Beware! Look Out for After Storm Scams and Fly-By-Night Contractors!

The victims of any natural disaster unfortunately often become victims of scam artists who profit from the misery of others.

If someone selling generators off of a truck on the corner they may have stolen them, or they may be inoperable. At the same, if someone is driving through a neighborhood offering to patch roofs or remove fallen trees they may never be seen again after collecting the deposit or payment. Even if the work is done, beware of price gouging as there have been reports of $7,000 tree and debris removal costs when it was really only a $500 job.

If your home is damaged, be sure to follow these tips when hiring a contractor:

  • Have your insurance company evaluate the damage before arranging repairs to ensure that the work will be covered under your policy.
  • Be wary of anyone who approaches you unsolicited or says they can perform your repairs at a discount with leftover supplies from another job.
  • Verify that the contractor has a license
  • If negotiating with contractors yourself try to get at least three written estimates.
  • Research the contracting company and its reputation by asking for references. In addition you may want to contact the Attorney General’s office at 888-432-9257 and the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org) to see if there are complaints against the company.
  • Check for proof of insurance and verify with the insurer that their policy is current.
  • Never pay the full amount of a repair up front.
  • Read the entire contract, including the fine print, before signing and ensure that the contract includes the required “buyer’s right to cancel” provisions (typically within 3 days).
  • Homeowners may unknowingly have liens placed against their properties by suppliers or subcontractors who have not been paid by the contractor. If the contractor fails to pay them, the liens could remain on your title. Insist on releases of any liens that could be placed on the property from all subcontractors prior to making final payments.
  • Do not sign a certificate of completion or make final payment until you are satisfied with the work performed.
  • Get a written contract that specifies the price, the work to be done, the amount of liability insurance coverage maintained by the contractor, and a time frame for completion. Require a copy of their current certificate of insurance. Pay by credit card, if possible; you may have additional protection if there’s a problem.  Be wary of writing checks made payable to individuals, especially when you are told you are dealing with a company.

Report an instance of price gouging or contractor fraud during a declared state of emergency to the Attorney General’s Office. 

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Don’t Get Stuck Due to the Rut

October is a busy time of the year. It prompts prepping for winter around the home as well as your vehicle, cooler weather, harvests and more tractors on the roadways, the Georgia National Fair, Halloween and more. It’s also a start to a season when drivers are more likely to hit deer that run into the road due to the rut. Use these helpful tools to help avoid potential collisions.

When? Where?

UGA researchers looked at breeding data and compared it to deer-vehicle collision statistics in the state in a county-by-county analysis of peak times for possible deer-vehicle collisions. Be sure to search the map for your county.

Remember! It’s not just deer or property affected! In 2013, 191 people died from hitting an animal, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Slow Down

Reducing speed and maintaining a constant lookout for animals is the best way to avoid collisions. Travel at a speed that will allow you to stop in time if a deer comes into the beam cast by your headlights

Time of Day

As deer are most active at dawn and dusk, they typically are seen roadside during the early morning and late evening – the same times most people are commuting to and from work.

At night, use high beams

When driving at night, use high beam headlights when there is no oncoming traffic. The high beams will better illuminate the eyes of any deer on or near the roadway. If you encounter a deer, switch your headlights to low beam so that the animals are not blinded and will move out of your way.

Don’t swerve!

Brake firmly when you notice a deer in or near your path, but stay in your lane. Many serious crashes occur when drivers swerve to avoid a deer and hit another vehicle or lose control of their cars. Also, from an insurance perspective you are taking control of the situation and should you loose control or strike another’s property, you are held responsible (At-Fault) and will need to file on your Collision coverage vs if you hit the animal it is considered to be NOT at-fault and claimed on your Comprehensive Coverage.

Devices not proven effective

Do not rely on devices such as deer whistles, deer fences and reflectors to deter deer. These devices have not proven effective.

Source: Insurance Information Institute and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

TOO LATE!

Sometimes you can do everything right and still end up hitting a deer. Don’t feel bad in Georgia you have a 1 in 134 chance of hitting a deer according to a study by UGA. If you do find yourself in this situation here are some helpful hints.

 

Move your vehicle

Move your vehicle off the road, if possible, and turn on your hazard lights.

Call the police

They can make sure traffic gets stopped, if needed, and take down information for your insurance claim.

Don’t touch the animal

It could be carrying disease, or if it’s still alive, it could get scared and hurt you.

Document the incident

Take photos of everything — the deer, your car, any injuries to you or your passengers. You should also get contact information from any witnesses who saw the crash.

Contact Us!

Call to start the claims process ASAP! 855-432-2567 or 855 GFB-CLMS.

 

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https://www.facebook.com/GeorgiaFarmBureauInsurance

 

Summer storms can cause major damage!

One of the biggest dangers from thunderstorms is flying debris caused by high winds that can damage buildings and endanger people. Take a look around your home or business and make these improvements to reduce your risk:

  • Replace gravel/rock landscaping materials and walkways with a softer material, such as mulch or dirt. During particularly strong hurricanes, gravel has been found in mail boxes and has even shredded vinyl siding.
  • Trim trees and shrubbery away from buildings and remove any weakened sections of trees that might easily break off and fall onto buildings. Review IBHS’ Reducing Tree Damage guide to learn how to identify common problems, how to prune before a storm, and what to do with storm-damaged trees.
  • Contact your local utility company to trim away any limbs close to utility lines that could potentially pull down lines or even entire poles. When trimming trees it is important never to touch any wires. Trimming should usually be done by a contractor or the local utility company.
  • Promptly remove any debris in your yard or surrounding your business, such as tree trimmings, to reduce the risks of flying debris during high winds. Avoid placing yard debris in an area where it could end up in the street or near drains, which could become clogged during a thunderstorm’s heavy downpour.
  • Secure any parts of fencing that appear weakened or loose. High winds can easily dislodge boards and pieces from a fence, creating flying debris.
  • When thunderstorms are forecast, remove loose objects outside, such as lawn furniture, signs, garbage cans and potted plants.

 

https://disastersafety.org/thunderstorms/high-wind-damage-homes/

 

IBHS Recommendations for Reducing Washing Machine-Related Water Damage

Here is a direct and informitive article from the  International Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) about washing machine water damage!

The failure of a water supply hose is the primary cause of loss. Conduct monthly inspections of the hot and cold washing machine supply lines:

  • Look for signs the supply hose may be ready to fail. These include blisters in the hose, worn tubing, stress cracks or a loose connection.
  • Replace the supply hose with a reinforced steel braided hose if it shows any sign of wear.
  • Tighten the connection if it feels loose. The most common site of failure is near the connection where the hose bends.
  • Replace supply hoses every five years, even if there is no obvious deterioration or wear. Some signs of deterioration may occur from the inside out and may not be visible until it is too late. When replacing washing machine supply hoses, always choose a reinforced steel braided hose over the traditional un-reinforced rubber hose. These hoses will last longer and are far less likely to result in a catastrophic water loss.
Living room carpet flooding

To further reduce the risk of failure, turn off the hot and cold water supply valves when the machine is not in use. Always turn off the valves if you will be away for several days. Screw type valves can be difficult to operate and may develop leaks around the shaft. If a valve is not operating properly or is leaking, replace it immediately. A better solution—and one that will make shutting off the water supply easier—is to install a dual ball valve lever operated valve. This type of valve is easier to operate than a traditional gate valve since it turns on both the hot and cold water supply with a single lever.

Finally, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to reduce the risk of other types of washing machine-related water losses:

  • Never overload a machine
  • Always use a detergent designed for this type of use
  • Try to operate washing machines when someone is home

 

https://disastersafety.org/plumbing/water-damage-risks-from-a-washing-machine-leaking/

 

Avoid Child Heatstroke

Always Look Before You Lock
  • Always check the back seats of your vehicle before your lock it and walk away.
  • Keep a stuffed animal or other memento in your child’s car seat when it’s empty, and move it to the front seat as a visual reminder when your child is in the back seat.
  • If someone else is driving your child, or your daily routine has been altered, always check to make sure your child has arrived safely.
Keep in Mind a Child’s Sensitivity to Heat
  • In 10 minutes, a car’s temperature can rise over 20 degrees.
  • Even at an outside temperature of 60 degrees, the temperature inside your car can reach 110 degrees.
  • A child dies when his/her body temperature reaches 107 degrees.
Understand the Potential Consequences of Kids in Hot Cars
  • Severe injury or death
  • Being arrested and jailed
  • A lifetime of regret

Via: SafeCar.gov

Power Windows

Children can hurt themselves with power windows. Many kids are injured when a window closes on their finger, wrist, or hand. Some kids have been strangled by power windows.

Prevention Tips
  • Never leave your children alone in a vehicle for any reason.
  • Teach your children not to play with window switches.
  • Teach your children not to stand on passenger door arm rests.
  • Properly restrain your children in car seats or seat belts to prevent them from accidentally activating power windows and sunroofs.
  • Look and make sure your kids’ hands, feet, and head, are clear of windows before raising the windows.
  • Never leave the key in the ignition or in the “on” or “accessory” position when you walk away from your car.
  • If available, activate the power window lock switch so that your children cannot play with the windows.
What You Need To Know, Now.
  • All new vehicles will have “pull to close” switches, which require you to pull up on them to close the window. Older vehicles may have window switches that a child can accidentally step or put weight on, easily causing a window to close.
  • Some vehicles have power windows that automatically reverse when an object (such as your child’s arm or neck) is in the path of a closing window. Check both the individual vehicle rating pages on http://www.safercar.gov and your owner’s manual to see if a vehicle is equipped with this safety technology.

Source: safecar.gov