thorough video or video series. Be sure to store your home inventory checklist in a safe place like in the cloud.

The good news is your insurance agent likely gave you sufficient coverage for your personal property. If you feel like you need more, be sure to tell your agent. Home, renters and condo insurance policies typically come standard with this coverage.

If you have questions about your home, auto or commercial insurance, call the insurance agents at Cross Insurance Agency. They have locations throughout Washington State in Olympia, Centralia, Vancouver and Marysville. They have years of insurance experience and can help you insure everything from your home to your auto or business Insurance. They live where you do and are an independent insurance agent, so they can help you find the right company to fit your needs. You can also check out their website, 24/7.

Flood Insurance and Sewer Backup Insurance – Not the same thing.

Flood Insurance and Sewer Backup Coverage in Olympia, WAFloods are the most devastating natural disaster in the United States each year causing billions in losses and displacing thousands. While flooding is a common concern for those near rivers and streams, all homes in the United States can be caught off-guard by floods. When it comes to flood insurance, it is important to understand what flood insurance is and what is covered. Many people think flood insurance is anything to do with water in their home. This is far from the truth. Floods are defined as surface water that enters your home from the outside – not to be confused with a leaky roof or a broken pipe, loose toilet or other plumbing related issue. Another issue altogether is sewer backup with may or may not be covered depending on what caused it to occur.

Let’s take a closer look at these policies:

Flood Insurance: Flood insurance covers your property and contents from damages that occur when water from outside the home enters the home. Beit a heavy rainstorm, a clogged drain in the street or even a hurricane that causes a tidal surge that backs up streams and rivers.

  • Cost: According to floodsmart.gov, the average flood insurance policy costs around $700 a year. Depending on your area and whether you’re in a flood prone area, your costs can be higher or lower.
  • What’s covered: The typical flood insurance policy will cover your building and the contents. Be sure to discuss contents coverage with your agent to ensure you have enough coverage. The price of the policy will be largely determined by how valuable your items are and how much coverage you need.
  • When to buy: Flood insurance requires a 30 day waiting period. The best time to buy a flood insurance policy is as soon as you decide you want it.

Water & Sewer Backup Coverage: Sewage backup insurance is not included with a standard homeowner’s insurance policy. Sewage backup occurs for many reasons, but ultimately, what is happening is there is a blockage that causes water to reverse course and push up into your sinks, bathtubs or other outlets. This can be a smelly, filthy event and one you want to be sure to discuss with your agent. Believe it or not, this is a somewhat common occurrence.

  • Cost: Cost always varies, but typically a sewer backup endorsement will run you under $100. Be sure to ask your agent about different policy options.
  • What’s covered: You purchase specific amounts of covers, such as $10,000 or $15,000. This helps cover the cost of cleaning the damage caused from the backup as well as replacing carpets, drywall, and even cleaning or replacing ducts.
  • When to buy: Water and sewage backup occurs everywhere. There is no real good indicator or when this event will occur, so protecting early is critical.

We understand insurance is confusing, so if you still have questions, feel free to call one of our licensed agents and ask to speak about flood or sewage backup coverage.

If you have questions about your insurance, call the insurance agents at Cross Insurance Agency. They have locations throughout Washington State in Olympia, Centralia, Vancouver and Marysville. They have years of insurance experience and can help you insure everything from your home to your auto or business Insurance. They live where you do and are an independent insurance agent, so they can help you find the right company to fit your needs. You can also check out their website, 24/7.

Be Prepared with a Custom-Built Supplies Kit.

How to Put Together a Disaster Kit in Olympia, WAFall is a great time to consider disaster preparedness and to take a look at your family’s emergency kit. While disasters can happen anywhere, whether natural or man-made, it is important that your family be prepared.

For many, the thought of having a disaster preparedness kit in their home seems silly and unnecessary. The fact of the matter is that every state in our country is susceptible to a natural disaster such as an earthquake, tornado or hurricane, flood or even a volcanic eruption. Preparing for one of these events can be quick and inexpensive, but also a great time to educate your family about safety during one of these events.

The basic home preparedness kit, according to ready.gov should include:

  • Water – 1 gallon per person, per day. Minimum 3 day supply.
  • Food – non-perishable food such as canned tuna, canned fruits & vegetables, nuts, dried fruit, low sodium crackers, soups. Also, dry mixes that do not require refrigeration. Store food in tightly closed containers to extend it’s shelf life and protect from pests. Change food & water supplies every six months to keep fresh supplies.
  • Battery powered radio for emergency information
  • Flashlight with extra sets of batteries. (Consider an LED flashlight that requires much less energy to use)
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust masks, plastic sheeting and duct tape to seal off an area from contaminants
  • Moist towelettes for simple hygiene
  • A manual can opener and pocket knife
  • Cell phone w/ solar charger of some sort

Additional items could include prescription medicines, diapers, pet food and blankets. Keep this kit in a designated area where your entire family can easily find it.

If you have questions about your home, auto or commercial insurance, call the insurance agents at Cross Insurance Agency. They have locations throughout Washington State in Olympia, Centralia, Vancouver and Marysville. They have years of insurance experience and can help you insure everything from your home to your auto or business Insurance. They live where you do and are an independent insurance agent, so they can help you find the right company to fit your needs. You can also check out their website, 24/7.

Does my Insurance Cover this?

Tornado Insurance in Olympia, WAEvery state in our country can have a tornado, hurricane or suffer from a severe windstorm, so understanding that your home is protected with the right insurance to cover this type of loss is critical. Browse your policy or call your agent before an event is forecast because once a storm is coming, insurance companies will freeze new coverage from being bound in time for the event.

Your standard homeowners policy likely covers it (except in hurricane prone states like Louisiana, Texas, Florida and Hawaii)

While there are exceptions to every rule, the industry typically covers your home from certain perils such as windstorms, fire and theft. One of the common perils covered is wind damage which will include tornadoes, hurricanes and other high-wind events. So, typically you will be covered from these events, less your deductible, should such an event occur in your state.

What if it isn’t on my standard policy?

If Hurricane Insurance isn’t on your standard insurance policy, there are endorsements and other companies who you can get the coverage from. Same with states that have high likelihood of tornadoes. Be sure to check the fine print!

There is an exception to every rule

The best way to ensure you’re covered is to ask your insurance agent or company directly. There are policies that exist that will exclude this coverage, so be sure to check. Also, be sure that your internal contents are covered (personal property) and not just the home itself. If you own a home in the central part of the US (Tornado Alley) double check for coverage as it is common to have this loss be excluded.

There is always a company willing to give you this coverage

The beauty of shopping with an independent insurance agent is that they offer coverage from multiple insurance companies, not just one, so if one company doesn’t offer it, another one they sell will. Endorsing this coverage is potentially another possibility.

One last thing to note

Often large windstorms will trigger flooding events from either pushing in tides or be accompanied by heavy rains. It is important to understand that these events are not covered by a windstorm, tornado or hurricane coverage. You will need a separate flood insurance policy to cover you from water that damages a home even if the first event was the cause of the rising waters.

With anything insurance, the best answers that can be provided to your specific questions come from your local insurance agent. These agents are able to provide you with a certain, yes or no when it comes to coverage. Because they live where you do, they can help you assess the best coverage for your specific situation.

If you have questions about your home, auto or commercial insurance, call the insurance agents at Cross Insurance Agency. They have locations throughout Washington State in Olympia, Centralia, Vancouver and Marysville. They have years of insurance experience and can help you insure everything from your home to your auto or business Insurance. They live where you do and are an independent insurance agent, so they can help you find the right company to fit your needs. You can also check out their website, 24/7.

 

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 Cross Insurance 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 Cross Insurance Agency in Olympia, 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.

Unlike some natural disasters, earthquakes are extremely difficult to predict. There are several regions in the U.S. that are at higher risk than others for having the “big one” and we just happen to live in one of them. Depending on the depth, intensity and duration, an earthquake can do significant damage to a home or condo.

This type of damage is not typically covered on a basic homeowner’s or condo insurance policy and only about 10 percent of homeowners purchase earthquake coverage. In this instance an earthquake insurance policy in Olympia, WA may be a smart move.

Earthquakes and Washington:

  • Quaking ground: Earthquakes can be brought on by many factors. The movement of a tectonic plate in a subduction zone, the slipping of rock on a strike-slip fault line, a volcanic eruption or it can be triggered by an external factor, like drilling or mining. Generally the deeper the location of the earth’s movement, the stronger the earthquake, however, the shallower it is makes it more destructive. Earthquakes that occur along coast lines can be even more destructive as an earthquake can trigger a tsunami. Here in Olympia, Washington, we are close to the Cascadia Subduction Zone. The CSZ is lengthy fault that runs from Vancouver Island in Canada all the way into Northern California, separating the Juan de Fuca plate from the North American plate. This particular fault has produced some damaging earthquakes, most recently in February 2001 when the Nisqually earthquake shook the Puget Sound region, had a recorded magnitude of 6.8 and caused about $2 billion in damages.
  • Dwelling damage: Damage from an earthquake can range from a few easily repairable cracks in the drywall of a home, to a complete failure of the structural integrity of a home. A homeowner may need to higher inspectors, structural engineers, a contractor and the list goes on. Not to mention that a family whose home was damaged in an earthquake will need a safe place to stay until the home is repaired. If the family does not have an earthquake insurance policy, they may be responsible for paying all repair costs out of pocket. These costs can often be thousands of dollars.
  • Earthquake Insurance: An earthquake insurance policy helps cover damages and additional living expenses up to a certain dollar amount. The policy cost and the amount of the deductible may vary depending on a number of factors including, but not limited to: Age of the home, distance from a fault line, location of the home (hillside, soil type, etc.) and the type of policy either Standard or Comprehensive. The monthly cost for an earthquake insurance policy can range from a few hundred dollars a year to a few thousand dollars a year depending on your location. If you or the previous owners retrofitted the home for an earthquake by securing the home to the foundation with seismic bolts or reinforcing walls or chimneys, you may be entitled to a lower earthquake insurance policy cost.

Before purchasing a home or condo, it’s important to remember to talk to your licensed insurance agent in Olympia, WA to see if you might need an earthquake insurance policy. The experts Cross Insurance Agency in Olympia, Washington have years of insurance experience that can save you a bundle. Plus they live right in your area, so know first-hand if you may need additional insurance such as flood insurance.  You can also visit their insurance website 24/7 to learn more about the other insurance products Cross Insurance Agency offers.

 

 

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 Olympia, 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 Olympia, WA to ensure that wildfire insurance is included in the comprehensive section for your homeowner’s insurance policy. Cross Insurance Agency in Olympia, 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.

 

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 Olympia, 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 Olympia, WA. Cross Insurance Agency in Olympia, 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.