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Debunking Home Insurance Myths

Debunking Home Insurance Myths

The world of insurance is complex and often difficult to understand. Rules and laws change frequently, so what was accurate, say 10-15 years ago, may not be correct now. As your broker, it is our job to help you navigate the world of insurance. This is why we have compiled a list of 6 common home insurance myths.

  1. My home’s insurable value is based on its market value.

Your home’s insurable value is not the same as its market value. Unlike the market value, insurable value does not include the cost of acquiring land and is generally based on the amount required for purchasing building materials and hiring contractors to build a replacement.

  1. Your home insurance policy always covers flood damage.

Most standard home insurance policies cover water damage caused by things inside your home (like a burst pipe or broken hot water boiler). But, damage caused by water that enters your home from external sources (during heavy rainfall, a sewer backup, or a sump pump failure, for example) is generally not covered on standard packages but can be purchased additionally.

  1. All my valuables and possessions are covered in my home owner’s policy.

When you purchase a home insurance policy, you receive some content coverage. However, this content coverage might not be enough to cover very expensive or valuable possessions, such as jewelry or art. Don’t assume that you have insurance on all your possessions. When in doubt, please ask one of our insurance specialists.

  1. My home business is covered under my home insurance policy.

Your home insurance policy will likely not cover claims associated with a home-based business unless the business is included on the policy.

  1. Home insurance is required by law.

True, Short of. The government does not require home insurance. However, most lenders and banks require home insurance as a condition of a mortgage. Regardless if it is required or not, we strongly recommend all home owners purchase insurance.

  1. My home insurance covers my tenants.

False. While your home insurance policy will cover the apartment’s structure, it will likely not cover their possessions.

If you have any questions or would like to know if your “myth” is accurate, please reach out to one of our friendly staff members today at 1.855.726.8627.

Hurricane preparedness for construction sites

Hurricane Larry is en route for Atlantic Canada; Contractors need to think about how to keep their construction sites safe and secure in case of a hurricane or tropical storm.

Construction companies need to prepare for the worst when storms threaten their job sites and plan to deal with the ramifications after a storm passes. Here are 9 things that you should do in advance of a hurricane to keep your construction site safe:

  1. Develop and review a hurricane preparedness and safety plan. This document should outline the exact timeline and steps the contractor will take to safely secure the project site in the event of a storm. Make sure to include when it is time to send your employees home and evacuate the area. Driving in a storm can be dangerous, so it is crucial to keep your employees safe.
  2. Communicate your hurricane plan with the team. Make sure everyone knows the plan and what tasks they are assigned.
  3. Document all work in progress and take inventory of materials and onsite equipment. If damage occurs, having a formal document will help assess the jobsite for damage after the hurricane.
  4. Monitor the weather. We all know that the weather in Atlantic Canada is unpredictable and can change at a moment’s notice.
  5. Evaluate tower crane risks. Ensure the general contractor and subcontractor have wind ratings for the cranes and an action plan for proper protection.
  6. Secure hazardous chemicals, if they are present on site.
  7. Ensure the structure’s security. The last thing you or the property owner want is for your project to collapse or cause damage during a storm. Ensure the structure itself is secure and reduce the risk of items blowing off as much as possible.
  8. Remove or secure all tools, materials, and equipment. Place what you can in buildings and sheds. If you can not remove it, make sure it is tied down to prevent it from blowing or tipping.
  9. After the hurricane has passed, assess the damage, and call your insurance broker if needed.

If you have any questions about your commercial insurance policy or need to make an insurance claim, please call us today at 1-855-726-8627.

Hurricane preparedness for businesses

Significant rainfall and high winds pose many risks for your business, and the best way to be prepared is to have an action plan in place. You should always maintain an awareness of developing and approaching storm and hurricane activity; this will allow you ample time to take the necessary steps to keep your staff and business safe.

We encourage all our customers with exposure to potentially severe and damaging windstorms, hurricanes, and rain events to have a Hurricane / Windstorm Emergency Response Plan. It will help to reduce damage, restore operations, and protect lives. Before hurricane and storm season, we suggest you develop and review a hurricane preparedness and safety plan. This document should outline the exact timeline and steps you and your employees will take to safely secure the business in the event of a storm.

When implementing a hurricane or windstorm plan, consider other emergency plans, systems, or practices already in place that will support surviving and recovering from a storm. Some of these recommendations include:

In advance of the hurricane/windstorm – Before the hurricane or tropical storm making landfall, there are several items that you, a business owner, can do to prepare.
1. Ensuring that the appropriate staff and volunteers are familiar with the Hurricane / Windstorm Emergency Response Plan and the processes designated at each location.
2. If possible, maintain a backup electrical power supply in case power is disrupted for an extended period following the storm (typically, you should prepare for up to 72 hours of power disruption.)
3. Back up all critical data securely to the cloud, or a separate device, that can be stored at a location that is protected from the storm.
4. Establish and maintain emergency contact information for all staff, volunteers, and key service providers.

A few days ahead of the hurricane/windstorm – in the days leading up to the hurricane or tropical storm making landfall, there are several items that you, a business owner, can do to prepare.

1. Review the emergency action plan with all involved personnel — contractors, staff and volunteers as needed.
2. Check all roofs and make repairs as time allows. Remove all loose items from the roof and remove any debris that has accumulated. Ensure roof drains, gutters, downspouts are clear of obstructions.
3. Remove any debris from outdoor areas that might become a projectile during the storm.\ hurricane
4. Ensure roof drains, gutters, downspouts are clear of obstructions.
5. Remove loose, outdoor, inactive equipment such as BBQ’s, play equipment, furniture etc.
6. Anchor portable buildings or trailers to the ground.
7. Secure outdoor equipment that cannot be moved. You do not want your equipment to blow away or tip over in the high wind.
8. Consider putting sandbags in front of doorways, if required, to help redirect storm or flood water away from the building (the sandbags will not completely stop water entry but can help divert water.).
9. Verify all fire and life safety systems are in service (i.e., water supplies, sprinklers, fire alarms).

During the storm…

1. During the storm, be safe.

Once the hurricane has passed, and it is safe to return to your business, you should,
1. Check that it is safe to enter your property.
2. Verify that water and power supplies are available to your facility and have qualified personnel thoroughly check the building and surrounding property.
3. Ensure essential systems (i.e., heating, fire detection, security systems, fire pumps etc.) are still operational.
4. Inspect your facility for any damage and initiate emergency repairs immediately. Be aware that additional hazards such as live electrical wires, broken glass, unsafe loads etc., may now be present.
5. Begin salvage as soon as possible to prevent further damage. Downed trees can also be a hazard if they are in contact with power lines or at risk of causing bodily injury or property damage. Only qualified contractors or personnel should remove downed or partially downed trees.
6. If damages have occurred, you will need to establish a repair protocol and contact your insurance broker.

If you have any questions about your commercial insurance policy or need to make an insurance claim, please call us today at 1-855-726-8627.

Hurricane Larry Moves Towards Atlantic Canada.

Large ocean waves stirred up by Hurricane Larry will arrive along the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia and southern Newfoundland on Thursday.

According to the Weather Network, on September 8, Hurricane Larry, a now category 3 hurricane, has the potential to move south of Newfoundland as a category 1 hurricane or an intense post-tropical storm Friday through Saturday. 

As this is the first big storm of the season, we have prepared a hurricane preparedness check list. 

Before a Hurricane

To prepare for a hurricane, take the following measures:

  • Build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan. Contact Munn’s Insurance if you would like us to provide you with an emergency kit checklist or sample family communications plan.
  • Learn the elevation level of your property and whether the land is flood-prone. This will help you know how your property will be affected when a storm surge or tidal flooding is forecasted.
  • Identify levees and dams in your area and determine whether they pose a hazard to you.
  • Learn community hurricane evacuation routes and how to find higher ground. Determine where you would go and how you would get there if you needed to evacuate.
  • Make plans to secure your property.
  • Cover all of your home’s windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.
  • Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure. This will reduce roof damage.
  • Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well-trimmed so they are more wind resistant.
  • Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
  • Reinforce your garage doors. If wind enters a garage, it can cause dangerous and expensive structural damage.
  • Bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else that is not tied down.
  • Determine how and where to secure your boat.
  • Install a generator for emergencies.
  • If in a high-rise building, be prepared to take shelter on or below the 10th floor.
  • Examine your home insurance or rental insurance policy to learn the details of how you will be covered (and what is excluded) in the event of a flood.

During a Hurricane

If a hurricane is likely in your area, you should:

  • Listen to the radio or TV for information.
  • Secure your home, close storm shutters and secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors.
  • Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed.
  • Turn off propane tanks.
  • Avoid using the phone, except for serious emergencies.
  • Moor your boat if time permits.
  • Keep a supply of water for sanitary purposes, such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other larger containers with water.
  • Find out how to keep food safe during and after an emergency.

You should evacuate under the following conditions:

  • If you are directed by local authorities to do so. Be sure to follow their instructions.
  • If you live in a mobile home or temporary structure. These shelters are particularly hazardous during hurricanes, no matter how well-fastened to the ground.
  • If you live in a high-rise building. Hurricane winds are stronger at higher elevations.
  • If you live on the coast, on a floodplain, near a river or on an island waterway.

If you are unable to evacuate, go to your wind-safe room. If you do not have one, follow these guidelines:

  • Stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors.
  • Close all interior doors, and secure and brace external doors.
  • Keep curtains and blinds closed. Do not be fooled if there is a lull; it could be the eye of the storm and winds will pick up again.
  • Take refuge in a small interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level.
  • Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object.
  • Avoid elevators.

After a Hurricane

  • Continue listening to a radio or the local news for the latest updates.
  • Stay alert for extended rainfall and subsequent flooding even after the hurricane or tropical storm has ended.
  • If you have become separated from your family, use your family communications plan.
  • If you evacuated, return home only when officials say it is safe.
  • Drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed¬out bridges. Stay off the streets. If you must go out, watch for fallen objects including downed electrical wires, weakened walls, bridges, roads and sidewalks.
  • Keep away from loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the power company.
  • Walk carefully around the outside of your home and check for loose power lines, gas leaks and structural damage before entering.
  • Stay out of any building if you smell gas, and if floodwaters remain around the building or your home was damaged by fire and the authorities have not declared it safe.
  • Inspect your home for damage. Take pictures of damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance purposes. If you have any doubts about safety, have your residence inspected by a qualified building inspector or structural engineer before entering.
  • Use battery-powered flashlights in the dark. Do NOT use candles. Keep in mind that the flashlight should be turned on outside before entering, as the battery may produce a spark that could ignite leaking gas, if present.
  • Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you are sure it’s not contaminated.
  • Check refrigerated food for spoilage. If in doubt, throw it out.
  • Wear protective clothing and be cautious when cleaning up to avoid injury.
  • Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
  • NEVER use a generator inside homes, garages, crawlspaces, sheds or similar areas, even when using fans or opening doors and windows for ventilation. Deadly levels of carbon monoxide can quickly build up in these areas and can linger for hours, even after the generator has shut off.

In addition to insuring your home, we are committed to helping you and your loved ones stay safe when disaster strikes. If you would like more information on developing a family emergency plan or building a disaster supply kit, please contact Munn Insurance at 709-726-8627 today.

 

Maintaining Safe Cybersecurity Practices for Remote Workers

This past Saturday, multiple news outlets reported a massive cyber attack infiltrating personal cell phones, mainly iPhones.

The attack used a spyware program called Pegasus to infiltrate apps like iMessage or by having victims inadvertently click on a link containing a virus. Similar to ransomware, this spyware exists in a smartphones memory, making detection difficult. It allows hackers to read text messages and emails, tracks user’s locations, activate systems like the camera, and more. Spyware is very dangerous and leaves the users very vulnerable. For more information on this cyber breach click here: https://time.com/6081622/pegasus-iphone-spyware-hack/.

Companies spend a lot of money and resources to ensure their company protocols and trade secrets are kept confidential; employees sign nondisclosure agreements and there is likely a complex anti-virus system installed on all company computers.  But there is one growing risk that needs to be addressed, your employee’s personal cybersecurity. COVID-19 has taught us that we no longer need to be sitting in a corporate office building to work;  employees can work from home, on the go, or in a local coffee shop. So, it doesn’t matter if your company has the best anti-virus protection; if your employees are working from an unsecured device or location, you are at high risk for a cyber attack.

In a world where employees need to be work accessible at all times, how can companies stay protected against a cyber attack? We have compiled a list of tips to keep Cybersecurity top of mind for a remote workforce.

Employers need to take the following steps to protect the companies cybersecurity:

  1. Adjust Your Cyber Strategy – Ensure you evaluate your cybersecurity strategy, budgets and prioritize investments to improve the companies cybersecurity plan regularly.
  2. Step Up Cyber Training and Exercises – Employees can’t help mitigate risk if they are unaware. Employees need to be informed of new cyber threats and reminded of their role in effectively preventing, detecting, responding to and recovering from cyberattacks. Set up training exercises and workshops for all employees regularly.
  3. Install a secure connection to connect to the company network – Ensure the company VPN is configured to use multi-factor authentication. Note, this is difficult if employees access company data, such as emails on their cell phones.

Employees need to take the following steps to protect the companies cybersecurity:

  1. Not connecting to the company network with any unsecured public Wi-Fi. Working from a coffee shop or having a lunch meeting is very intriguing. But, it is very unsafe to connect to a public WIFI connection.
  2. Creating new and strong passwords their your laptops, mobile devices, and emails regularly.
  3. Not clicking on anything they think could be unsafe or from an unknown source.
  4. Disabling Bluetooth audio discovery and auto-connect on their smartphones and laptops.
  5. Being text message aware – Don’t respond to text messages from people they do not know. Do not respond to unsolicited text messages from companies or organizations.
  6. Not using the same passwords for multiple sites.

If you have any questions about what cyber coverage you need or how to reduce your risk of a cyberattack, please contact Mike, our business insurance expert, at 709-726-4498.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Schools Out for the Summer!

Schools out!

This is the best day of the year for students, parents, teachers, and school administrative staff! But, we want to remind drivers and parents about the importance of keeping children safe throughout the summer months. Kids will be excited and may not be thinking about their personal safety, so drivers need to be extra cautious in looking for child pedestrians and bicyclists during the summer months.

We have compiled a list of tips for drivers to follow this summer.
• Be alert, especially in residential areas.
• Expect the unexpected. Children may cross the street at the wrong place or suddenly run or ride in front of you.
• Obey all laws. Slow down if there are children along the road or crossing the street. Come to a complete stop at intersections.
• Double-check behind you and around you when backing out of a driveway or parking space.
• Observe carefully when driving around playgrounds and parks.
• Watch for clues; a hockey net or ball in the road or on the sidewalk can mean kids are playing nearby.
• Don’t block crosswalks when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn forcing pedestrians to go around you: this could put them in the path of moving traffic.
• Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians.

Parents, please talk to your children about the dangers of being on the road and ways they can protect themselves: for example, tell your children to make eye contact with the driver before they cross, even if the walk signal is on, make sure they always to stop, look and listen before crossing the street. And, teach your children to watch out for cars that are backing up; even the most cautious driver may not be able to spot a small child running behind them.

Together, we can all make sure everyone has a safe and enjoyable summer.

Boat Safety Tips

There’s nothing quite like spending the day on your boat with family and friends, whether on a pond or the Atlantic Ocean. So, we have compiled a list of top safety tips to follow to ensure you and your passengers stay safe this summer.

Before you operate a boat, you need to:
• Ensure that your boat is insured
• Obtain Proof of Competency – Obtain Proof of Competency
• Apply for a Pleasure Craft License

While operating a boat, you need to:
• Do not operate a boat while under the influence
• Ensure life jackets are correctly fitted and worn at all times
• Check local weather before setting sail
• Carry a throwable flotation device
• Carry Visual and sound signaling devices
• Ensure you have enough gas to get to your destination and back

For more information on boat safety and how to keep yourself and your passengers safe this summer, please visit https://tc.canada.ca/en/marine-transportation/marine-safety/office-boating-safety.

When to contact your broker on your business insurance policy

As your broker, we work for you. We are the intermediary between you and your insurance company; We are fast, friendly, and local.

As your representative, we can only provide you with the most competitive price and the best service if we have accurate information. Therefore, we have compiled a list of times it is vital for you, a business owner, to contact your broker.

  • When your business is changing or altering its operations –  Your business insurance policy premium is determined by your operational offerings (the work you do). If your company develops a new offering/service/product, you need to contact us, your broker, to ensure you are rated correctly for this business venture.
  •  When your business property becomes vacant/occupied – If you rent space to clients, you should immediately contact your broker if the property becomes vacant for more than 30 days. Vacant properties are rated differently than occupied buildings; This will ensure your property is rated correctly and that the insurance company is aware of this change in occupancy.
  • When your business gets a new vehicle/new driver- If you are adding or subtracting vehicles or drivers from your commercial auto policy, make sure to call your broker. The type of vehicle, driver’s experience, and driver’s history are determining factors of your rate; therefore, this notification ensures that your policy is accurate and rated correctly.
  • When you purchase a new piece of equipment for your business – If you are adding a piece of equipment to your commercial policy, make sure to call your broker. This notification ensures that your policy is accurate and accounted for correctly; we can not insure what we don’t know about. In the case of any claims, the policy will respond accordingly.
  • When your digital footprint changes or to learn more about Cyber Insurance – Cyber attacks are among the largest growing threats to any business. Any company that holds clients’ private information, processes transactions online, or uses point of sales terminals has exposure for a potential cyber-attack. Common cyber attacks include locking a company out of its systems, compromising personal client information or accessing financial materials. In any case, this is something that you need to be protected against.

Whenever there is a change in your business – big or small you need to inform your brokers; communication between you and your broker is vital to make sure your insured correctly. For more information or to update your commercial policy, please calls Mike today at 709-726-4498.

Getting your property ready for spring

In Atlantic Canada, spring is a welcome change, especially this year, as March came in like a lion. The snow will soon start to melt, the temperature will rise, and the flowers will start to bloom. For many people, spring is an opportunity to renovate or make upgrades to your property.

Here are six tips to help you get your property ready for spring.

  1. Make a list of tasks for both inside and outside of the property. Spring is a great time to make some upgrades to your property, but it can be daunting. Make a list of all the things you would like to do over the next few months, making your chores much more manageable and taking the stress away.
  2. Trim your trees and shrubs, remove any dead branches. Winter is known to cause havoc with wind and snow, and the harsh conditions can damage tree and plant life. When these large objects are damaged, they can crack off or fall over, causing damage to your property.
  3. Check and repair any damage to your roof. Once the snow and ice have melted, we recommend that you safely check your roof for any damage. Damage to your roof could consist of missing shingles, loose shingles, shingles that may have been damaged, etc.
  4. Check your gutters and downspouts, remove any debris. Check your foundation vents and ensure nothing is blocking them.
  5. Test your smoke alarms and replace the batteries. First alert recommends that you test your alarms at least once a month to ensure they are working properly. If a nine-volt battery powers your smoke alarms, the battery should be replaced every 6 months, while the alarm itself should be replaced every 10 years.
  6. Prepare your snowblower for storage. Your storage guidelines will change depending on your storage location, but some general tips are to drain the fuel, add a fuel stabilizer, and place a cover over your machine. If you have any specific questions regarding snowblower storage, we recommend you reach out to the manufacture.

If you have any questions about your home or auto insurance, please contact Munn Insurance toll-free at 1-855-726-8627 today.

How Do You Use Your Vehicle? Commercial or Personal?

Some people use their personal vehicle when performing certain day to day activities of their job. It happens a lot. The question is, are you covered?

Say for example you’re a salesperson driving a lot for business visiting clients, a construction worker driving from job to job, or a baker delivering a wedding cake. In each of these examples, your vehicle is a vital part of your job. Technically, you are using your personal vehicle for commercial use. The question is, if you get into an accident, will you be covered?

While your personal auto insurance will protect you while you are driving to and from work; that may not be the case if you are using the vehicle for business purposes like the examples above. No one wants to add another bill to their monthly expenses. But, no one wants to be left without coverage when they need it the most.

So, back to the question, are you covered? The simple answer is, there is no one answer fits all. So, let us review some scenarios;

  1. Is your vehicle title in your business name?
  2. Does your employee drive your vehicle as part of their employment?
  3. Do you drive your vehicle as part of your job?
  4. Is your vehicle outfitted with equipment, snowplows, machinery, or tools?
  5. Do you transport/deliver goods, materials or merchandise as part of your job?
  6. Do you/your employees conduct company business while driving their personal vehicle?
  7. Do you transport people in exchange for money?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, we suggest that you phone one of our friendly staff members to review the details of your policy with you. Your personal auto policy may not cover you in these situations. You are at risk of a significant financial loss if you are in an accident with no coverage.

Bonus: Commercial auto insurance is often tax-deductible!


If you would like more information on commercial vehicle insurance, or if you have any questions on your home or auto insurance, please contact Munn Insurance toll free at 1-855-726-8627 today.