Insurance companies felt the bite last year as dog bite cases jumped 18 percent across the country, spurring more than $600 million in claims. Accounting for more than one-third of all homeowner liability claims for 2016, the costs averaged $33,230 per claim.
Whether small or large, furry, cuddly, or playful,most dogs are treated as a member of the family. And homeowners believe their dog is harmless and would never hurt anyone or anything. Yet, even the most docile dogs can bite when frightened, threatened, or defending their owner, puppies, or food.
The Massachusetts General law c. 140 § 155 (otherwise known as the “Dog Bite statute”) is very clear that dog bites are considered liability claims, and, therefore, do not require wrongful or negligent acts on the part of the owner or keeper. The only exception is if the injured person was committing a trespass or other tort, or teasing, tormenting or abusing the dog. But, if the incident involves children under seven-years-old, it’s presumed the child was not committing such acts.
And it’s not just injuries from dog bites that are covered – scratching or knocking people down, either viciously or playfully, as well as damaging property are also liabilities.
Here are some tips:
Train properly. Teach puppies that any contact of their mouth with human skin or clothes is unacceptable, even if they are playing. Create a socialization plan specifically for your dogs that exposes them to the animals, individuals, environments, activities, and objects they are likely to encounter. Take steps to control jumping on others.
Let others know about your dog. If your dog doesn’t like being petted by strangers, take steps to prevent it from happening.
Understand their fears. Oftentimes dogs are aggressive and bite because they are scared. Understand the source of fear and work with them to overcome it.
Get help for behavioral problems. For dogs with special behavioral needs, develop a plan with your veterinarian and/or another animal behavior expert.
Always supervise with children. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, every year, more than 800,000 Americans receive medical attention for dog bites; at least half of them are children. Many children don’t know how to behave with dogs and their sudden movements and acts of affection can frighten dogs and cause them to react by biting.
Place a “Beware of Dog” sign on your property. This won’t get you off the hook if there is an incident, but it places others on notice when approaching your home.
Obey leash laws.
Understand your liability coverage. Contact us if you have any questions.
Summer travel is lots of fun and the last thing you want to happen is theft or identity theft. Here are ways you can help protect yourself:
When it gets into the 80s, we flip on the air conditioning. Chances are it won’t let us down, but, we may pay more than necessary to keep cool if the filter (it’s usually located somewhere on the return duct) hasn’t been changed regularly. A clogged filter can increase your air conditioner’s energy consumption by 5% to 15%. Just slip out the dirty one and replace it with a new filter. Keep a couple on hand to use through the season.
If you’re handy, you can go online for air conditioning maintenance check lists. A few hours of work can help extend the life of your equipment and avoid costly repairs. If not, it’s a good idea to call your heating and air conditioning dealer to have a technician perform an annual check-up. You should receive a list of what was included in the check-up.
With all our gadgets and appliances, it seems there are never enough outlets so we get out the extension cords.Yet, improper use of extension cords is a common cause of home fires. A recent tragic fire in Milton started where an extension cord and space heater were connected.
Here are seven tips to keep you and your family safe:
Get an approved cord. When purchasing an extension cord, be sure a nationally recognized laboratory properly certifies it. Some of these include Underwriters Laboratories (UL), ETL-SEMKO (ETL) and Canadian Standards Association (CSA).
Check that the “load” is suitable for your needs. Demanding too much power from an extension cord risks overheating and fire. Be sure to read all packaging and instructions carefully.
Be careful where you put them. Do not place cords under furniture or rugs, and do not use them in close proximity to flammable material and accelerants such as gasoline. Heat from the cord is not able to escape, which could cause a flame to spark and ignite nearby items.
Don’t daisy chain. Do not plug extension cords into other extension cords. They should not be used this way and doing so, creates a fire risk.
Inspect cords for damage or deterioration to the insulation before use. If a cord is damaged in any way, do not use it. Plugging a damaged extension cord into the electrical system of your home risks the lives of yourself and your loved ones.
Never pull on the cord to unplug an extension cord from the wall socket, since this can cause internal and external damage to the wiring, compromising its structural integrity.
Use extension cords only temporarily, and never with space heaters or air conditioners. Always plug these appliances directly in the wall outlet and keep them three feet from anything that can catch fire.
How to prevent six common homeowners claims from water damage
Water damage is one of the most common reasons people file homeowner policy claims. While homeowners policies generally provide protection if the cause is sudden and accidental (but not normal wear and tear or neglected maintenance), you’d probably prefer not to deal with the inconvenience and the mess.
Here are six examples of claims and how to prevent them:
#1 Washing machine floods
The water supply hoses to your washing machine are typically made of PVC or rubber, which degrades and overtime can crack, rot, and rupture, causing a pressurized geyser of water that will run until the valve is shut off. Tip: To avoid water leaks and possible water damage, replace them with braided hoses.
#2 Bath tub/shower grout and edge leaks
Over time, shower and tub grout or caulking can decay, or cracks can develop. If left untreated, this can lead to serious water damage to walls, flooring and paint. Tip: Frequently inspect and repair seals, calling in a professional if needed. Close shower doors and curtains. Wipe up spills on surrounding areas quickly.
#3 Toilet troubles
Toilet overflows and leaks are common problems, but can cause big trouble if not fixed quickly and properly. Tip: Be attentive.There are numerous spots where leaking can occur-check for cracks in the porcelain as well as standing water around the base. Frequent clogs, constantly running water, and problems flushing are more signs a toilet needs repair.
#4 Refrigerator problems
Water puddling under your refrigerator, a malfunctioning icemaker, or a water dispenser are never good signs. The plastic water plastic lines extending from the back of your fridge can cause extensive kitchen damage in no time. Tip: Look regularly for any leaks, kinks, or clogs in the plastic supply line and signs of moisture or leaking. If uncertain, contact an experienced professional. Be careful not to crimp a water hose or pull it loose when moving the refrigerator.
#5 Dishwasher woes
Several things can cause a dishwasher leak: a leak in the door, a hole in the tub, cracked hoses, and the results can be disastrous. Tip: Every three months, check all hoses for signs of wear and tear and replace as needed. Keep the dishwasher clean. Consumer Reports suggests cleaning the filter once a week or so and sanitize and deodorize by placing a clean bowl with a couple cups of white vinegar toward the center of the bottom rack. Then run the dishwasher on the normal cycle without detergent.
#6 Hot water heater catastrophes
Over time hot water heaters wear out and show signs of malfunction. 69% of failures result from a slow leak or sudden burst. Tip: Regularly inspect the water heater and the pipes around the unit for any signs of leakage, moisture, mold, mineral buildup, and corrosion. Flush the water heater tank twice a year to eliminate sediment buildup. Add a drip pan below the water heater that drains to the outside of the property. Many water heater manufacturers estimate the heaters will need to be replaced in 8 to 12 years, so replacing a unit when it is nearing this age can be good protection against unwanted damage.
There are also water leak detection and shut off systems that can help minimize the damage when a leak occurs. They can be appliance specific or for the whole house, alarm only or smartphone alerting, and complicated or simple. It’s an investment worth investigating.
Renee Pike’s 10 Ways to Lower Home Insurance Costs
1. Raise your deductible.
Deductibles are the amount of money you have to pay toward a loss before your policy coverage begins. Deductibles on homeowners policies typically start at $500. By increasing your deductible to $1,000, you could save up to 24 percent; $2,500, up to 30 percent; and $5,000, up to 37 percent, depending, of course, on your insurance company.
To paraphrase Shakespeare, “To purchase the CDW or not to purchase the CDW, that is the question.” It has been debated for years whether or not a person renting a vehicle should purchase the Collision (or Loss) Damage Waiver from the rental company. Our recommendation is that consumers, in general, SHOULD purchase
the CDW/LDW, at least for short-term rentals. Our reasons are given below.
1. Loss Valuation. The Personal Auto Policy (PAP) covers the lesser of the “actual cash value” of the vehicle or the amount “necessary” to repair or replace the damaged property. The rental agreement may very well contractually obligate you to reimburse the rental company for the “full value” of the vehicle. The PAP also does not pay for any “betterment” (increased value of new parts replacing old ones) of the vehicle, nor any “diminution” of value (if the market value of the vehicle after repairs is less than that before the accident).
What’s a PUP?
“PUP” stands for Personal Umbrella Policy, which provides an extra layer of very affordable liability protection for your personal assets and future earnings.
ACCIDENTS HAPPEN. That’s why people have insurance. However, if you aren’t protected by a personal umbrella policy, you could be putting your house or your financial assets at risk.
A personal umbrella policy substantially increases your overall liability coverage beyond the basic coverage provided under your homeowners and auto insurance policies. This low-cost policy is designed to protect you and your family against a catastrophic lawsuit or judgment.