September is Mold Awareness Month

September is Mold Awareness Month.  Moldpedia.com states that mold needs a couple of conditions to grow, mold spores, a food source (eg wood, drywall, and cotton), darkness, warmth, oxygen, moisture and time. According to moldpedia.com, the most common causes of mold growing on walls are high humidity, condensation, and water leaks.  Any moisture can be a key cause of mold growth.  Leaking pipes, humidity, condensation, poor ventilation and even wet clothes can cause mold.    Keep in mind that mold can grow in as little as 24 to 48 hours under the right conditions. Mold is usually fuzzy or slimy in appearance and appears as irregularly shaped spots that can be blue, green, yellow, brown, gray, black or white.  Often times the surfaces can begin to rot. (restorationmasterfinder.com/restoration/difference-between-mold-and-mildew/) What can you do if you get mold?  Some mold can be DIY; however mold can be toxic and dangerous.  It might be a good idea to involve a mold remediation specialist.  If you do try and do it yourself make sure you have good ventilation, you are wearing googles, a mask and gloves.  Mold can cause damage to you and your family as well as your home.  If you think the mold is bad remember to contact a professional. 

How does your lawn look?

Fall is on the way.  Fall can be the time of year when people work on their lawns and landscaping for next spring.  Fall can be the time of year when you fill in bare and burned spots, apply fertilizer, and possibly aerate.  According to www.lawndoctor.com , aeration is the process of removing soil plugs from a yard in order to free up passageways for precious nutrients to reach grassroots, these nutrients can struggle to reach the roots due to soil compaction.  When using an aerator, www.greenindustrypros.com suggest inspecting your area first and removing any rocks, wires, or other objects that could present a hazard.  Set the aerator at a comfortable walk speed and avoid hard surfaces.  Always use safe lifting techniques when loading and unloading the aerator and never stick your hands or feet near the moving or rotating parts.  Also never leave the machine unattended on a slope.  It is also a good idea to use gloves and safety glasses when working on your yard. 

 

After aerating your lawn you may want to add seed or fertilizer.  Remember to keep safety in mind not only for you and your family but your four legged family too.  The website www.pennington.com has many tips on how to safely fertilize your lawn.  First and foremost they suggest reading all label instructions.  When reading labels remember that organic or natural still might not be safe for kids and pets.  Your fertilizer could contain herbicides that kill and prevent weeds.  When applying fertilizer wear protection clothing and eyewear, remember you could be working with harmful chemicals.  Also take care to rake or wipe up any over spread so that you can minimize your environmental impact.  Typically each product has a period of time where it is safe to use the lawn again.  Pay attention to these time frames and keep kids and pets off the lawn during non-safe times.

 

Good luck on your fall lawn program and stay safe.

Have fun but stay safe

Labor Day weekend is typically the end of the summer season. This can mean parties and fun with friends and family. Driving locally or away for the weekend can be a dangerous situation. According the the National Safety Council, there are about 400 fatal auto accidents over Labor Day weekend each year. The NSC also estimates that there are an additional 49,000 others who experience non-fatal car accident injuries. Remember that according the the NSC seat belts are 45% effective in preventing fatalities among front seat passengers, this means 157 lives could be saved by seat belts this Labor Day. If you are driving or riding with someone remember your seat belt and remember to avoid drunk driving. Have a safe and fun holiday weekend.

Do you have a child heading off to school?

Do you have child on their way to college for the first time or heading back to college?  Having your child away at school can be a scary notion for a parent as they have to give up some control over their loved ones.  Here are some items that could help keep your child a little safer away at school. 

1.        Pepper Spray:  Pepper spray is an aerosol spray containing oils typically from cayenne peppers and is issued for irritating the eyes and respiratory system.  There are a couple of different types of pepper spray, typically it’s the distance traveled that changes with each type.  Types of pepper spray can be foggers, streams, gel, and foams.  The stream has the longest distance at 15-20 typically. 

2.       Personal Emergency Protection Alarm:  A PEPA is a device that is portable and has a button that you hit, once the button is hit a loud alarm is given off to alert people nearby you are in destress.  These devices are typically battery operated and cost effective, typically running in a 16 to 30 dollar range.

3.       Mini Flashlight:  A mini flashlight has many uses.  This device can be used if you are coming home from the library late, lost on or off campus, or if your car breaks down. 

4.       High Visibility LED Safety light: This light you can wear while walking or jogging on campus.  The bright light will let traffic know you are there.

5.       First Aid Kit:  Self explanatory

6.       Keychain:  Make sure you know where all your keys are, not is worse than panicking over a set of missing keys

 

This list will help you get started getting ready to go back to school safer.

Back to School

August is here and very soon school will be back in session.  School can bring with it some driving challenges for everyone.  Here are some tips to stay safe in and near school zones.  Remember it is illegal to pass a school bus when the lights are flashing and the stop sign is extended.  The bus stop sign goes for both sides of the road, even if it is a four lane street.  Do not switch lanes or make U-turns while in a school zone.  While in a school zone mind the reduced speed limit, fines can be much greater for a school zone violation.  Pay attention to crosswalks.  You don’t want to block a crosswalk.  This can lead to kids possibly running behind your car and into someone not expecting them to be there.  Also remember to yield to flashing crosswalk signs.  Flashing crosswalk signs called Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons can be popular in heavily walked areas and school zones.  When the lights are flashing there is typically someone in the crosswalk trying to cross.  Another school zone safety measure is a crossing guard.  Pay attention to what the crossing guard is telling you.  Usually the crossing guard is the last person in the street.  Finally just like any type of driving keep distractions to a minimum.  The beginning of the school year can be an exciting time for kids, and kids could be anywhere.  Have a safe start to the  school year.

Back to school

Back to school season is here. For some kids it is going back to college, for others it is the first time out on their own. What does that have to do with insurance? Well possibly a couple of things. Is your child taking a car to school or are you dropping them off? If you are dropping your kid off at school without a car, you could qualify for a discount. Many companies will discount a child away at school without a car, some depend on how far away from home they are. Typically you get a reduce usage rate for your child. Is your child living in a dorm or renting an apartment? If you child is renting an apartment then you might need renters insurance. Some apartment complexes make their tenants furnish a renters policy to move in. Beyond being a requirement of some apartments, renters insurance could help you protect your child’s stuff and your personal wealth. Liability coverage’s on a renters policy could help protect you and your child in the event of a lawsuit. Back to school can be scary and exciting. Let us help you make next school year a good one.

The Heat Wave is here

Temperatures and feels like temperatures are up this weekend. Don’t forget to celebrate National Ice Cream day on July 21st. Remember to wear light clothes and drink plenty of fluids. Limit alcoholic drinks which can dehydrate you. Avoiding strenuous activities outside is also a good idea. Staying indoors is a good idea, if your house doesn’t have air condition take the time to visit the mall or movie theater where there is air conditioning. If you stay at home, lower blinds. Avoid getting sunburned as well, as burned skin can inhibit your bodies ability to cool down. Don’t forget about your pets either, make sure they have plenty of water and never leave them in closed up vehicles. If you do get a heat related illness get inside, drink water and possibly seek medical attention

Are you summer road tripping?

Summer vacation season is in full swing.  Are you taking a long drive to a destination the second half of summer?  According to Liberty Mutual Insurance’s New Beginnings Report, nearly half of Americans don’t check that proper emergency items are in their car.  We have a previous blog entry for you with ideas on what to keep in your emergency kit.  After you have your emergency kit make sure you are ready to drive with little or no distractions.  Make sure your GPS is loaded and your phone is down and put on driving mode.  As for the car, if your car has been inspected recently you should be good to go.  If your inspection was a few months ago, make sure you check your tires.  Check tire wear and pressure. The penny test is a good way to determine if you need new tires.  Also make sure you are set at your tires recommended pressure. Don’t forget to check your cars fluids as well.  Checking your oil, coolant, transmission fluid and windshield wiper fluid can help save you an emergency later.  If you have jumper cables make sure they are packed along with your phone car charger and a flashlight.  It is also a good idea to charge your cell phone prior to leaving.  Buckle up and have a good trip.  Don’t forget to avoid distracted driving and share the road.  Have a good trip and a great summer.

Keep it safe this Fourth of July

The fourth of July is a popular holiday for many reasons.  The Fourth of July can also be a nightmare for your insurance company.  This holiday brings with it the possibility of drunk driving from over enthusiastic celebrators to boating accidents cause by drinking as well as an increased number of boaters.  One holiday accident that is associated with the fourth is fireworks accidents.  According to the website quotewizard.com the following accidents can happen, 18,500 fires per year started by fireworks, 1,300 structure fires and 300 vehicle fires,  $43 million in property damage, and 12,900 people in 2017 treated for injuries related to fireworks, with 36% of those being children.  When it comes to children one of the major culprits is metal sparklers.  According to riskandinsurance.com the metal sparklers could be as hot as 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.  This can lead to burns or possibly a fire.  When it comes to fireworks it is best to leave those to the professionals.  If you are having your own fireworks display remember to keep it safe.  Riskandinsurance.com states you should have a bucket of water available, a hose available, and have a designated firework area which is away from combustible materials, homes, dry leaves and trees.  If you are serving food also make sure to observe food and grill safety rules.  Mayonnaise based side dishes should not be left out for more than two hours and preferably kept on ice.  All meats should be cooked to the proper temperature to avoid illnesses like Salmonella and E. Coli.  While grilling never leave your grill unattended.  Also make sure that you have cleaned your grill properly.  Dirty grills can lead to fires.  Enjoy the Fourth of July but keep an eye on your safety and the safety of your guest.  Follow us on social media, at Twitter and Facebook for other Fourth of July tips.

We are on social media.

Did you know that we are very active on social media? We update our Facebook page and Twitter account daily. You can follow us on Twitter @InsrnceConPitt or on Facebook at @ICPitt or by searching for Insurance Consultants of Pittsburgh. On these sites we update you with insurance info, traffic, weather and just general goings on. Follow us today by clicking on of the buttons at the top of the page.

Are self-driving cars the wave of the future?

Self-driving cars are a cool concept.  You get in your car, plug in where you are going and away you go.  In theory a self-driving car could be safer.  Human error, drunk driving, and distracted driving could potentially all be eliminated.  This could lead to a safer roadway.  According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the thought is that by 2025 there will be 3.5 million self-driving cars on the road.  It is cautioned though that these cars will not be fully autonomous but will have certain conditions in which they will operate autonomously.  A FYI PA is one of the states with enacted legislation for autonomous cars.  What does this mean for you and for your insurance?  For one autonomous cars are not without flaws.  In July 2016 a Tesla Model S was involved in a fatal accident, and again in 2018 a self-driving car killed a drive when it struck a median.  This can create a confusing situation for insurance companies when determining who is at fault.  Is it the car manufacturer?  The software company?  The driver?  This could throw insurance rates into flux as companies try to grip how to charge customers.  Recent problems with self-driving cars could push the timeframe down the road, but they will be here soon.  Would you ride in a self-driving car?  What do you think about self-driving cars?

Summer road trip?

Memorial Day has passed and the official start to summer is in two weeks.  Summer road trips and vacations can mean loading up the car and taking off.  Few things can derail a summer trip faster than car troubles.  One problem that can show up when the temperatures raises is a dead car battery.  According to AAA Exchange it is a good idea to replace a car battery that is over three years old. While you are under the hood check your fluids.  Your coolant being low could lead to a summer driving issue.  Make sure coolant is at the correct level, and don’t forget to never remove a hot coolant cap.  Be sure to check your tires also.  According to autotrader.com be sure to check your tire pressures, and tire wear.  Keep a can of fix a flat in the car as well, that could come in handy during a flat.  It is also a good idea to keep a survival kit in your car.  Don’t forget to include water, a first aid kit, phone charger, snacks, sunscreen, emergency blanket, multi-tool, jumper cables, fuses, duct tape, rag and gloves.  Remember to stay alert and stay safe on the roads this summer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://exchange.aaa.com/car-care/repair-maintenance/seasonal-car-maintenance/summer-tips-to-help-your-car/#.XPleJv4m6mQ

 

https://www.autotrader.com/car-news/10-simple-summer-car-care-tips-240454

Time to get out the summer toys

Jet-ski’s, boats, motorcycles, and ATV’s can all mean that summer is here. All of these vehicles can be great ways to get outside and enjoy the warm weather that summer provides. Did you know that we offer coverage for your summer toys? We can help you insure your boat, jet-ski, ATV and more. You can add full coverage to your toys as well so you can repurchase one in the event of an accident. Give us a call today at 412-344-2800 and let us help you find the right coverage for the right price for your toys.

What does CTE possibly have to do with your car insurance?

CTE stands for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.  Typically this is a brain disorder caused by repeated blows or trauma to the head (https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-dementia/related_conditions/chronic-traumatic-encephalopathy-(cte).  CTE is currently a trending topic due to lawsuits filed against football leagues.  What could this possibly have to do with car insurance?  CTE could be the reason why you need to re-evaluate your limits on auto insurance.  Some literature list car accidents as a possible cause for CTE, at the very least Traumatic Brain Injury can be traced to car accidents.  What this means for you as an auto insurance policy holder is that if you are at fault for an accident involving a head injury, the injured party could come after you claiming Traumatic Brain Injury or CTE.  TBI and CTE could result in increasing claim payouts for auto accidents involving head trauma.  Being That CTE and TBI are fairly new issues facing the auto insurance industry we do not have a lot of data yet on exactly how this could affect claim payouts.  It might be time to have a discussion with us about your liability limits and your auto insurance policy.  You can reach out to us using the buttons for social media or give us a call at 412-344-2800.  Together we can navigate the changing world of insurance.

Graduation season is here

The middle of May can be an exciting time for parents with kids in college or high school.  For parents of high school seniors it is the exciting of graduation and possibly college.  For the parents of college students it could mean another year in the books or college graduation.  One thing that both High School and College parents might have in common is the cost of college.  College costs continue to rise and that can put a burden on students after graduation.  Loans are typically taken out to help cover the cost of tuition.  Many times students are unable to be the sole signer on these loans and a parent cosigns on the loan.  Being a cosigner on a loan is a great way to help your prospective student out, but it comes with a risk.  If that student were to die you could be on the hook for the balance of the loans.  One way to help protect you from this is with life insurance.  A term life insurance policy could help you by giving you a payout in the event of the person you cosigned for passing.  This could help keep a tragic situation from getting worse.  In some cases a life insurance policy can give you a discount on your home and auto insurance.  Contact us today at 412-344-2800 or click one of the buttons to connect with us on social media.  Let us help you figure out your life insurance needs. 

What is the cost to replace my home?

You may be shopping your homeowners insurance now, or you may have shopped your insurance in the past.  During that process one of the major items that need to be discussed is your dwelling value.  When you looked at the quote what did the dwelling limit say?  Did it say actual cash value, or replacement cost.  Was that number at 100% of your replacement cost estimator or was the value below that?  Picking the proper dwelling limit is very important for you the policy holder.  Picking the wrong valuation amount could mean that you get a percentage of what it actually cost to fix your home.  Actual cash value is one type of valuation that could impact you in the event of a claim.  An actual cash value policy subjects you to depreciation for your home that you would typically not be subject to on replacement cost.  Another valuation method is replacement cost.  This valuation is just what it sounds like, it is for the cost to replace or repair your home in the event of a claim.  Replacement cost is a good place to start but it can be done incorrectly and affect you the client.  One other thing to look for is if the replacement cost has a cap.  Some homeowners policies come with a cap over replacement cost, 10, 15, or 25% are common caps with some companies offer guaranteed replacement cost.  What this means to you the customer is that cap number is the most amount over the dwelling number your policy will pay in the event a claim exceeds your dwelling limit.  This gap amount is for your protection and should be used if your dwelling rebuild out paces inflation or you do a home improvement project that adds value to your home and you do not notify (or forget to notify) your agent to make a policy change.  This increased limit should not be used to insure your home for an incorrect value to obtain a lower premium.  This practice could set you up for not receiving the proper valuation in the event of a claim.  Your homeowner’s policy protects one of your biggest assets, it is important it is insured properly.  Give us a call to discuss if your homeowners policy properly covers your home and to see if we can find you the right coverage, at the right price.

Grilling Season is here

Warm weather is here, and with it comes grilling season. Grilling can be a great way to cook food and socialize with friends and family. Grilling can also be dangerous. Check out the links below for some grilling safety tips.

https://www.erieinsurance.com/blog/direct-line-gas-grill

https://www.travelers.com/resources/home/safety/grilling-safety-tips?cm_mmc=TWITTER-_-PI-_-Spring+2019-_-Grilling+Safety&linkId=66270130

https://blog.nationwide.com/grill-safety/

https://www.iii.org/article/grilling-safety-and-insurance

https://foodal.com/kitchen/outdoor-appliances/barbeque-grills/safety-tips/