The unfortunate reality of home or condo ownership is that over time you will most likely develop a leak that could cause major damage if it goes unchecked. If you own a home or condo, regularly check these places for leaks that can cause damage and may go unnoticed.

The Water Heater

Your water heater has a lifespan of approximately 10-12 years. Some go much longer, but that’s just betting that luck is on your side. When water heaters do fail, they unfortunately leak water out the base and all over. By nature, a water heater will continue refilling itself as it drains, so you could have quite a mess on your hands.

Toilet & Sink Lines

If you haven’t already installed braided stainless water lines, do it now! This is the simplest way to protect your home from water damage. The vinyl variety have a tendency to develop bulges, are easily damaged by getting bumped around or can develop cracks as the plastic ages. It also is not a bad idea to regularly inspect all lines in the house for drips.

Washing Machine Supply Lines

A washing machine supply line is typically accessible to view behind your washing machine. These lines are larger than most other supply lines in your home because they provide more water so it is especially important to monitor these and install braided stainless supply lines.

Refrigerator Ice Maker Line

This hidden water supply line can be a big problem! Because it is hidden behind your massive refrigerator, leaking supply lines can go unnoticed for months and be dripping onto your floor and into your crawl space. With the help of a friend or family member, make it a practice to pull out your refrigerator and inspect the lines at least once a year. While you have it out, you can clean your vents at the base of the refrigerator improving the efficiency of the unit.

P-Trap connections

P-traps are the connections for drains under your sinks. As many of us store items alongside these drains, they get bumped quite a bit! If a connection becomes loose or damaged, it can cause a slow leak under the sink. Check for leaks under your sinks regularly to avoid a costly water damage claim or ruining your cabinets.

Utilize Water Alarms to Help Monitor for Leaks

One quick way to continually monitor your home for leaks is to install an inexpensive water sensor. You can find a five pack of them for about $40. Water Sensors are inexpensive and can help you monitor the hard to reach areas like water heaters and refrigerator water supply lines. These sensors act similarly to a smoke detector and sound a loud alarm when the sensors come in contact with water.

Prevention is the best way to avoid a water damage claim in your home.

For answers to everything insurance, trust the insurance agents at George A. Bell & Son. George A. Bell & Son, Inc. is a full service property and casualty, independent insurance agency serving New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and various other states. Founded in 1880 as Bell Brothers Fire Insurance, we continue to be a family owned agency, with the fifth and sixth generations currently continuing the legacy of what those brothers started. We value ourselves on quality insurance, top notch customer service, and a focus on making sure our clients get the best value for their money.

The holiday season is a joyous time, but unfortunately, it is also top season for theft. If you walk around your neighborhood, it isn’t hard to see all the holiday deliveries left on porches of unsuspecting homeowners. Protecting yourself from theft is all about prevention. To avoid being a victim of holiday theft:

  • Have your deliveries sent to your work (if allowed)
  • Request valuable shipments be held by the shipper for in-person pickup. Most major shipping companies even have apps now that can help streamline this process.
  • See if your shipping company has additional options. Amazon recently introduced “lockers” where they will place your shipment in a locker with a special code just for you.
  • Does a retired relative live nearby? Have packages delivered to them. It is always a great opportunity to see family anyway.
  • Sign up for delivery notifications. Many companies send this to you by email, but many carriers have text message notifications.
  • Install a home surveillance system that focuses on the area where your packages are delivered. A pricier alternative if you can’t always be there to monitor your home.
  • Discuss with your neighbors to keep an eye out for unfamiliar vehicles.

Enjoying the holiday season is easy, but preventing theft isn’t always. We hope your holiday season is free of criminal activity.

If you have questions about your home or condo insurance, trust the insurance agents at George A. Bell & Son. George A. Bell & Son, Inc. is a full service property and casualty, independent insurance agency serving New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and various other states. Founded in 1880 as Bell Brothers Fire Insurance, we continue to be a family owned agency, with the fifth and sixth generations currently continuing the legacy of what those brothers started. We value ourselves on quality insurance, top notch customer service, and a focus on making sure our clients get the best value for their money.

It seems like everywhere we go we have a chance to hear the sound of a UAV, also known as a drone, commonly sounding like a disturbed hornets’ nest. Drones are fun to fly for both kids and adults. They are seemingly harmless besides the risk of it becoming non-responsive due to other remote signals, the battery dying and falling out of the sky, or the control operator simply being inexperienced and crashing the drone into a parked vehicle. Many, if not most, drone operators have experienced a drone crash or close call while learning how to pilot the fun UAV. While our first concern is typically, “is my drone okay?” we should be asking ourselves the question of “What happens if I crash this into someone’s house or vehicle?”

The good news is that if you’re using your drone purely for recreational purposes and your drone is a hobby-grade drone, your home, condo or renters insurance policy likely covers you for liability from most drone usage. Now, if you’re using your drone for commercial purposes, you will absolutely need a separate insurance policy to cover you for liability for your drone. Additionally, commercial drone operators now need to pass a certification process to operate and be a commercial drone pilot.

If you’re using your drone for commercial purposes, ask your agent about a commercial general liability (CGL) insurance policy that includes drone usage.

If you’re a recreational drone pilot, talk to your local insurance agent to verify coverage before you have a claim. The best way to avoid a claim is simply prevention. Follow these tips to avoid a drone insurance claim:

  • Always fly your drone in an open space away from trees, power lines and other obstructions.
  • Be sure to follow FAA requirements and register your drone for flying.
  • Do not take your drone to restricted areas such as national parks
  • Do not harass wildlife or attempt to view wildlife up-close with your drone
  • Read your manual to ensure you’re familiar with the sounds and features that your drone has.

We want you to have fun with your drone, but also be sure you’re protected in the event you have a claim involving your drone usage. Call an agent in our office to discuss your plans before you experience a claim.

For answers to everything insurance, trust the insurance agents at George A. Bell & Son. George A. Bell & Son, Inc. is a full service property and casualty, independent insurance agency serving New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and various other states. Founded in 1880 as Bell Brothers Fire Insurance, we continue to be a family owned agency, with the fifth and sixth generations currently continuing the legacy of what those brothers started. We value ourselves on quality insurance, top notch customer service, and a focus on making sure our clients get the best value for their money.

Monthly bills can be daunting and for many, the choice of having food and shelter is more important than keeping burglars or robbers away from your home. However, when times are tough, the last thing you want to do is leave your valuables at risk of being stolen. Thanks to many modern security companies, keeping your home secured isn’t as expensive as it used to be. Consider these fun, techy options for home security on the cheap!

  1. SimpliSafe: Instead of paying an alarm company $1500 or having to sign up for a lengthy contract at $40 per month, SimpliSafe sells do-it-yourself home security systems starting at just $245. Safe a bundle by going for a refurbished system. 24/7 monitoring starts at $.50 per day at time of writing this. You can also use the alarm locally and not pay an activation fee.
  2. Canary: Canary is a great option for studio apartments, offices or other areas that are mainly one room. Canary is a small, all-in-one video device that detects motion and records video. It can send you text messages immediately and start recording when you’re away. If you want, you can call 911 or set off a local alarm to scare away any intruders. At just $149, it is a great do-it-yourself security option. Like the idea but have a bigger house? Canary offers additional camera options to add to your main device to monitory as many places as you’d like. They do offer a cloud based service to keep videos.
  3. Arlo: With wire-free cameras and weatherproof design, Arlo is a good option for securing the outdoor of your home or recording at night. With HD, night vision cameras, your home can stay secure day or night. You can even talk through them using the Arlo App! Receive alerts along with HD video right to your phone so you can review and take action if necessary. Another great option for the do-it-yourselfer who doesn’t want the monthly fees. Arlo comes with a free 7 day cloud storage.
  4. Ring: A video recording doorbell. Now that’s genius. Ring can record motion and you can talk to people through it like an intercom system even if you’re not away. Ring offers many options for security cameras beyond just the doorbell. Starting at $199 it is a great, simple security protection right at your front door.

Home security doesn’t have to be expensive. Utilizing technology and a little do-it-yourself ambition, you can secure your home and keep your valuables safe and secure.

If you are looking for great home insurance coverage, call us today or visit our website.

Attending college is an exciting time for your child. Whether it’s deciding where to go, what to major in or figuring the finances, there are a lot of decisions to think about. Before your child leaves the nest, here are three things to consider when it comes to having the right insurance policy.

1.) Auto Insurance Policy

  • If they are taking their car to college, be sure to update their auto insurance policy. This can easily be taken care of by reaching out to your insurance agent! You’ll want to ensure your child is protected if they get into an accident or experience theft. If your child is attending college out of state, talk with us to see if anything changes on their auto insurance policy.
  • Not taking a car? We suggest still keeping them on your auto insurance policy if they plan to drive when they return home for a visit or in the event they need to borrow a friend’s car on campus.
  • Ask for discounts. See if your child qualifies for any additional discounts.
    • Options include:
      • Good student discount
      • Distant-student discount.
      • Pay in full discount
      • Safe driver discount
      • Data tracking discount

2.) Educate On Liability

College is an amazing social and learning experience. Be sure your child understands the serious consequences of drinking and driving, buying alcohol for kids underage or the other risks that are associated with drugs and alcohol. One poor decision could impact the rest of their life.

3.) If worried about theft while living off-campus, invest in a renters insurance policy.

  • If your child owns valuable items like laptops, televisions, printers, cameras or other expensive items, invest in a renters insurance policy.
  • Construct a full inventory of your child’s items that include model and serial numbers.
  • If your child is living with roommates, remember each child needs their own policy.
  • A renters insurance policy offers more than just covering your property. It can provide important liability coverage.

If my child experiences theft, will I be fully reimbursed?

This is where actual cash value and replacement insurance coverage comes into play. Replacement cost is very simple: It is literally the cost to replace your item with an item of similar quality. Replacement cost policies tend to be a bit more expensive since you are essential getting a brand new item for one that may have otherwise depreciated. Actual cash value is the cost to replace the item minus any depreciation. So, if your child had wear and tear on an expensive electronic device, your insurance would pay out the cost of the electronic minus the depreciation. Talk to your agent for clarification.

Whether it’s changing your child’s auto insurance or investing in renters insurance, let our local experts at George A. Bell & Son help you find the best insurance to fit your needs. For more information about George A. Bell & Son, visit our website.

If you don’t own a home safe, it might be time to make the purchase. Not only can they help with theft of valuables or family heirlooms, but they can also protect special documents. A home safe is priceless when the unexpected occurs. Documents and valuables can be kept out of harm should you ever experience a home fire or burglary. These reasons alone should be a good motive to invest in a home safe.

Where to place your home safe

When shopping for a home safe, make sure it’s heavy enough so a burglar couldn’t walk away with it. If you can, bolt it to the floor or install it into a wall. An additional thought is to store it in a unique place in your home unless you’re using it daily such as in an office. You don’t want to simply not use it because it isn’t convenient. Some additional things to consider is the size of the safe. Safes that are heavy and require a hand truck to move should be placed on the ground floor. Safes that can be moved with a couple of people are okay to have on the second floor. If your main concern is fire, you should try to place your safe on a cement slab.

Twelve items to store in your home safe

  • Passports, original birth certificates, marriage/divorce papers, social security cards
  • Cash
  • Wills or other important legal documents
  • Valuable watches or jewelry
  • SD cards, important computer back up discs or other electronics that are important, but you may not use on a weekly basis
  • Annual tax returns
  • Small firearms
  • Spare car keys and titles to all vehicles
  • Important papers regarding bank accounts, retirement or other investments

Investing in a safe today could prevent an unfortunate headache in the future. While owning a safe is important, having the right home insurance policy is just as valuable. For all insurance questions, call the insurance agents at George A. Bell & Son. We have years of experience and will help you find the best coverage for your needs.