Winter Safety Guide

Thermostat

We’re officially in one of the most dreaded winter weather months — February. Historically, this month is infamous for heavy storms, frozen roadways, and the risk of dangerous conditions. In the coming days we know it is likely that temperatures will drop drastically. As you prepare for the cold, brush up on these safety tips.

Staying Warm and Avoiding Frostbite

  • Dress warmly in several layers of clothing—wear boots, gloves, or mittens and a hat when going outside.
  • Limit time outside for infants as they lose heat quickly.
  • Make sure to protect your pets and ensure they are not exposed to extreme temperatures.
  • Use the “buddy system” to monitor your physical reaction to the cold if you are going to be outdoors for an extended period of time.

Preparing your home

  • During extreme cold weather to prevent spot freezes in your house, thermostats should be turned up to at least 65 degrees.   The temperature inside the walls where the pipes are located is substantially colder than the walls themselves.  A temperature lower than 65 degrees might not keep the pipes inside the walls from freezing. Feel your baseboards to see if they are warm, if they are, they are working properly.
  • The use of woodstoves or pellet stoves which heat in one area of the home could cause spot freezes in other sections of your house during extreme cold weather.  It is best that you use your central heating system during this extreme cold weather.
  • Make sure you CO2 detectors have fresh batteries.
  • Sealing any drafts is the first step to keeping the inside of your home warm and the cold weather out. Doors and windows can leak heat 24/7, but weather-stripping will give you an added layer of protection.
  • Ensure all windows, storm windows and doors are closed; add insulation to prevent drafts.
  • Open cabinets and doors under sinks or where plumbing exists.
  • Turn off water to outside faucets and spickets, and open valves to let them drain. Allow hot and cold faucets in kitchen and bath to drip or single control faucet in the middle. Know the location of your water shut off valve for your home. If a pipe freeze does occur, call a plumber, and keep the faucet open when thawing to allow water to flow. If a plumber is not available, gradually warm the pipe to restore flow.
  • Make sure your fireplace, chimney, and furnace are all working properly in order to keep your home safe while heating it.
  • Close your fireplace flue when you are not using it.
  • Check current oil level, order fuel if necessary.
  • Insulate exposed pipes (both hot and cold), especially under house, with foam insulation.
  • Clean your gutters to avoid ice forming in them. Keep a roof rake on hand and clear excessive snow from the roof to prevent ice dams and avoid collapse if excessive amounts of snow fall.
  • Reverse your ceiling fans to help distribute heat through the house.
  • If a generator is used as backup, confirm it is operational and fuel is secured and stored properly.
  • Check on your elderly neighbors.
  • Check on any secondary or rental exposures to utilize the same loss prevention techniques as noted above.
  • Have some important essentials in your home as a Winter Preparedness Kit in the case that you may need them:
    • Flashlights and batteries
    • Battery operated radio
    • Bottled water
    • Medications and first aid kit
    • Blankets, warm clothes, and heating alternatives
    • Non-perishable foods.

Preparing your vehicle

  • If you can, fill up your gas tank.
  • Make sure you have the proper tires for icy conditions.
  • Having some important essentials in your car as well is also key:
    • Jumper Cables
    • Flashlight
    • First Aid Kit
    • Shovel
    • Ice Scraper
    • Warm Clothes
    • Hand Warmers
    • Blankets

Preparing your business

  • Freezing temperatures could force businesses to close down for several days. Investing in generators can help to ensure businesses will have constant power.
  • The ability to make arrangements to allow employees to work from home can help keep businesses operating if commuting becomes unsafe. If your employees still have to drive, remind them to take additional caution due to the winter weather. Drive slowly, give extra time to stop and change direction, bridges can be icy when other road surfaces are not, do not use cruise control during slippery conditions.
  • It is always helpful to ensure that there is adequate business coverage, including loss of business income, to help in the case of these events.
  • Here are some additional important things to note on winter preparation for your business:
    • Ensure the thermostat is set to at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit in all areas to keep pipes from freezing.
    • Turn off water to outside faucets and spickets, and open valves to let them drain. Allow hot and cold faucets in kitchen and bath to drip or single control faucet in the middle. Know the location of your water shut off valve for your home. If a pipe freeze does occur, call a plumber, and keep the faucet open when thawing to allow water to flow. If a plumber is not available, gradually warm the pipe to restore flow.
    • Open cabinets and doors under sinks or where plumbing exists.
    • Review winter storm contingencies and have alternative power options like generators.
    • Set expectation with employees and keep them informed.
    • If you are a landlord, you may want to send the information regarding preparing your home to tenants to keep them and the property safe as well.
    • Follow weather updates.
    • Add ice melt to sidewalks and periodically clear them to keep up with snow accumulation.
    • Add non-slip mats and fans for water removal by building entrances.
    • Hire a snow/ice removal service.
    • Repair any defects in sidewalks and walkways.
    • Inspect building insulation.
    • Add new tires to the business auto fleet.
    • Stay up to date on vehicle maintenance.
    • Maintain the roof of your building.

For all the things you value – if you have a claim, our Patrons Oxford claims specialists will be here for you.

International Snowmobile Safety Week is Here

Person on a snow scooter

Are you one of the estimated 53,000 US residents who purchased a snowmobile this year? You’re in good company! With over 1.3 million registered snowmobiles in the country, this pastime is growing in popularity every year!

With popularity comes a greater responsibility for safety on your rides. That’s what International Snowmobile Safety Week is all about! This year, January 21st– 28th, we at Patrons Oxford Insurance would like to remind our agents and policyholders of the obligation snowmobile riders have in keeping our trails safe for all.

Some tips to keep in mind when hitting the trails:

  • Don’t drink alcohol and ride
  • Keep your machine in working order
  • Never ride alone
  • Come to a complete stop before crossing roads/trails
  • Remember the basic hand signals for making stops and turns
  • Dress appropriately
  • Stay on marked trails only
  • Be aware of darkness, water/ice, and your surroundings in general.
  • Follow all state rules/regulations

To see these and other snowmobile tips, visit the International Snowmobile Manufactures Association website.

Patrons Oxford Insurance values the safety of our agents and policyholders alike. Take care this riding season!

Halloween Safety Tips

The leaves are changing and temperatures are dropping, which can only mean one thing — fall is officially here! And while your children may be filled with excitement as they count down the days to Halloween, we understand that as parents, this holiday can be a bit more stressful than fun. According to a national survey conducted by Safe Kids Worldwide, 77% of parents have Halloween-related fears, from pedestrian injuries to eating unsafe Halloween treats. ,We want to help you make this holiday safe and fun for everyone, which is why we’ve put together this guide full of tips to get you through costume planning and decorating to a night of trick-or-treating.

Costumes

Costumes are a big part of Halloween, but before you and your child decide on the superhero or lion outfit, here are some things to consider:

  • How visible is your child when they are in their costume? Will motorists be able to see them and will you be able to quickly identify them in a crowd?
  • Is the costume obstructing your child’s vision in any way?
  • Is the material flame-retardant?
  • Does it fit well or does it create a risk for trips and falls?

It’s important to ask yourself these questions when helping your child pick out their costume. Costumes that are bright and visible to motorists, flame-retardant, and are short enough to prevent tripping or entanglement can all help your little one have a safe Halloween.

In addition to these safety precautions, if your child’s costume comes with accessories, you’ll want to make sure those accessories are all flame-resistant as well. If a sword or cane is a part of your child’s costume, make sure it is not sharp or long, as they may be easily hurt by these if they were to trip and fall. It is also recommended to avoid costumes with masks as they limit or block eyesight. Safer alternatives include non-toxic makeup or decorative hats.

Trick-Or-Treating

When going on the neighborhood rounds, a parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children. If your children are old enough to trick-or-treat without adult supervision, they should stick to a familiar route in a well-lit area. But whether you’ll be accompanying your child or they’ll be going door-to-door with their friends, safety should always be the top priority. Here are some reminders to discuss with your trick-or-treaters:

  • Travel in groups and communicate a plan of where you’ll be going.
  • Always use the sidewalk if available.
  • Only go to homes with lights on and never enter a home or car.
  • Don’t cut across yards.
  • Cross the street at intersections using crosswalks.
  • Be mindful of cars.

Food Safety

After a successful night of trick-or-treating, children return home with bags filled with candy and treats. Although tampering with treats is rare, a responsible adult should go through all treats and dispose of any unwrapped, spoiled, or suspicious treats. It’s also recommended to steer clear of any home-made goodies as you don’t know what ingredients they could contain. If your child has food allergies, be sure to read the ingredients labels of all treats. Often times, fun-sized or miniature versions of candy bars contain different ingredients. If you are passing out treats, it’s also a good idea to have alternative options for children with allergies as candy often contains common allergens such as peanuts, milk, soy, or wheat.

Pumpkin Carving

A big part of getting into the Halloween spirit is carving silly or scary faces into a big, round pumpkin. But before getting messy, brush up on these important reminders to keep your little ones safe:

  • Small children should never carve pumpkins.
  • Consider using a flashlight or glow stick to illuminate your pumpkin.
  • Never leave a lit pumpkin unattended.

Small children can easily hurt themselves when handling sharp carving tools. It is best if they participate by drawing the design and having the parents do the carving. Another alternative is decorating the pumpkin with paint and other craft materials. When it comes to illuminating your masterpiece, consider flameless candles or glow sticks for a more fire safe alternative. If you choose to use a candle, a votive candle is the safest — just make sure you never leave your lit Jack O’Lantern unattended. You’ll also want to place your pumpkin on a sturdy surface away from flammable objects.

Halloween is a time filled with dressing up, eating treats, and making memories.  We want the holiday to remain that way and hope these tips help you make Halloween memorable for all the right reasons!

We hope these safety tips help keep you and your family safe this Halloween season. To learn more about our products & services or to find a local agent near you, please visit our website: https://patrons.com/index.htm? 

Guide to Water Safety

Being a coastal state, swimming is one of the top summer activities to do here in Maine. From the ocean to lakes, rivers, and pools, taking a dip is an easy way to beat the heat and stay cool. However, like many outdoor activities, it also poses a lot of risks if you don’t remain alert and take precautions. According to the Center for Disease Control, there are 3,536 unintentional drownings per year in the United States. Water-related accidents are the second leading cause of injury or death for children between 1-14 years old and the fifth leading cause for individuals of all ages.

Here are some of the best ways to keep you and your loved ones safe.

General Water Safety

Swim lessons: The first step in water safety is to enroll children in swimming lessons early on. Drowning risk can decrease as much as 88% for children 1-4 years old if they have taken swimming lessons. Even adults can benefit from a swim lesson refresher if it’s been a while since they’ve been in a body of water.

Learn CPR: The Red Cross offers CPR classes across the country, and being certified could end up being the difference between life or death in the event of an accident. Parents and kids should learn the basics of CPR and know the proper procedure to help build confidence and the skills needed in a life-saving situation.

Supervise children: If they’re in your backyard pool, at a public pool, in a lake or at the beach, children should always be supervised. Even if there is a lifeguard on duty, it’s crucial to keep an eye on your kids and know where they are at all times. If you have to step away, even for a second, instruct kids to get out of the water or designate a responsible adult to supervise them until you return.

Never swim alone: Even for experienced swimmers, it’s recommended that you never swim alone. In the event of an emergency such as exhausted muscles or accidental injury, having someone else with you who can help you or call for help if needed may help save your life.

Avoid alcohol: Alcohol can impair your ability to swim properly and can also inhibit your response time in the event that something happens to someone you’re supervising. Avoiding alcohol will help reduce impaired judgment and balance and keep your mind alert for any potential issues.

Swimming Pool Safety

Install proper barriers: All pools should be protected with a four-foot or taller fence that has a self-closing and latching gate. Safety alarms that will alert you if someone or something falls through the surface of the water should also be considered if your home opens directly to a pool area. You can also consider using a pool cover when your pool is not in use as an added layer of protection.

Empty portable pools if not in use: Children can drown in as little as two inches of water. If you have a portable or inflatable pool to cool off on hot, humid days, be sure to drain the water when not in use and when there is no supervision.

Keep kid’s toys out of the pool when not in use: Toys can often draw children into the pool, even if they’re simply trying to reach them. Store them out of sight when you are not actively using your pool to help avoid any temptation.

Have lifesaving equipment handy: Life jackets, life-rings and poles can all be used to help reach anyone who might be struggling to swim. From kids to adults, anything can happen, and having these kinds of resources in close reach can help prevent a tragedy.

Follow pool rules: The rules at public pools are implemented for a reason. Follow common rules such as no running, no diving and no horseplay to help avoid an accident. Also, consider implementing pool rules at your own home for your children, such as never swimming alone.

River, Lake and Ocean Safety

Swim in view of lifeguards: According to The United States Lifesaving Association, a person’s chance of drowning at a beach protected by trained lifeguards is less than 1 in 18 million per year. If a lifeguard can’t see you, then they also can’t save you. Staying within their view can save your life. They will also be able to alert you to any potential hazards in the water that you should avoid.

Check conditions before you go in: Check conditions before you enter the water. Many public beaches, for example, use a flag system to indicate potential hazards. If these indicate that water conditions are unsafe, heed these warnings and stay out of the water. You can also check with the lifeguard on duty to ensure conditions are safe for swimming.

Only swim in designated areas: Bodies of water are often marked by ropes or buoys to help keep swimmers within safe areas. Oftentimes, these dividers keep swimmers away from areas with rocks, strong currents, weeds and other hazards that may be difficult to see from the shore.

Know your limits: Open water swimming can be much more taxing on the body than swimming in a pool. The water is colder, currents are stronger and conditions can change quickly. Even the strongest swimmers can tire quicker, so it’s important to know your limits.

Having knowledge of safe swimming habits is key when it comes to water safety. Being prepared and educating your children early on about swimming safety will help keep them safe and keep your mind at ease.

We hope these tips help keep you safe all summer long. To learn more about our coverage options or to find an agent near you, please visit our website. https://patrons.com/index.htm? 

Preventing Common Winter Home Hazards

Now that winter is in full swing, we want to remind you of some of the risks that come with the season. In addition to outdoor hazards and snowstorms, spending more time at home over the next couple of months can also increase your risk of an accident.

Fortunately, there are some quick fixes you can do and a few maintenance check-ins to help reduce your risk of experiencing a problem in the coming months. Here are some common winter hazards and how to avoid them.

Falls

Inside and outside your home, falls can lead to a hospital visit and/or expensive legal fees if you’re hit with a lawsuit. Wet surfaces, uneven staircases, and items left on the floor can all lead to a broken bone or head injury. To help reduce your risk, make sure to do the following:

  • Secure staircases — This includes installing solid handrails, fixing loose boards, having adequate lighting at night, and keeping salt or sand on hand in the event of snowstorms. If you have small children, you should also have safety gates at the top and bottom of the stairs.
  • Keep hallways and walkways clean — Always clean up toys and items left on the floor in the way of foot traffic. In the winter, be especially careful to shovel walkways and salt any icy patches.
  • Cover surfaces prone to pooling water  — If you frequently track water inside from your shoes, make sure to have a mat in front of the door to avoid slipping.

Fires

According to the National Fire Protection Association, there are an average of 379,600 residential fires in the United States per year. Many of these fires could have been prevented through safe practices and preparedness. Take these steps to help reduce your risk of loss or injury from a fire:

  • Install fire alarms on all levels of your home.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher handy in your kitchen and any room with a fireplace.
  • Blow out all candles before you leave the room or go to sleep.
  • Unplug appliances you’re not using.
  • Turn off holiday lights before leaving the house or going to sleep.
  • Have your fireplace cleaned before using it for the winter and only run it if you’re in the room.
  • Keep space heaters away from flammable objects and never leave them running unattended.

Along the same lines as fire prevention, you should also be mindful of carbon monoxide risks in the winter. Even low exposure can result in headaches and dizziness. It’s virtually undetectable by sight or smell so having a working carbon monoxide detector is your best solution to keeping your family safe.

Frozen Pipes

Frozen pipes are one of the most common problems homeowners face in the winter and can also be one of the most costly. Before the frigid temps hit, be sure to:

  • Drain and remove outdoor hoses.
  • Insulate areas in direct contact with attics, basements, and crawl spaces.
  • Identify areas of your home that have exposed water pipes.
  • Make sure your thermostat doesn’t dip below 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Have someone look in on your house if you’re going to be gone for an extended period of time.

You can learn more about how to prevent and treat frozen pipes here.

Ice Dams

Not only is ice a hazard on your walkways, it also puts you at risk for ice dams. These will damage the interior of your home and cause major water damage in your attic and on your ceilings. A few things you can do to help reduce your risk is to make sure your gutters are cleaned before the first snowfall and install roof heating cables if your home is prone to ice dams.

Guide To Water Loss Prevention

Nor’easters, floods, and burst pipes are likely what come to mind when you think of water loss and damage to your home. However, there are a number of other factors that can result in costly insurance claims. Even on the most beautiful, summer day, a leaky faucet or overflowing dishwasher can wreak havoc on your home and cause water loss invisible to the eye. According to the Environmental Protection Association, American households have an average of 10,000 gallons of water wasted every year, with 10% of them losing at least 90 gallons per day. To help you stay ahead of any potential damage and limit your risk, our team at Patrons Oxford has put together a home guide to water loss prevention. 

Common Risk Factors

Aside from weather-related water damage and loss, here are a few culprits that could be detrimental to your home:

  • Water heater — Without regular maintenance and repair, rusting can lead to deterioration, ultimately causing leaks. 
  • Dishwashers, washing machines, refrigerators — Each of these appliances have one or more hoses that can come loose or leak. If this happens, you can experience a slow leak that you won’t notice until too much damage has already been done. 
  • Leaky faucets — While a leaking faucet may not cause major damage, it can often go unnoticed for long periods of time leading to significant water loss. 

How to prevent water loss and damage

The best way to protect your home is to know exactly where your risks lie and take the necessary precautions to prevent them. In fact, water loss is considered one of the most preventable large loss peril according to LexisNexis. Here are a few low-cost ways to do just that:

  • Know where your main water shutoffs are located and install water shutoff valves on water lines under sinks and toilets and water lines leading to outside faucets.
  • Repair small leaks around water heaters, refrigerators, dishwashers, and other appliances before they become a problem.
  • Understand and follow the recommended maintenance procedures for your appliances, such as periodically draining the water heater. If needed, have a professional come to inspect your appliances thoroughly.
  • Check dishwasher and washing machine hoses for signs of deterioration and replace hoses that show any evidence of cracking.
  • Before you leave home for an extended period of time, remember to shut off the water valve to any strong flowing sources.
  • Run plenty of water when using your garbage disposal so it won’t clog and cause a leak or a crack.
  • When a problem does occur, hire a reputable contractor who will appropriately repair the damage.
  • Never leave the room after you’ve turned a water source, especially a bathtub or sink.

In addition to these low-cost preventative measures, new technology also offers a number of ways to identify and prevent water loss throughout your home. Thanks to advances in smart home technology, automatic shut-offs and alarms can alert you to a leak before it becomes a problem. Data has shown a strong correlation between households that have installed leak detection and shutoff devices and reduced water leak claim frequency and severity. While technology such as this is being developed more and more every day, studies have shown that they seem to be with the investment.

We hope this guide to water loss prevention helps keep your home insurance claims at bay. Visit our website to find an agent near you who is ready to answer all your insurance questions. https://patrons.com/find-agent.htm

How an Insurance Company Works – From the Perspective of an Intern

As a 21 year old soon-to-be college senior, I have always been told that insurance was essential and I would nod my head in agreement even though I had no idea how it worked.  The extent of my knowledge of insurance was that you pay a predetermined amount of money to a company every month and in the event that you had some kind of accident, they would be able to cover it for you.  In a nutshell, yes, this description is accurate but there is much more that goes on during that process.  My objective is to explain how an insurance company works in the simplest way possible so that everyone understands.

Underwriting

The underwriters of an insurance company are the ones responsible for writing policies for clients.  Their job is to determine which clients to take on and how much coverage they will offer them.  They also determine the premium – the amount of money to charge – during the duration of the policy.  The premium is determined by the amount of risk that the underwriter is deciding to insure.  For example, a house that was built in the 1960s with old wiring and old shingles will cost much more to insure than a brand new house.  This is because the potential for a major property loss is much greater with the older house.  This example might seem obvious, but much more goes into the underwriting process.  Factors such as the distance to the nearest fire station, the presence of a pool, or the age of the residents in the house all play a role in determining the premium.

To ensure that they have a good understanding of the asset that they’re insuring, underwriters can order inspections.  These inspections are conducted by professionals and the reports that they write are sent to the underwriter.  If the underwriter sees any policy violations they can contact the insured individual to correct those issues, and if they decline to cooperate then the underwriter can issue a cancellation or they can non-renew the policy.

Overall, the underwriters are the ones who are responsible for writing the appropriate amount of coverage to the insured clients, while at the same time collecting enough premium so that the company has enough money to pay the claims that they receive.

Claims

The claims department is responsible for processing and paying claims made by insured customers.  Put simply, the claims adjusters are the ones that you speak to when you need compensation for an insured loss that you have experienced.

This process starts by reporting the claim.  For example, if you are in a car accident, you would report this to your insurance company as quickly as you can.  A “first notice of loss” form is created and assigned to an adjuster who then begins to process the claim.  They typically start by reviewing the relevant policy to determine whether or not there is coverage for the reported loss.

After the coverage is verified, the adjuster will typically reach out to the insured to get their side of the story.  This not only helps the adjuster get a clearer sense of what happened, but it also gives them a chance to root out the possibility of insurance fraud.  If the story that the insured tells the adjuster doesn’t make any sense, or the information doesn’t match what is stated on the first notice of loss form, then the adjuster can investigate further for the possibility of fraud.

If the adjuster doesn’t suspect any fraud, they will continue to process the claim by reviewing the police report of the accident.  They will also examine photos of the scene and the damage to the vehicles to try to decipher who was responsible for the accident.  Throughout this process the adjuster is constantly setting aside the amount of money they think would adequately settle a claim.  This money is called the loss reserve and the amount changes when the adjuster discovers new information such as medical bills or more damage than they previously thought.

If the insured individual is found to be at fault then the adjuster must pay for the other party’s vehicle damage/medical bills as well their insured’s damage/medical bills up to the amount established in their policy.  Conversely, if the insured individual is not found to be liable then the adjuster would pay for their vehicle damage/medical bills and then they would attempt to recover that money from the other party’s insurance company.  This process is called subrogation.

Ultimately, once the liability has been established and the funds have been distributed, the claim has been processed and settled.  However, this process can take months or years to be completed.  In general, cooperation from all parties makes this process as quick as possible.

Accounting

            The accounting department is responsible for processing payments as well as maintaining accurate financial statements for the company.  They process checks from policyholders on a daily basis and they also make payments out to agents when they earn commissions.

Along with processing payments, the accounting department is also responsible for producing quarterly reports on the financial status of the company as well as yearly reports that are reviewed by state insurance bureaus.  The quarterly reports are snapshots of the company’s financial status throughout the year so that management can track whether they are progressing or regressing and make real-time adjustments.   The yearly reports are usually much more in-depth and some of them are sent to the state insurance bureau to be reviewed.  These reviews are looked over by the bureau to determine whether or not the company is being financially responsible.  If the company is found to be maintaining financial responsibility, their insurance rating can increase, which would help that company build more trust with their policyholders.  If their reports show that they haven’t been responsible, their insurance rating could drop which can potentially cause policyholders to switch carriers.

In a nutshell, the accounting department is responsible for managing the company’s money so that they can responsibly grow and maintain trust with their customers.

Checklist for First-Time Home Buyers

If you’ve never experienced the home buying process, it can seem overwhelming. There are a number of steps you have to take before you can pack your boxes and start the next chapter of your life. If you understand the key steps you’ll have to take before you even start your home search, you’ll be prepared for any potential roadblocks you might face along the way.

At Patrons Oxford, we understand how stressful the process can be and we’re here to help. Whether you’re ready to buy your first home now or just thinking about it, we’ve put together a checklist to help you along the way.

#1. Set a budget 

The first step in the home-buying process is to determine your budget and to make a realistic savings plan for your down payment. You also need to factor in the closing costs, realtor fees, and additional expenses for home repairs, moving and unexpected maintenance costs. Before you even begin looking at homes, you’ll need to decide on your price range and ask yourself the following questions:

  • How much house can I afford?
  • Am I going to take out a loan?
  • How much do I have saved for a down payment?
  • Can I afford my desired neighborhood?

#2. Get pre-approved
Now that you’ve determined your budget, start looking for a mortgage lender with a good reputation and timely closings. How much the lender will give you to purchase your first home will be dependent on factors such as your monthly income, debt, credit score, and profession. During this time, you can also secure your financing options and to make sure you’ll be able to afford your monthly mortgage payments.

#3. Find a realtor

Find a professional real estate agent who is an expert in the market and area you are considering to buy in. Throughout the whole process of financing, inspections, showings, and negotiating, a real estate agent will help you navigate your search and ensure you’re on track. Your realtor will help you set priorities and make an informed decision when it comes time to make an offer on your dream home. 

#4. Begin your search 

Set a list of amenities you want your ideal home to have and prioritize them from must-haves to nice-to-haves. For example, do you want to be near a local hiking trail or nearby lake? This will help you narrow down your search and weed out homes that may not be right for you and your needs. Your realtor can help you set up times to visit and tour the homes in-person or virtually. 

#6. Make an offer

Once you find your perfect home — make an offer. Your realtor will help you put this together and can guide you on what price makes sense for you. If your offer is accepted you can move on to the next step and if not, you’ll resume your search until you find the right match.

#7. Schedule an inspection

This essential step will help you identify any major underlying issues with the home that may not be visible to the eye or disclosed by the seller. Should you find a problem and the sale was contingent on the inspection, you’ll be able to renegotiate or pull out of the sale entirely. Typically, the inspection should be completed within one week of the offer being accepted.

#8 Purchase a homeowners insurance policy

Now that you have your home — protect it. Before you close, you’ll have to provide proof of an insurance policy. Your existing agent can help you open a new policy or you shop around to find a policy that works best for you. Your coverage will protect you from damage to your property and your liability or legal responsibility for any injuries and property damage you or members of your family cause to other people. So when you’re entertaining during your housewarming party, you can have some peace of mind that your home insurance policy will cover you in the event of someone being injured or something being damaged. 

#9 Close and prepare for your move

Once all the steps above are completed, you can close on your home and prepare for your move. This includes finding a moving company, looking at furniture, and setting a move-in date

We hope this checklist helps you throughout the home buying process. Visit our website to find an agent near you who is ready to answer all your insurance questions. https://patrons.com/find-agent.htm 

 

Sevigney-Lyons Insurance Agent Spotlight

In our latest Agent Spotlight, we’re excited to introduce you to Sevigney-Lyons Insurance Agency! 

Len Sevigney founded the agency in 1984 in his hometown of Wells, Maine after working for many years as a successful independent insurance agent. Starting with just a few carriers, he opened a small office on Main Street and by 1985 was joined by Jack Lyons. This partnership allowed them to grow quickly, along with their reputation for being honest and knowledgeable. Since then, the agency has thrived, expanding business exponentially, and today you can rest assured knowing that they will still take the time to get to know you, the customer, and your insurance needs.

In 1999, Len’s sons, Lucas & Jonathan, joined him in running the agency upon graduating from St. Lawrence and Boston College, respectively. Since then, Sevigney-Lyons has become one of the most decorated agencies in Southern Maine, winning multiple CSR of the year awards, holding chairs on several company boards, and winning multiple company awards. In the past several years Sevigney-Lyons purchased Ham Insurance in South Berwick, ME; Lyons Agency for Insurance in Kennebunk, ME; and Coastal Insurance Agency in Portland, ME.

The longevity of many of their employees can be attributed to the family atmosphere across the company. The leadership at Sevigney-Lyons encourages education and growth, offering rewards for excellent customer service. They also strive to have the top-technology to make a not-so-easy job a little bit easier for their employees. It’s the superior customer service of the staff that also helps the agency maintain longevity with their customers. Offering home, auto, business, watercraft, ATV, snowmobile, motorcycle, and an elite condo program, their team is ready to find the right coverage for your unique needs. What sets them apart from other agencies is the time they take to get to know you — you’re not just a number when you insure with Sevigney-Lyons. 

Employees of Sevigney-Lyons are leaders not only in the workplace but also in the industry as a whole. Katie Johnson is on the Maine Young Agents Committee, a group designed to help younger employees thrive in an industry made up of mostly veterans. Laurie Billings is Chairwoman of the Maine Insurance Agents Association and is a two-time winner of Maine Young Agent of the Year and she also serves on the Advisory Council for Selective Insurance.

Outside of the office, Sevigney-Lyons prides itself on their commitment to giving back to the local community. They have teamed up with My Pal Spencer (#MPSIII), an organization fighting to cure Sanfilippo Syndrome. This relationship began after the son of one of their insurance underwriters was diagnosed — since then, they have been raising awareness and fundraising for rare diseases. Also, they started an annual charity golf event that benefits a number of local organizations throughout the community.

We’re proud to work with independent agents like Sevigney-Lyons 

who are leaders inside and outside the office. You can learn more about them and their insurance policy offerings on their website: https://www.sevigneylyons.com/

Guide to Reviewing Your Insurance Policy for the New Year

When your life changes, so should your insurance policy. As we step into a new year, it’s the perfect time to review the last 365 days and plan ahead for the coming months. For many of us, 2020 brought a number of challenges and new experiences that we never expected. From canceled family vacations to working remotely, homeschooling kids, and spending much more time at home, we all had to pivot our initial goals for the year and develop a new routine to support the health and safety of our communities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  

No matter how you spent your time last year, there may be a few changes in your life or around your home that require an updated insurance policy. Did you finally tackle a big DIY project around the house or make a move into a home in a suburban neighborhood? These are both things that can significantly impact your insurance coverage needs. Over the next few weeks, follow these steps to ensure you and your loved ones are protected from the unexpected. 

Collect your insurance policies

The first step in reviewing and updating your insurance policies is to understand what your current coverage is. Have you made additions to your home, had a baby, or made a valuable purchase without updating your policy? These changes may not be reflected in your original plan and require an amendment or added coverage to make sure you’re financially protected in the event of a loss. 

What to look for when reviewing your policy

Once you have all your policies, thoroughly read through them. A few key considerations to keep an eye out for when reviewing are:

  • The amount of coverage you have in relation to your recent needs and net worth. For example, if you’ve made a lot of expensive purchases lately, you may benefit from additional coverage outside your normal home insurance policy. 
  • Affordability of your premium — did you experience significant life changes that resulted in a loss and changed your financial stability? An agent can help you find a more suitable coverage option for you. 

Once you’ve read through your policies, identify and list any and all major life changes you’ve experienced — buying a home, a new teen driver, purchasing a recreational vehicle like a snowmobile or a boat, etc. If any of these changes happened after you updated your policy last, it’s time to contact your local agent. 

Review your policy with a local agent

Call your local agent to review your policy and better understand your options for maximum. Your agent will help you understand what policy makes sense for your needs and can answer any questions you may have. Being experts in their field, they can also help you identify changes you may not have realized affect your coverage. 

Start the New Year on the right foot and review your insurance policies. Visit our website to find an agent near you who is ready to answer all your questions. https://patrons.com/find-agent.htm