This Infographic about Fireworks Safety is courtesy of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission
Summers mean backyard grilling – safely!
Just like hamburgers and hot dogs, a sizzling grill is a symbol of summer and grilling isn’t just about great food. Backyard barbecues often create treasured memories with friends and family.
Keep in mind, however, that when you grill, you’re literally playing with fire. Thousands of residents each year learn this the hard way, suffering damage to their homes or even serious injuries in grilling accidents.
There’s good news, though: You can prevent grilling accidents by taking some simple precautions. The tips below can help ensure you cook only your burgers — and not your house — the next time you fire up the grill.
TIPS FOR ALL GRILLS
Your grill, whether gas or charcoal, should be on a level surface outdoors, away from anything that could be ignited by flames (bushes, fences, etc.).
NEVER use a grill indoors. Odorless carbon monoxide fumes could kill you.
Keep your grill clean and well-maintained. Check parts regularly to determine if replacements are needed.
Never leave a hot grill unattended or let children play near it.
CHARCOAL GRILL TIPS
Do not add lighter fluid directly to hot coals. The flame could travel up the stream of fluid and burn you.
Never use gasoline or kerosene to light a charcoal fire.
Use flame-retardant mitts and long-handled barbecue tongs, as coals can reach up to 1,000 degrees.
To dispose of coals, allow the ashes to cool for at least 48 hours before disposal in a non-combustible container. If you cannot wait 48 hours, carefully place coals individually in a can of sand or bucket of water.
GAS GRILL TIPS
From the National Fire Protection Association
Check your grill’s hoses for leaks before using it for the first time each year. Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose. A propane leak will release bubbles. If you have a leak, and it will not stop after the grill and gas is turned off, call the fire department. If the leak stops when the grill and gas are turned off, have your grill serviced by a professional.
If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not move the grill.
Do not keep a filled propane tank in a hot car or trunk. When getting containers refilled, make that your last stop before going home.
Store propane tanks in an upright position, and never indoors.
From all of us at Rue Insurance, happy grilling, and stay safe this summer!
Make no mistake about it folks, Dinosaurs are not human friendly. Sure they may “appear” to make good pets and my 3 year old son would LOVE to have one, but these prehistoric animals can’t be domesticated.
So what would happen if Dinosaurs roamed the earth today and they “Interacted” with your home or auto? By interacted I mean caused some serious damage. We took these hypothetical questions to the Rue Insurance Lab for testing and analysis. Here are our findings:
- A Brachiosaurus comes to your backyard and eats your prize rose bushes. Are your flowers covered? Unfortunately, no. A standard homeowner’s policy would only cover flowers, plants, trees, and shrubs for such perils as fire, lighting, explosions, vehicles of others, or aircraft.
- A Pterodactyl falls out of the sky and crashes into your shed. The shed and the contents inside are destroyed. Yes, you are covered! A standard homeowner’s policy comes with coverage for “other structures” on your property and also the property within.
- A Triceratops goes on a mad rampage and smashes your parked car, sending it flying in the air and smashing to the ground. If you have Comprehensive coverage you would be covered for this. But get a police report because if you do not’ report it to the police then it would be covered under Collision coverage. Why is the police report important? Without it the insurance company will assume it’s a hit and run accident and that is covered by Collision.
- A Tyrannosaurs Rex comes walking through your backyard causing the ground to shake. The ground shaking caused by this animal damages your house. Are you covered or not? There was some serious debate among the lab technicians, but we came to the conclusion that this would not be covered due to the “earth movement” exclusion under a homeowner’s policy. Earth movement is an all encompassing word that includes such things as Earthquakes, Landslides, Mudslides, Sinkholes, and other forms of earth movement caused by nature or by humans.
- That same Tyrannosaurs Rex not only destroys your house but your dog is now mysteriously missing. Remember this kind of Dinosaur is carnivorous. Is your dog covered? We hate to be the bearer of bad news but animals, fish and birds that you own are not covered.
So let’s be grateful that we do not live amongst the dinosaurs.
Graduations, weddings, Memorial Day holiday or just celebrating the warmer weather, party season is upon us. Before you send the invites out for your next bash, make sure you have the proper insurance coverage. How well do you know Host Liquor Liability and what are your coverage limits?
Social Host Liquor Liability is NOT excluded under Personal Liability and Commercial General Liability policies. These liability policies protect you when you host parties and events where alcohol is served and not sold by you. No matter where the party is actually held, your liability insurance goes with you. However, if you rent a location you must add that location to your policy temporarily as an “insured location” for premises liability and medical payments to apply. The act of hiring a caterer to serve food and alcohol does not exclude your host liquor coverage. However, if you cater the event and the venue or caterer sells the alcohol then they assume the liquor liability exposure. You should verify that they have liquor liability insurance by requesting proof of insurance.
- Personally hosted parties – Your personal liability is provided as a coverage component of your Homeowners, Condo, or Tenants (Renters) Insurance policy. Check your liability limit, which can vary from $50,000 up to a max of $500,000. You can increase your limit to the max for a small premium. Because liability awards can be quite significant, we recommend that you consider a personal excess liability (umbrella) policy for at least a $1,000,000 limit. Contact us for a quick quote on a personal umbrella policy.
- Business or office hosted parties – You and your business entity would be insured under a Commercial General Liability policy (or as a section to your Business Owners or Package Policy). Coverage is not excluded for a party you host where alcohol is not sold by you. Check your liability limit which can range from $100,000 to $1,000,000 limit. For increased limits or limits over $1,000,000 please contact us.
- Special Event Liability – If you are hosting a party and don’t have Personal or Commercial Liability coverage then you can purchase a separate policy for Special Event Liability. Contact us for more information.
You host a graduation party and one inebriated guest negligently causes a serious auto accident on the way home. You are sued. Will your homeowners or auto polices respond? The answer may depend – it’s possible that both, either or neither will respond. New wording in the homeowners policy form removes a very important part of this coverage. The major change is that the policy no longer covers you for the liability arising out of a guest’s use of an auto. This means that there is no longer coverage for your liability arising from a guest drinking too much and getting behind the wheel. Depending on how your insurance program is structured, you may be facing a significant coverage gap.
A jury in a very conservative community handed the host of a graduation party an adverse judgment in excess of $4 million due to an accident related to consumption of alcohol by guests. In another case, there was a $3.5 million jury verdict against a family serving alcohol to teenagers who then had a horrific accident. In both cases insurance was inadequate. In the first instance, the insured had adequate liquid assets to respond; in the second case, liquidation and bankruptcy were necessary, wiping out wealth accumulated over several decades. These were examples where there was insurance coverage, just inadequate limits.
Before you host your next event, contact Rue Insurance, at 800-272-4RUE or www.rueinsurance.com. We can review your coverage and assist in developing a risk management plan.
According to the National Weather Service, lightning strikes the US around 25 million times a year, killing an average of 51 people annually.
If thunder has been audible within the last 30 minutes, lightning is close enough to strike. Though no outdoor location is safe with lightning in the area, here are few tips to remember if caught outdoors in a thunderstorm:
- Get out of water. Immediately head toward dry land.
- Stay low. Avoid hills and other high elevated areas.
- Avoid conductive objects. Do not seek shelter near metal objects or under solitary trees.
Vehicles with hard metal tops (no convertibles!) can be a safer alternative, though substantial buildings are your safest bet against lightning. While inside, remember the following:
- Stay away from doors and windows, and avoid direct contact with concrete floors and walls.
- Avoid using electrical devices and corded phones.
- Avoid contact with sinks, faucets, showers, or any outside water sources.
Lightning is by no means the only risk. In 2013, flooding took 82 lives in the US while causing over 2 billion dollars in damage.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 50% of flood-related deaths occur from vehicles being driven into water-covered roadways.
The penultimate rule of thumb in flood safety: Never attempt to cross covered paths or roadways. It only takes six inches of fast-moving water to knock over an adult, while small cars can be swept away in 12 inches.
Spring is the perfect time to review your insurance policy and develop a strategic disaster plan.
In addition to insuring your home, Rue Insurance is 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 us at 609-586-7474 or http://www.rueinsurance.com today.
For up-to-the-minute severe weather forecast information, visit NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center on the web at www.spc.noaa.gov.
Did You Know Employment Practices Liability Claims are on the rise?
The current level of workplace morale, the state of the economy, and legislation such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family Medical Leave Act has led to an increase in employment practices Liability – related claims and lawsuits. Claims can come from current employees, former employees and job applicants. The procedures that employers use or don’t use in hiring, firing and managing their employees can translate into huge defense costs and legal awards to plaintiffs for unintentional errors or oversights. As the name suggests, Employment-Related Practices Liability Coverage provides broad insurance protection from employment-related claims and lawsuits brought against a company, its managers and its directors and officers. It covers such things as age and gender discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful discipline and termination and negligent decisions involving hiring, promotion and compensation. Too many businesses believe their General Liability or Professional Liability policy will cover them for these types of claims. Most General Liability or Professional Liability policies will exclude this exposure or may provide very minimal coverage.
Here are just a few claims examples:
A maintenance worker sued his employer for disability discrimination and wrongful termination. The employee alleged that he was put on involuntary leave of absence and subsequently terminated after he informed his employer that he had multiple sclerosis. The jury awarded the plaintiff $286K.
A female employee sued a parts company for sexual harassment and retaliation. She alleged that she was sexually harassed by her supervisor over a two month period and that the company failed to investigate after she complained. She also alleged that she was terminated after complaining. The jury awarded the plaintiff $6.8M: $6.75M for punitive damages and $50K for compensatory damages.
A former convention center manager sued the facility for age and race discrimination when a less qualified, younger employee was given the position of director of marketing. Jury awarded $659K.
The EEOC sued a “tool and die maker” for race and gender discrimination in hiring practices. EEOC alleged that the African-American and female applicants were turned down for all positions except clerical. The matter settled for $940K.
A movie theatre settled a sexual harassment claim brought by the EEOC on behalf of teenage boys against their manager for $765K. The claim alleged that the theater failed to check the manager’s background, which would have revealed that he was a convicted sex offender.
If you would like to obtain a premium indication for this important coverage, please contact a Rue Insurance representative at 1-800-272-4RUE.
Protect your property and stay safe in the cruel winter weather – follow these safety steps.
The recent winter weather has created difficult travel conditions and the impact of ice, snow and freezing temperatures may lead to power outages and potential property damage—specifically from frozen pipes and ice dams.
Freezing temperatures can be especially damaging to water piping. A few simple steps can do a lot to prevent destructive pipe freezes:
- Open the doors on cabinets where plumbing is located. This can help allow warmer air to circulate around the pipes.
- For pipes that are at risk of freezing (both hot and cold water pipes), let water drip from faucets.
- Keep the heat in your home set at a minimum of 55 degrees.
- Insulate pipes in unheated interior areas, such as crawl spaces and attics. Wrap pipes in heat tape.
If pipes are suspected to be frozen:
- Learn how to shut off your water, you may be able to prevent water damage
- Locate your main water supply ahead of time and mark it in case of emergency
- Contact a plumber for assistance
What is an ice dam? Ice dams can form when water from melting snow re-freezes at the edge of your roofline. Without roof snow removal, the ice dam may grow large enough to prevent water from draining off the roof. The water can then back up underneath the roof shingles and make its way inside your home. An ice dam has the potential to cause serious damage to both your roof and the inside of your home. It is important to take the right steps to protect your home from the risks associated with heavy snow and ice.
Immediate steps you can take:
- Clear downspouts. An easy way to help snow and ice drain off your roof is to make sure the area around your downspouts is clear. This will make it possible for your gutters to drain when snow does melt. It will also help prevent flooding when the snow and ice melts.
- Remove snow from your roof after every storm. Use a roof rake to clear the first three to four feet of snow from your roof immediately after each winter storm to prevent ice dams from forming. While the amount of snow and ice that your roof can handle may vary depending on a number of factors such as the roof type, age and condition of the structure, a good rule of thumb is if there is more than a foot of heavy, wet snow and ice on your roof, you should try to have it removed. If you cannot reach the roof, many homebuilders, landscapers, roofing contractors, and property maintenance companies will remove snow and ice from roofs. We do not recommend using a ladder in snowy and icy conditions. This can be extremely dangerous and is best left to the professionals.
Removing Ice Dams. If you can reach the roof safely, try to knock the ice dam off with a roof rake, or cut a channel through the ice to allow standing water to drain.
- If you cannot reach the roof safely, consider hiring a contractor to remove it.
- Another method is to fill a nylon stocking with calcium chloride ice melt and place it vertically across the ice dam so that it melts a channel through the dam. If you try this method, make sure you can safely position the ice melt on your roof, and make sure to use calcium chloride, not rock salt. Rock salt will damage your roof. Also be aware that shrubbery and plantings near the gutter or downspout may be damaged.
- Look carefully at large icicles. If the icicles are confined to the gutters and there is no water trapped behind them, this does not indicate the presence of an ice dam. However, large icicles can pose a danger to people when they fall off. Try to safely knock the icicles off from the ground, making sure not to stand directly beneath them. If you cannot reach them safely from the ground, consider hiring a contractor to help.
Longer-term prevention: Ultimately, the best prevention for ice dams is to eliminate the conditions that make it possible for them to form in the first place.
- Insulate your attic. Make sure your attic is well insulated to help prevent the melting-and-freezing cycle that causes ice dams to form. Check and seal places where warm air could leak from your house to the attic, including vent pipes, exhaust fans, chimneys, attic hatches and light fixtures.
- Install a water-repellant membrane. When replacing a roof, make sure to install a water membrane underneath the shingles. This acts as an extra barrier that helps prevent water from seeping inside the building.
We’re here to help make sure you’re covered for all of life’s mishaps.
Recently, Rue Insurance rolled out a new way for New Jersey and Pennsylvania business owners to obtain a quotation for Employment Practices Liability Insurance. We have seen a growing demand for this important coverage from our customers. It’s our goal to help you better protect your company from what is a growing risk in today’s business climate.
The website will ask some basic questions about your business, such as What is your business?
- How many full time and part time employees do you have working for you?
- Do you have any leased or temporary employees?
- Do you have employees who work in certain states or outside of the USA?
- Is anybody looking to sue you for a discrimination or harassment issue? (Yes, we have to ask that question.)
This website will let you know if you qualify for an immediate indication and give you a premium figure. Bear in mind that if you qualify for an indication we need to talk to you first about the coverage and get more information from you before a firm quotation is given to bind coverage.
Also, the quotation is for a basic policy. There is some additional coverage you may want to consider such as 3rd party discrimination. Depending on the industry you are in, this coverage may be available.
When it comes to hurricanes people think of high winds, heavy rains, flooding, and loss of power. But in addition to these dangers there is the issue of storm surge. A storm surge is a wall of water that is pushed ashore by the winds of a hurricane. A storm surge can do more damage than most people realize.
When Superstorm Sandy hit New Jersey, towns like Sayreville saw over 39 homes lost, and over 200 people rescued from flood waters. The storm surge from this storm was over 13 feet.
There is a train of thought that if you own a home that is not in a high hazard flood zone you should not be concerned about flood waters. Superstorm Sandy proved that theory wrong. Ask the residents of Sayreville who were displaced or lost their homes.
To illustrate this point let’s look at the FEMA Flood Map at a section of Sayreville along Main Street near Boehmhurst Avenue. We picked this area because it is around 4 miles from the Raritan Bay, the nearest body of water subject to tides.
According to the FEMA flood map there are areas north of Main Street that are in a high hazard flood zone such as parts of Miller Avenue and Tano Lane, but the streets south of Main Street are in a low hazard zone also known as a “C” flood zone.
However, when you look at the map from the US Army Corps of Engineers, the storm surge from a Level 1 or 2 hurricane can go well past the FEMA flood zone. In this map all of Boehmhurst Avenue is affected including the area south of Main Street.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently announced an online tool that home and business owners can use to find out how storm surge can affect an area. For New Jersey the map contemplates hurricanes up to a Level 4. Like any risk analysis tool it’s designed to give you general awareness of what can happen in your area.
With the knowledge of how a storm surge can affect your area you can better plan on what to do to keep your home safe and your business up and running in the event of a hurricane.
Need more help and insight into how to put together a disaster recovery plan? Drop us a line or give us a call.