Armstrong Insurance was honored to be presented with Outstanding Corporation on National Philanthropy Day by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Golden Horseshoe Chapter. This award was sponsored by the Oakville Community Foundation
Vacations are for reducing stress, not adding to it. Unfortunately, things can happen to make any vacation a stressful experience, no matter how beautiful the locale or destination.
Some things you are not able to control, such as the weather or flight delays. Other things, such as missing documents or stolen credit cards, have the potential to interrupt your fun but do not have to end your vacation if you are prepared.
Before you pack your bags and turn on your email out-of-office message, here are six tips to make your vacation one for the books:
Make Copies of Your ID and Passport: Make two photocopies of your license or passport in case either is lost or stolen. Bring one copy and store it separately from your original, and leave another with a friend or relative. The U.S. Government also offers the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, a free service for U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad. The program permits enrollment with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate, which can assist during an emergency such as a lost or stolen passport.
Streamline Your Wallet: Lost wallets are the leading cause of identity theft. Only carry the card(s) you plan to use on your trip, and leave your checkbook and the rest of your cards at home. If you decide to bring more than one credit card, consider stashing the extra, along with account information and customer service numbers for the cards you have with you, in a hotel safe or other secure location.
Check Out Guides: Before you book that zip-lining, parasailing or river rafting trip, check online for any customer reviews. Seeing what others have to say about the company and the excursion can help you choose a safe and well-run adventure.
Travel like a Local: When visiting any location, know your surroundings and plan your route in advance. Be aware of how the locals talk and dress, and consider whether certain actions will make you stand out as a tourist.
Check the Weather: Into every life—and vacation—a little rain must fall, so take steps to protect yourself from lightning, hail, thunderstorms and severe weather by monitoring the local weather and packing the appropriate gear. Also, keep tabs on the weather at home to make sure your property is protected.
Avoid Oversharing Online: Posting photos or checking in on social media sites advertises your absence from home. Real-time updates can be tempting, but wait until you return safely home before sharing your adventures.
Now that you’re all packed and ready to go, are you ready to leave your home? Help save yourself some worry about what could be happening at home by protecting it from theft and damage while you are away. Here is a checklist we have developed to help you have a relaxing and peaceful vacation.
Make sure all electrical appliances are turned off.
Clean the refrigerator of all perishable foods, and take out the garbage.
Lock all windows and doors.
Arrange to have the newspaper and mail held until your return, or have them picked up by a trusted neighbor.
Arrange to have your lawn mowed (or snow shoveled) while you are away. Ask a neighbor to set out your trash on collection day and then retrieve empty cans and recycling bins the same day.
Let a trusted neighbor know you will be away and have them keep an eye on your home. It is a good idea to leave your vacation address and telephone number with a neighbor so you can be reached in case of an emergency.
Never leave your house key hidden outside your home.
Set timers on interior lights.
Make sure to unplug televisions, computers and appliances susceptible to lightning and power surges.
Advise your alarm company and local police if you will be gone for an extended period.
Store jewelry and valuable items in a safe-deposit box.
Arrange for the care of pets.
Set the heating system to provide minimum heat of 55 degrees.
Make sure your vacation is relaxing and worry free by following these tips. Stay safe and have a great summer!
Have you ever asked yourself, What is a backwater valve? and Do I need one?
A mainline backwater valve is placed directly into the sewer lateral at the foot of your basement wall. The device allows sewage to flow in only one direction- out of your house. When sewage begins to move towards your basement, the valve closes. Some municipalities offer subsides to offset the cost of installing a backwater valve, as long as you follow their rules. Make sure you install the type of valve recommended by your municipality. In most cases they require the normally open (or open-point) mainline backwater valve.
Installation of the backwater valve may reduce the cost of insurance or be required as a condition of insurability. This valve is installed directly into the sanitary sewer lateral, and serves to protect all home plumbing fixtures from sewer backup.
When Installing Backwater Valves
The valve should be installed based on the manufacturer’s installation instructions, which have specifications for placement and grading. Proper placement and installation of the backwater valve is extremely important. If placed in the wrong location relative to other plumbing fixtures on the sanitary level, the valve could be bypassed and provide no protection. This can in turn lead to sewer backup pressure which can cause cracks to the basement floor and lead to flooding.
If the weeping tiles are still connected to the sanitary sewer lateral downstream if the valve, sewage could be forced back into the weeping tiles and lead to structural damage to the foundation, which can also lead to infiltration flooding.
Like other parts of your home, backwater valves require periodic maintenance to ensure proper performance. An improperly maintained valve may fail during a flood. Most mainline backwater valves come with a see-through top so you can check to see if it is clogged with debris.
The valve should be checked regularly to ensure that it will function properly when it is needed. YOU will likely need the help of a qualified plumber to carry out maintenance of the valve.
After a backwater valve has been installed do not use plumbing, such as flushing toilets, running dishwashers, washing machines, or running taps, etc. during intense rainfall. If the home plumbing is used when the backwater valve is closed, water will have no way to exit your home until the valve has reopened.
If you’re not sure if the valve is closed, check it- you should be able to see it through the clear, plastic top.
And always remember to let your insurance carrier know if you have one!
You’ve worked hard to purchase your personal property and want to make sure your family stays safe within your home. Below is a quick summary with tips and considerations for two fire prevention and protection devices to help you protect what’s most important to you.
Here are some tips to remind you of what can and must be done to provide peace of mind and ensure you are abiding by the law.
Homeowners must install and maintain smoke alarms on every level of their home. They are best located outside sleeping areas. Landlords are responsible to ensure any rental properties they own have working and well maintained smoke alarms.
Tenants must not remove batteries or tamper with alarms as this is against the law.
Failure to abide by the smoke alarm requirements could result in a fine up to $50,000 for an individual.
Make sure you test your smoke alarms monthly. This is important whether you have a battery operated or hard wired alarm.
Vacuum your smoke alarm every six months to remove any build up or dust or insects that could cause false alarms.
If you have a hard wired alarm already and it is time to replace it, it must be replaced with another hard wired alarm as required by the building code.
Replace batteries at least once a year or whenever the low-battery warning occurs.
Replace the actual alarm at least every 10 years.
To assist with false alarms due to cooking areas or steam from a shower, relocate the alarm to an area where it will not be set off so easily.
Another way to lessen false alarms is to install a photo-electric detection device if you are not able to relocate the alarm from outside sleeping areas.
Portable Fire Extinguishers
This is another protection device you should have in your home to assist in detaining a small fire before the fire department arrives. Below are some tips to keep you and your family safe.
Save lives first then property second.
Always have an escape plan.
There are three basic fire classes:
Flammable liquids, and
Ensure when purchasing a fire extinguisher it is labelled with the class or classes of fire it is best suited to fight.
The extinguisher need to be ULC tested so you know it is reliable
Locate your extinguisher in a visible location, high on a wall, near an exit and away from any heat sources
Take the time to train yourself and other adults in the house on how to use the extinguisher- an extinguisher is only as effective as the person using it.
These are only a few ideas and suggestions. It is always a good idea to visit your local fire and rescue services website or go in person to the fire department to gain knowledge on how to protect you and your property.
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.
Our Spring Home Maintenance Checklist:
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.
Wintery weather is upon us and many of you have planned vacations to sunny destinations. Many Canadians seek warmer climates in our colder months to escape Old Man Winter’s touch for a little while.
Or perhaps the first snowfall makes you yearn for a vacation in a colder climate. Skiing, snow shoeing, ice fishing and snowmobiling trips are the winter vacations of choice for some as well.
Before you venture out on vacation, be sure to contact your insurance provider to ensure your home and belongings are protected, and continue to stay that way while you are away. Each insurance company has different requirements to ensure your coverage remains in effect when you are away from home for an extended period of time, especially during the heating season.
It is always best to have a competent person checking on your home daily to make sure your heat is on, and there has been no freezing of any pipes or appliances.
Outside of what your home insurance provider requires, we have a few pointers to help keep your home safe and sound:
Arrange to have someone you trust collect any flyers, mail or papers that can land at your front door while you are away.
Be sure to hire someone (or enlist a friend) to keep the snow removal up to date while you are away. Nothing screams “away for the winter” than a snowed-in home. If you have sidewalks on your property, you will need to ensure they are kept clean as well.
Make your home appear lived in. Install timers on indoor and outdoor lights to come on at different times through out the day.
If you have a monitored security system, be sure to advise them of your travel plans, as well as contact information while you are away.
Unplug all unnecessary electronics and appliances.
Do not post your travel plans on social media. You don’t need the world to know your house is empty for a period of time and its easy for would-be thieves to know you aren’t around.
Store any valuables you aren’t taking with you in a safety deposit box.
Make photocopies of all of your documents you will need in your travel and leave a copy with a friend or relative, as well as packing another copy separate from where you carry the originals.
Make copies of your itinerary, addresses and phone numbers where you can be reached while you are away and provide it to reliable friends and family members. You never know when someone might need to get in touch with you.
Whether your travel plans are to find sunnier skies, an uninterrupted golf season, extended beach time, or a day on the slopes in the brisk winter air, we know your relaxation and peace of mind will be at its peak if you take the time to ensure your property and belongings at home are well looked after.
As we welcome October, we will also welcome cooler weather, changing leaves, Thanksgiving feasts and pumpkin spice lattes….mmmm.
Fall also brings with it shorter days, falling leaves, cold rain and the sad inevitable slide into winter weather.
Here at the Insurance House, we would like to share some tips to get ourselves prepared for our friend Old Man Winter, as he approaches:
Have your furnace inspected prior to the heating months
Have your chimney cleaned and inspected by a professional prior to using a wood burning fireplace or stove for the first time this season
Turn off outdoor faucets and remove hoses so that your pipes don’t freeze.
Remove leaves and other debris from your downspouts and eavestroph to ensure water and melting snow is being diverted away from your home
Put away outdoor furniture and appliances. If left outside and unsecured, not only can they come to be damaged in a storm, but could also contribute to damage to your home.
Do not store propane tanks indoors or in attached garages.
Get your car ready for winter. Keep an ice scraper and an extra pair of mittens in the car. Make sure your heating and defrost ventilation are in good order. Top up your windshield washer fluid with winter solution. Replace your windshield wiper blades. Install winter tires (and then call us to have the discount added to your policy).
So get out there and enjoy the season’s brisk air, cozy sweaters, scarves and boots and be sure to keep your rake handy.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Weekend and enjoy all our wonderful fall colours.
Most tow truck operators provide a fair and valuable service to those in need, however, some operators have made side deals with repair shops or storage facilities that pay them a commission for bringing in your vehicle. Not only is this practice unethical, it can result in poor quality repairs or hefty storage, administrative and environmental charges if you decide to change shops.
If your vehicle is not drivable after being involved in an accident, have the tow truck operator take it to a Collision Reporting Centre (CRC), if one is available in your area. The centre will pay the towing bill on your behalf and provide 24 hours FREE storage. Your insurance company will then authorize a damage appraisal and arrange to have your vehicle towed to a repair facility of your choice.
If a tow truck operator promises you a free courtesy car, additional bodywork at no cost, or offers to pay your deductible, you are likely being scammed. To avoid being a victim, Do Not Sign a Waiver allowing your vehicle to be towed from the Collision Reporting Centre. A reputable towing company will never ask you to sign a waiver.
If you are involved in an accident, call us as soon as possible. We’ll answer all your questions.