Spring Home Maintenance

The milder days of spring are a perfect time to do a thorough spring cleaning and perform home maintenance.  After a long winter, it is a good idea to spend time on preventive measures to help maintain your home and property throughout the year.  Tasks such as cleaning out your gutters, checking for dead trees and branches,  and cleaning and inspecting home mechanical systems, such as heating and air conditioning equipment, can make spring a season of safety.

Cleaning and maintenance of your home should be done inside and out.  Although the tasks are different, ensuring all the elements of your home are in good working order can help keep your family safe and your maintenance expenses lower over the long run.

Inside Your Home

Here are a few things inside your home that should be inspected to ensure they are in good condition:

  • Electrical Outlets and Cords: Check electrical outlets and cords throughout your home for any potential fire hazards such as frayed wires or loose-fitting plugs.  Outlets, fuse boxes and extension cords also should be checked to make sure they are not overloaded.
  • Fire Extinguishers: Check your fire extinguisher at least once yearly, including the hose, nozzle and other parts, to make sure they are in good condition and that the pressure gauge is in the “green” range.  If necessary, move your fire extinguisher to an accessible place.
  • Air Conditioning: Before turning it on for the season, have your air-conditioning system inspected and tuned up by a professional.
  • Water Heater: Check for leaks and corrosion.
  • Furnace: Clean or replace your furnace filter.
  • Dryers: Dryer lint can build up inside the vent pipe and collect around the duct.  Clean both the clothes dryer exhaust duct and the space under the dryer.  Use a specialized brush to clean out the vent pipe.  Lint can also build up inside the dryer enclosure and should be cleaned and serviced by a professional.
  • Smoke Detectors: Daylight savings time is the perfect time to change the batteries in your smoke detectors.  Inspect each smoke detector to ensure all are in working order, and make sure to test them monthly.  Ideally, there should be at least one smoke detector on each floor of your home, including the hallway or area outside of each set of bedrooms, and one within each bedroom itself.  If necessary, install additional smoke detectors as needed.
  • Light Bulbs: Check each light bulb in every fixture for the correct recommended wattage and replace any burned out bulbs.  Also, consider replacing all high-intensity bulbs with fluorescent or LED bulbs to reduce energy and the amount of heat produced.

Outside Your Home

The cold winter months can do damage to your house as well.  Here are a few things outside your home that should be inspected to ensure they are in good condition:

  • Roof: Check for any damage from snow or ice, including damage from ice dams, and make any necessary repairs to reduce the possibility of leaks.
  • Gutters: Clean leaves and other debris from gutters and downspouts to keep water flowing and reduce the possibility of water damage.
  • Trees: Visually inspect trees for damage or rot, and remove (either yourself or through a contractor) any dead trees that might blow over in heavy winds or during a storm.  Keep healthy trees and bushes trimmed and away from utility wires.
  • Lawn Equipment: Make sure lawn mowers, tractors and other equipment are tuned up before using.  Store oil and gas for lawn equipment and tools in a vented, locked area.
  • Walkways and Driveways: Repair any cracks and broken or uneven surfaces to provide a safe, level walking area.

A little home maintenance in the spring can go a long way to keeping your home safe and secure throughout the rest of the year.

Why is Classic Car Insurance offered by Shults Insurance Agency?

A classic car is not just any car. It is unique in its own way, and it is very much treasured by the owner. So much value is given to the car regardless of the age. It is your pride, passion, and joy and that means it is much more than an ordinary car to you. Therefore, you need to protect it from various risks that might occur, and Shults Insurance Agency is here to help you.

Why Classic Car Insurance?

We have been in the insurance business serving the people of Fort Plain, NY for a long time and take pride in serving the residents of New York. We are a team of passionate and devoted professionals who are always ready to listen and guide you appropriately. We have various insurance options for you to choose from when it comes to protecting your classic car.

Nonetheless, why should you choose Shults Insurance Agency while you can get classic car insurance from almost any insurance company? Here is why.

Freedom

Your classic car is of great value to you, and that is why you have all the right to protect it to the best of your ability. Therefore, we offer you a choice of coverage to get reliable repair services for your vehicle. With our policy, you get to choose a repair shop that pleases you. We want to provide the freedom of choice so you feel confident when your car needs care.

Guaranteed value coverage

You have an option to get insurance for a total covered loss. This means that you get your entire car’s insured value regardless of depreciation. This is just one of the benefits of having a classic car policy.

Original spare parts

As established, a classic car is of great value to its owner. So, to maintain it, you need to use only original spare parts to preserve its uniqueness. Luckily, with Shults Insurance Agency, we only use original parts, and if we don’t have them, we can work out a deal with you to your satisfactory.

So, if you are in Fort Plain, NY, do not hesitate to contact us or visit our offices to get the answers you need. Reach out to our agents to get a quote and find out if your vehicle qualifies for classic car insurance.

 

Things to Know About Renters Insurance

Many renters don’t realize how much they could benefit from having an insurance policy that can help protect their valuables in a life-changing event like a fire or theft.  If you assume that damage to your property in your rental home will be covered by your landlord’s insurance policy, you’re making a mistake.  The owners of rental properties typically purchase only enough insurance to repair or replace their structures, and are not responsible for helping you replace your property.  Insuring your personal property is up to you.

1. Renters Insurance Provides Off-Premises Coverage

Renters insurance not only covers the cost of lost or damaged possessions in your home, but covers your belongings outside of your home as well.   There is coverage if your bicycle is stolen from a bike rack at the park, or if your laptop is taken from your car while you’re at the supermarket.

2. You Can Be Compensated if You’re Forced to Relocate

If your rental home should become uninhabitable, your renters policy typically will help address some of the costs for you to temporarily live elsewhere, up to your policy limits. This benefit usually includes the cost of meals, over and above your normal expenses.

This coverage typically is limited to 30 to 50 percent of your insured personal property. For example, if your belongings were insured for $100,000, the limit on additional living expenses would be $30,000 to $50,000, as outlined in your policy.

3. Actual Cash Value vs. Full Replacement

There are two types of renters coverage, one that pays based on your property’s actual cash value and one that pays based on your property’s replacement cost.

With actual cash value coverage, insurers depreciate lost or damaged items based on their age.  For example, if you owned a 10-year-old couch that was stolen, the actual cash value would be the cost of buying a used couch of comparable age and condition.

If your policy covered your couch at full-replacement value, your insurer would pay based on the cost of a new couch of the same quality without applying depreciation.

4. Your Renters Policy Will Likely Cost Less Than You Think

In 2014, the average annual premium in the U.S. was $190.1 The cost is low because renters don’t need to buy insurance to protect their homes, only the contents.  Compared to the potential cost of replacing your furniture, clothing, and electronics, purchasing a renters insurance policy is a no-brainer.

Sources:
1
http://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/renters-insurance

 

How to Identify and Remove an Ice Dam

Sometimes, even your best efforts to prevent an ice dam may not be enough.  Knowing what an ice dam is, how to identify one and how to help remove it is important to protecting your roof and home from potential damage during the snowy, winter months.

What Is an Ice Dam?

Ice dams may form when water from melting snow freezes into ice at the edge of your roofline.  Without proper roof snow removal, the ice that develops may grow large enough to prevent water from melting snow from properly draining off the roof.  When the water is unable to drain from the roof, it may then back up underneath roof shingles and make its way into your home.

Do You Have an Ice Dam?

Most ice dams develop on the edge of your roof, but they may also form in other locations, depending on the slope, orientation and style of your roof.  Be sure to monitor the weather and your roof for signs of ice dam formations.

  • Look closely at the icicles around the exterior of your house.  If the icicles are confined to the gutters and there is no water trapped behind them, then an ice dam has likely not formed.  Nonetheless, icicles can be a precursor to ice dams.  Depending on their location and size, icicles may also pose a danger if they fall off.  Whenever possible, and if safe to do so, remove icicles from the exterior of your home, making sure not to stand directly beneath them.  If you cannot safely reach the icicles from the ground, consider hiring a contractor to assist in their removal.
  • Check for water stains or moisture in your attic or along the ceiling of exterior walls of your house.  Water stains or moisture may be an indication that an ice dam has formed and water has penetrated the roof membrane.

How to Remove an Ice Dam

Removing an ice dam from your roof immediately after spotting the signs can be critical to helping prevent damage to your home.  One way to remove an ice dam is to melt it using calcium chloride ice melt.

Step 1. Using a roof rake, remove snow 3-4 feet from the edge of your roof, being careful not to damage the roof covering or to allow snow to build up around walking paths or to block emergency exits.

Step 2. Use a calcium chloride ice melt product, which you can generally purchase from your local hardware store.  Be sure not to use rock salt or sodium chloride, which can damage your roof.

Step 3. Fill a nylon stocking with the calcium chloride ice melt.

Step 4. Safely place and position the calcium chloride-filled nylon stocking vertically across the ice dam so that it can melt a channel through the ice.

Step 5. Cover and protect any shrubbery and plants with lightweight tarps near the gutters or downspouts for the duration that the calcium chloride stockings remain in place. This is important because the calcium chloride-saturated water dripping from the roof may damage the shrubbery and plants.

REMEMBER: Using a ladder in snowy and icy conditions may be dangerous. If you cannot safely reach the roof, consider hiring a contractor.

Snowmobiling Safety

Tips to stay safe during snowmobile season

As the snow continues falling, many people are getting excited, because it’s time to break out the snowmobiles and head to the nearest winter recreation spot.  It’s a popular activity, and for good reason: Snowmobiling allows you to explore natural areas that may be hard to access by foot (or snowshoe), and provides a different kind of excitement than skiing or hiking.

Of course, snowmobiling presents some dangers as well.  Here at Shults Insurance Agency, we want you to make it home safely after your day in the snow.  Read on for safety tips from the American Council of Snowmobile Associations — and keep in mind that following these will not only help you stay safe, but also influence equitable treatment of snowmobile access by government, agencies, and landowners.

SPEED: Speed is a major factor in many snowmobile crashes. Always keep your speed slow enough to ensure that you’re in control.

ALCOHOL: Use of alcohol or any other drug that causes impairment is a leading cause of snowmobile-related fatalities.  It’s best to refrain from any use at all before and during outings because of potential effects on vision, reaction time, balance and coordination.  When combined with excess speed in particular, the results can be deadly.

RIDING AT NIGHT: Nighttime snowmobiling is fun, but extra caution should be used. Ride at slower speeds so as not to override your headlights (which generally illuminate your path for about 200 feet).  Faster speeds could mean that you have little or no time to react to an obstacle in your path.

ROADWAYS: Always keep an eye out for vehicles, as many trails are located alongside roadways and can cross over them.  Be sure to stop fully at all stop signs and unmarked road crossings.

CLOSED AREAS: Areas may be closed to snowmobiles due to hazardous conditions, wintering wildlife, non-motorized recreation or by landowner request.  It’s important to honor these closures for safety purposes and to help protect access to other riding areas.

While it’s extremely important to follow these tips for your personal safety, it’s also vital to encourage others to snowmobile safely as well. Helping to educate others will not only promote safety for all snowmobilers, but also protect the sport’s image as well.

Whether you’re a new rider or have been on the trails for years, ask yourself if you could be riding more safely. There are many more winters to come, and we want you to be able to enjoy as many of them as possible!

Roof Snow Removal Tips

While snow-covered roofs can make for a picturesque winter scene, the combination of freshly fallen snow with the melting and refreezing of snow can place stress on the roof of your home or business.  If more than a foot of heavy, wet snow and ice have accumulated on the roof, you should have it removed.

Snow Removal Tips

Clearing the snow off your roof from the gutters or eaves upwards of three to four feet after each winter storm can help prevent ice dams from forming.  Remember to avoid using a ladder in snowy and icy conditions.  This can be extremely dangerous and is best left to professionals.

For Flat Roofs:

If your flat roof is easily accessible from an interior stairway, you may want to shovel the roof, but be careful not to damage the roof covering.

Remember to put safety first any time you are on a roof, especially one that is covered in snow and ice.  If you have any doubt, leave it to professionals.

For Sloped Roofs:

It may be possible to remove the snow and ice from your sloped roof using a roof rake – a long-handled tool designed specifically for this purpose.  Stand on the ground and pull as much of the snow off the eaves as you can safely reach.

If you cannot safely reach the roof, contact a homebuilder, landscaping and roofing contractor, or property maintenance company to remove the snow and ice.  Before hiring a contractor, check their references.  Always be sure any contractor you hire is qualified, insured and bonded.

The amount of snow and ice your roof can support will depend on a number of factors, including the roof type as well as the age and condition of the structure.  But a good rule to keep in mind is if more than a foot of heavy, wet snow and ice has accumulated on your roof, you should have it removed.

Frozen Pipes

With the extreme cold that is settling over our area this weekend, the potential for frozen pipes is high.  Here are some smart tips to help you prevent or address what could easily become a very messy and expensive situation.

  • See to your outdoor water lines: Before cold weather arrives, drain water sprinkler and swimming pool supply lines, and remove, drain and store outdoor hoses. If possible, close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs, and open the outside hose bibs for draining. Keep them open so any remaining water can expand without breaking the pipe. If you can’t shut off the water from the inside, pick up some foam faucet covers.
  • Keep your home warm: Maintain an interior temperature of at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit, even when you’re sleeping or not at home. Seal any drafts and leave interior doors open to help keep an even temperature from room to room.
  • Tend to those pipes: Leave the cabinet doors open in the kitchen and bathroom so your pipes aren’t shut off from the warm air. You can also insulate your pipes with sleeves, heat tape or heat cable. Insulation is especially important in unheated areas, such as your attic, basement, garage or crawl space, and for pipes running along exterior walls. During severe cold spells, you may want to leave all faucets, both hot and cold, running at a slight trickle.
  • Call in a professional: Frozen water in your pipes can cause them to burst, meaning you’ll have a mess on your hands once that water unthaws. So, act quickly to shut off your main water supply, and call in a licensed plumber to see to the situation.

Do You Need Both RV and Car Insurance?

RV insurance is something that most people do not know a great deal about. Many people use their car policy to insure their RVs. Though this is an option, it might not cover everything that might happen to your RV.

How is an RV policy different than an auto policy?

Your auto policy is not going to cover everything that might happen to your RV while you are on the road. Though your auto policy is going to cover things like accidents, major issues with your RV, and even in some cases theft and damage.

Since RV insurance is made specifically for RVs, it is going to be more comprehensive, more encompassing, and it is going to cover a wider range of things that might happen to your RV. Your RV insurance is going to cover a variety of issues you might have including damage to contents in the RV and the actual interior of the RV as well. An RV policy can also help you with roadside issues like towing and can help with liability issues that may arise with your passengers.

If you have an RV, you do not necessarily need both RV and car insurance, but in most cases, you have to have at least an auto policy that covers your RV.  Contact our agents for more information on RV insurance.

Do You Need Snow Tires?

You know it’s coming. Snow and slush. Freezing rain. Maybe even black ice.

But do you know if your tires are ready for all of that?

When driving in upstate New York in the wintertime, your tires just might be the most important safety feature on your car.  The right ones can get you to your destination safely.  The wrong ones?  Well, just look over in the ditch during the next storm.

So how do you figure out what’s best for your vehicle? Here are five things to know about winter tires:

    1. Winter tires really are different than regular tires.
      Winter tires have deeper tread, along with siping (slits in the tread blocks). This increases the number of edges that touch the road, resulting in better traction and handling. They also stay softer than other tires do in cold weather, thanks to special rubber compounds designed specifically for winter use. That helps increase traction as well.
    2. If your area regularly drops below 45 degrees, you probably need winter tires.
      Winter tires don’t just perform better in snow and ice.  They are better for cold weather in general.  So if you get some chilly days where you live, consider a set – a full set. Installing just two winter tires can cause handling problems.
    3. There are two main categories.
      Studless snow and ice tires are designed for extreme conditions.  They are better in deep snow than performance winter tires, which are for light snow and ice.  What about studded tires?  Well, they give you great traction on ice but also damage roads.  And some experts say chains do just as well.
    4. You still need to check the pressure — once a week.
      If your tires are underinflated, they are at risk of failing.  In winter, if they’re overinflated, your traction will be significantly reduced.
    5. You still need to check the tread, too.
      An inexpensive tool found at auto-parts stores can be used for this, or you can use a penny.  Stick the coin into the groove of the tire, with Lincoln’s head down.  Is some of his hair hidden?  Good.  Can you see all of Abe’s hair?  It’s time for new tires.  Right now.

We here at Shults Insurance know that nobody wants to spend too much time thinking about tires. The good news is you don’t have to. Just a little bit of preparation, along with some routine maintenance, will keep you on the road, all winter long.

Black Friday Planning

Hitting the shops on Black Friday has become a ritual that is as all-American as watching fireworks on the Fourth of July. And why wouldn’t it be, considering all the great deals that are out there?

Over the years, however, Black Friday has evolved. Stores that used to open at 5 a.m. now open on Thanksgiving, and Cyber Monday has entered the picture, offering bargain prices online the Monday following Black Friday. All of this means that getting the best deals now requires a bit of strategy.

At Shults Insurance Agency, we want you to get the best deals for your holiday shopping, so here are a few pointers for maximizing your experience:

  • Be willing to forego the shut-eye.  Since many retailers are now opening at 6pm on Thanksgiving, and often staying open all night, overnight shopping is increasingly practical. Accept that you will not get eight hours of sleep Thursday night (and remind yourself that your wallet will thank you).
  • Do your research.  Go online before the holiday and note who has deals on what and when.  Remember to factor in your opportunities for Cyber Monday.
  • Pick your favorites. You probably won’t have time or energy to go everywhere, so narrow your shopping store list down to focus only on your favorite stores or those that are offering sales on exactly what you’re looking for.
  • Create an itinerary. Before you go, make a list of stores in order of priority based on times they open and items you want to snap up. Then, map it so you know your route.
  • Make a budget (and stick to it).  Whether you are shopping for Christmas gifts or just trying to save on some household items, be careful to avoid the unnecessary expense of impulse buys.

We wish you a very productive and enjoyable Black Friday!