Monday, October 31, 2016

Modern houses burn faster!

Since 1977 number of home fires has gone down by nearly 50%, but amount of total damage has gone up about seven folds.

One can say inflation, bigger homes, higher valuations and homes being built closer together are to blame, but there is actually something else going on.  Shockingly newer/modern houses burn about 8 times faster compared to an older home!

Flashover-intense heat that causes the entire room to be engulfed in flames now occurs less than five minutes after the fire starts, but it used to take about 30 minutes.  Fast fires give less time to respond and contain the fire.  Here is why modern homes burn faster:

  1. Building materials- 2x4 are no longer actually 2x4.  These days 2x4 actually measure 1.5x3.5.  Less material to burn means faster collapse time.  Instead of natural wood we now use particle boards and other man made materials.  Not only that these modern materials are less dense and but they also contain petroleum, so naturally they will burn up quickly.
  2. Open layouts- less compartmentalization will allow fire to spread more quickly.
  3. Synthetic furnishings-Almost everything in our homes (carpets, drapes, cushions, pillows, mattresses) now is made of synthetic materials.  Synthetic materials burn up quicker than traditionally used materials, things we used in the past.
  4. Window construction- what fuels fire is oxygen and much of it will come through windows.  New windows, on average, burn three times faster than old windows.  Average fail time for newer windows is about 4 mins 30 secs.  Average fail time for older windows is little over 16 mins.

What can you do with this information?  Obviously you want a sounds structure, safe home, but you also want to be able to afford it, that’s why we have non-traditional building materials- to build easier, faster, cheaper.  But if you care and can afford, building with metal, concrete, brick, and solid wood, will keep your home and family safer.  Choosing a fire-resistant window is extremely important; steel framing and tempered glass is the best choice when thinking about fire safety.

August issue of National Underwriter had an article written by Sheila E Courtney, Director of Risk Management at PURE.  This blog post is a summary of Sheila's thorough article.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Windshield Safety Considerations.

Did you know that your windshield is an integral part of structural support of the cabin of your vehicle?

Windshield is not just to shield the wind.  Windshield is a structural element of a car, just as important as any other part.

In front end collision the windshield provides up to 45% of structural integrity of the cabin and in a rollover, up to 60%.  This is significant, but not so obvious; that's the reason for this blog.

Substandard windshield, incorrectly installed windshield or a simplest chip or a crack will diminish windshields integrity.  In a front end collision any of these factors can make a significant difference, and even more so in an accident where vehicle rolls over.

In the world of windshield replacement there are a few standards, most notably mounting standards and glazing standards.  Windshield itself has its own important standard as well.  All this is important information, but not to you.  You don't need to know any of this, if you go to any reputable windshield replacement place, qualified technicians will take care of everything.  It is unlikely that you will be sold substandard windshield or that windshield installation will be faulty.   What is likely is you ignoring a chip or a crack.  The most important information in this blog is that a chip or a crack will diminish windshields integrity and put you and your passengers in unnecessary peril. 
Cool picture.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Flood Insurance? What is it, do you need it?

You own a home, so you buy homeowners insurance.  Standard homeowners insurance policy has water (flood) exclusion.  So you think, I'll buy flood insurance and that will take care of that.  Not so fast, it might not.

Flood insurance only covers for one peril and that is flood (obviously).  But what is considered flood?
Part of flood definition that matters to you is this:
Flood is excess of water on land that is normally dry.  Partial or complete inundation of normally dry land of two or more acres OR two or more properties, one of which is yours.

This means that flood policy will not pay for flood loss unless two or more properties are affected or at least two acres of normally dry land.

BUT, standard homeowners policy has this water exclusion (paraphrasing): any water coming from the outside, whether or not driven by wind.  Well known, straight forward exclusion, (but to be clear standard policy will cover water damage that arises out of leaking roof or broken pipe.)

POSSIBLE GAP:  If you have a situation where only your home or property is affected by unusual excess water /flood, you will not have coverage under your homeowners policy, but you also won't have coverage under your flood policy.
So if you have a lake/pond/brook that might flood your property, there is 100% chance that homeowners policy will not provide coverage and flood policy will kick in only if flooding happens on more than two acres or at least two properties.

Do you need flood insurance?  If your property is in a zone where there is high risk of flooding, mortgagee will require you buy flood insurance and premium will be high.  If you not in a high risk zone, flooding can still happen, but fortunately these zones qualify for preferred rates and in most cases it only costs between $200-$300 a yr, depending on how much coverage you buy.

If you have any questions and wonder whether or not you need flood insurance contact me and we can discuss it in more detail.

Irfan Sehic
Insurance Agent 
Green Insurance Agency 
PO Box 640
Burlington, VT 05402

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Auto Insurance - HIGHER LIMITS!

I started my insurance career 10 years ago and I have always denied insuring anyone who wanted to buy limits of insurance lower than bodily injury $100,000 per person, $300,000 per accident, $50,000 property damage.

No matter what, this is my lowest option, and I can't think of last time when I had to even talk about why get lower limits of liability.

I am now at a conclusion that my new minimum limit is $250,000/$500,000/$100,000, or $500,000/$500,000/$100,000 and talking to everyone about $500,000 combined single limit.  No exceptions.


The difference in premium is insignificant; in most cases we are talking about $40-$90 a yr difference.  

It's a right thing to do.  As an agent I have to do my best to advise my clients for what's good for them.  Not what's good for me, or insurance carrier, but the client.  (For example Geico often sells state minimum limits of liability.  Why?  I think it's because of this: You are paying $1,000 a yr for your auto insurance, and Geico is only covering you for $200,000.  If you pay $1,100 a yr Geico gets extra 10% out of you, but Geico could pay $500,000 (250% more or $300,000 more).  If you are Geico this additional $100 is not as worth as that first $1,000.)  As a consumer I want to protect myself and I want my hard earned money to be spent where it matters.  $50 spent on extra coverage is money better spent than $50 spent into abyss.  

Best case scenario is I spend a lifetime of buying high limits of insurance and spending $50 extra a yr for this coverage, for nothing, I hurt no one and no one hurts me.  In 60 yrs of buying insurance I would of spend extra $5,000 let's say; but if there is one time I get in a even a smallest accident (very likely that it will happen) I and person I hurt is covered.  Being involved in an accident is crazy business.  You will have payments out of your pockets, you will be late somewhere, you will be hurt, you will be angry, there will not be a road map on how to deal with things, you will be confused, you will question everything.  Many little things combined will make any accident an awful experience.  Even a smallest accident can be a life changing experience, so for extra $50 a year don't make it one that puts you and others in financial peril.  With accidents there is one thing you can control and that is how much your finance will suffer, everything else is out of your control.

If you are thinking well I am a good, careful driver, I don't need high limits of liability, think again.  In VT 1 in 6 people drive without any insurance.  I don't have statistics on this, but conservative guesstimate based on 10 yrs experience is that 1 in 6 also has state minimum limits of liability ($25,000 per person $50,000 per accident) and probably 1 in 6 has other liability limit that is not minimum but close to it.  So half the drivers on the road have either no insurance or not enough insurance.  If you are hit by one of these drivers your uninsured/under insured liability would cover you. High uninsured/under insured limit isn't your only protection, but it covers your health care cost, lost income, pain and suffering, last two can't be bought elsewhere.

This blog post is meaty and maybe boring, but it's something that should be taken seriously and sometimes there is no fun way explaining serious subjects.  Thank you for reading and as always if you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact me.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

What to do about blind spots?

18% of car accidents that occur on roadways take place during lane changes.  Blind sports are to blame for most of these accidents.

Blind spots are avoidable.  Newer cars have blind spot sensors and lane departure warning systems, but technology will not eliminate accidents, and not all cars have sensors. 

To reduce the possibility of accidents that arise from lane changes we have to minimize blind spots.  Three things can be done:

    1.  Properly adjust your mirrors.  Here is a great 4 step way to ensure minimum blind spots:

    2.  Blind spot mirrors.  They are extremely useful and extremely inexpensive.  A pair of blind spot mirrors cost anywhere from $2-$6.  There is no reason not to have blind spot mirrors.

    3.  Always check for blind spots.  Even with properly adjusted mirrors and blind spot mirror checking blind spots is a must.
Regular mirror does not show the new vehicle, but blind spot mirror does.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Easy things we should all do to prevent fires in residential structures.

Vermont Department of Public Safety, Division of Fire Safety comes up with an annual report that gives us valuable insight regarding fire and fire related issues.
Not surprisingly, the number one and number two leading causes of fire in residential structure are from heating and cooking.  Heating and cooking is responsible for 78% of all residential structural fires in 2014.

Accidents like these are unfortunate, at least to say.  No matter how many times we hear about a fire, the feeling of surprise, terror, and fear is there.  This, I think, is something we can all agree on.  But our actions don't seem to be align with this, maybe because human actions not always include reason and logic, maybe because we are too busy, maybe because we are not busy enough? 
Many, if not all, residential fires can be prevented, if we can do the following: 

1.  Clean your chimney regularly.  It's expensive, but not as expensive as dealing with fire loss.  (How many times chimney should be clean depends on few factors, talk to your professional chimney cleaner.)

2.  Have a fire extinguisher and know how to use it.  Try practicing and don't stop until you feel confident you can pull a trigger.  Every cooking fire can be prevented if fire extinguisher is readily available and used correctly. 

3.  Make sure your smoke and CO2 detectors are operational.  Use photoelectric type smoke detector as they are better at detecting smoldering fire.

This is not part of the fire safety report, but last month one of my clients had a big fire.  Fire was caused by a scented plug-in that was in a bathroom.  Fire Marshall/Fire Investigator told us that because the bathroom door was closed that prevented fire to rapidly spreading and gave enough time to fire department to respond.  Fire Marshall's exact words were "this little hollow door save the entire building, this is what saved your building."  When I got back home I threw away scented plug-in from our bathroom, and told my wife to always close the doors all rooms. 

An actual photo from the scene of a fire in an apartment.

Report is available for everyone:

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

What should a Vermonter have in his or her car?

You all have probably seen it before, a list of things we are suppose to have in our car.  Of course it's good to know, but most of the time lists are full of obvious things, so putting another detailed list of what we should have and why we should have it seems silly and almost condescending.

But there is one item on the list of things we should have in our car that most of us don't have.

I am talking about a First Aid Kit.  I don't know why people don't have it, because we all know that having a First Aid Kit in a car is sexy.  Being prepared in general is sexy.  If you have ever been in Europe, you have probably noticed that every car has First Aid Kit, and in some countries it's required by law.  Emergency First Aid Kit is small, cheap, and a must have, so take time and buy one today.  Hopefully to never use it, but go ahead buy one anyway.
And now just for a good measure below is a list of all the things one should have in his or her car.
  • Windshield scrapper 
  • Extra windshield fluid
  • Phone charger
  • Jumper cables
  • Flashlight
  • Medications
  • Food and water
  • Tire pressure gauge 
  • Shovel
  • Cat litter
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Extra clothes
  • Blanket
  • Spare tire
  • Camera
  • Multitool, something that can cut through seat belt and break a window
  • Flares or reflective triangle-most people don't have it, but they should, because being prepared is sexy
  • Carrier pigeon to carry out your messages, in a case you don't have cell phone service.  Just kidding carrier pigeons are  extinct.  Once there were around 4-5 billion of them in the US, but discovery of telegraph and phone, made them obsolete.  Last carrier pigeon died in 1914.  We couldn't even keep like a million of them.
There are so many other things that you can have, but than you would be MacGyver and that you are not.  So use common sense and be prepared.

First Aid Kit, really a must have in every vehicle.

Carrier pigeon, would be cool to have, but we can't because they are extinct.