Your Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

Is your home ready for cooler weather? As summer winds down, it can be a good time to check seasonal home tasks off your list.

Then you can kick back and enjoy your home with whatever makes you feel like fall — decorating with pumpkins, drinking seasonal beverages or other activities.

Complete these six maintenance chores before fall and winter arrive to get your home ready for the changing seasons.

  1. Clean your gutters.
    You should clean out the gutters twice a year to prevent clogs. Clear gutters keep water flowing away from your house, which helps prevent exterior damage.

  2. Get your heating system serviced.
    It’s a good idea to schedule an annual furnace or HVAC inspection and cleaning. Catching a small issue early could prevent a larger repair down the line. You also don’t want to discover that the heat isn’t working when you need it most.

  3. Have your chimney cleaned.
    If you have a fireplace (gas or wood-burning), schedule an appointment with a professional chimney sweep before lighting the first fire of the season.

  4. Prepare pipes and garden hoses.
    Water left in outdoor pipes and hoses could freeze and cause damage over the winter. Drain and disconnect garden hoses and cover external faucets to protect them from low temperatures.

  5. Inspect fire extinguishers, smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
    Replace dead batteries and any devices that are more than a decade old. If you have a fire extinguisher in your kitchen, make sure the pressure gauge is charged, the lock pin is in place and the discharge nozzle is clear.

  6. Seal leaks around windows and doors.
    Keep cold air out and warm air in. Sealing leaks will make your home stay at a more comfortable temperature, and it can also help lower your energy bills.

Maintaining a safe home is important no matter the time of year. If you have questions about your homeowners insurance, you can always get in touch to ask about your policy.

The Truth Behind 5 Car Insurance Myths

Have you always thought the color of your car affects your premium? Or that one traffic ticket could send your insurance costs skyrocketing?

These and other assumptions about car insurance may be common, but they aren’t accurate.

Keep reading to learn the truth about these five popular auto insurance myths — then you can make more informed decisions about which vehicle to buy next or what kind of coverage you need.

Myth #1: Car color impacts your premium.
Have you avoided buying a red car because you thought it would be pricier to insure? Luckily, car color doesn’t factor into your policy premiums. What’s important when it comes to insurance is the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle after an accident, and the hue isn’t a factor.

Myth #2: Personal insurance covers business use of the car.
Whether you’re self-employed or drive for a ridesharing company, personal car insurance isn’t sufficient. If you’re using your vehicle for commercial purposes, reach out to make sure you’re properly insured.

Myth #3: Your credit score doesn’t affect your insurance.
Your credit score is one factor (among several) that may be used to determine your reliability. Too many negative events on your credit history can result in higher premiums.

Myth #4: Traffic violations automatically increase your premium.
One minor traffic ticket won’t necessarily increase your insurance expenses; however, a record of violations or a few severe ones could result in higher premiums.

Myth #5: Another driver in your car is covered by their insurance.
Auto insurance follows the car, not the driver. If a driver who isn’t on your policy uses your car, your insurance will still be the primary one used to cover any damages. It’s best to review your auto policy before letting anyone else drive your car.

Get in touch if you have questions about your car insurance coverage.

Solving a Pest Problem in Your Home

Do you have uninvited guests in your home? Depending on where you live, pests could be a year-round or seasonal issue, but they are never welcome. Nothing shatters your sense of peace and comfort in your home like discovering mice, termites, ants or other pests looking for food and shelter.

Luckily, there are tried-and-true methods for dealing with bugs and rodents in both the short and long terms. Keep reading to discover the best pest control solutions for your home.

Short-Term Pest Control Solutions
Once you’ve spotted signs of an infestation in your home, here’s what you can do to control the problem immediately:

  • Use poison and traps to eliminate ants, roaches, flies, mice or whatever pests you’re dealing with.
  • Treat your pets with flea medicine.
  • Seal entry points to keep bugs and rodents out.
  • Keep your home clean, and don’t leave food out.
  • Remove standing water that could be a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Long-Term Pest Control Solutions
Once you get things under control for now, you’ll want to address the root cause to keep pests away for the long run.

  • Fix moisture issues or leaks that may be attracting pests.
  • Patch up cracks or gaps in your home’s structure.
  • Insulate your attic to keep mice and other rodents from getting in.
  • Proactively schedule regular pest inspections and treatments.

While no one enjoys dealing with pest issues, regular maintenance and prevention can help keep your home a haven — but only for you and your human guests.

Have questions about homeownership or insurance? Reach out so we can discuss your coverage.

Common Sense Home Security Essentials

Is your house as secure as it could be? 

With so much technology in the home security space, it can be easy to overlook commonsense tactics that protect your home. Simple measures are often the most effective, from exterior illumination to reinforcing doors and windows.

Here’s a list of home security essentials every homeowner should implement.

Choose a security system.

Options range from DIY security cameras to professional monitoring systems. Consider the upfront and monthly costs of different security systems. 

You can also add smart-home abilities and smoke and carbon monoxide monitoring. 

Generic security and “beware of dog” signs may also deter burglars. 

Lock doors and windows.

You may be surprised by the number of home burglaries involving an unlocked front door or open window. 

Take inventory of your windows and doors: Are any locks broken? Do any doors need to be reinforced or replaced? When moving into a new home, it’s always a good idea to change the locks so you can be sure you’re the only one with a key.

Store spare keys in a lockbox and place the box in an inconspicuous location that only you know how to find.

Light up your home’s exterior at night.

Someone looking for a house to rob will prefer the cover of darkness. So, you can scare off would-be burglars by investing in outdoor lighting. 

Whether you opt for motion-activated or solar-powered lights, keep your open areas and paths well-lit. You can also use a timer or smart light bulbs to control when your outdoor lights are on and off.

Store valuables in a safe.

While plenty of big, fancy and expensive models are on the market, a small safe works fine for most valuables. Be sure to bolt your safe to the floor or wall. Wall safes can also be covered with artwork or framed photos.

Have questions about your home insurance? Just reach out to us for help.

How to Tell if You Need a New Roof

When’s the last time you looked at your roof? Most of us take for granted the shelter a roof provides … until something goes wrong. 

While a typical roof can last as long as 25 to 30 years, individual shingles may fall apart, and small leaks can occur in the meantime. With spring in full bloom, April is a good month to examine your roof. 

Here are six signs that your roof needs repair or replacement. 

1. Missing or Cracked Shingles

A missing shingle means the adhesive holding shingles in place has started to weaken and separate. Cracked shingles are the result of expansion and contraction in hot and cold temperatures. 

Either situation means the structural integrity of your roof may be compromised and puts you at risk for water damage to your home. 

2. Water Damage

If your roof has sagging or bulging areas, it could be a sign of a weakened roof deck, which can be caused by water damage or rot.  Water stains and noticeable leaking in your attic are signs of water damage to your roof. This is usually due to missing or damaged shingles.

3. Age of the Roof

Look at your home inspection report or home improvement records to check the age of your roof. If it’s been more than 20 to 25 years, it’s probably time for a new roof.

4. Algae or Moss Growth

Seeing green on your roof is an indicator that it’s retaining moisture, which can cause damage over time. You can use a removal service or clear the moss yourself, using a stiff brush.

5. Light Shining Through

If you can see daylight through your roof, this is probably the clearest sign of damage that needs to be immediately repaired. 

6. Granules in Your Gutters

While it’s normal for some grit or granules to fall off your shingles, excessive amounts of grit in your gutters may be cause for concern. This could be a sign that your shingles are breaking down, which is another indicator that your roof needs to be replaced.

Have questions about your home insurance coverage? Just reach out to get help.

Why Bundle Your Home and Auto Policies?

Are you missing out on savings? If you have insurance policies with more than one company, the answer is most likely yes. 

The commercials are true: Bundling insurance policies is often cheaper and more convenient when done with a single insurer. But why? 

While bundling may not be right for everyone, here is the how – and the why – on insurance bundling. Then you can make your own decision.

What does it mean to bundle my home and auto insurance? 

Bundling your home (or renter’s) and auto insurance means getting both policies from the same insurer. You can ask for a quote to see your potential savings before you make a switch.

1. Save money when you bundle policies.

You probably have to have home and auto insurance anyway, so you want to get the best possible deal on your coverage. You may be eligible for a multipolicy discount when you get more than one insurance policy from the same company. This is in addition to any other discounts you receive, such as for a good driving record.

2. Simplify payments and organization.

Bundling your insurance coverage can help you simplify with one monthly payment instead of several. It’s also easier to keep up with your policies when you can view all your insurance documents in one place. Check your coverage, ask a question, and file a claim — all from the same online portal or mobile app. If your insurance needs to change in the future, you just have one phone call to make. 

3. Increase your convenience as a customer.

If you file claims often, it’s better to have a company that knows and values you as a customer. And even if you don’t file many claims, holding multiple policies with a single insurer gives more business to a company that has given you superior customer service in the past.

If you have any questions, reach out for help.

What pet damage does insurance cover?

Pets are a part of the family for many homeowners and renters, but they’re a big responsibility and can also be expensive.

One of the most important things for pet owners to understand is what pet-related damages your insurance policies cover.

Keep reading if you want to learn more about why you need to declare your pets on your homeowners or renters insurance — and why liability coverage, which is different from medical pet insurance, is so important.

Q: Does my homeowners insurance policy cover damage caused by pets?
A: The first step is to be upfront about any pets in your home. Otherwise, you may not be eligible for coverage if your pet hurts someone or damages their property. The liability and medical payment part of your policy would cover this type of incident.

Homeowners insurance usually doesn’t cover any damage your pets cause to your property, such as furniture or electronics.

Q: Does renters insurance cover pets?
A: It’s likely that your renters policy may also offer liability coverage for the types of damage mentioned above. Check your policy for specifics, and reach out with any questions.

Q: Does insurance cover dog bites?
A: If your dog bites someone on your property, the personal liability and medical payment coverages in your insurance policy may cover it. However, additional exclusions or higher premiums may kick in if this happens.

Q: Are any pets excluded from coverage?
A: Your coverage may be limited when it comes to certain dog breeds that are considered high-risk. Exotic or backyard animals are less likely to be covered, but it depends on the specifics of your policy. Let’s discuss it so you know what impacts your coverage.

Q: Will homeowners insurance pay for veterinary bills?
A: Homeowners insurance only covers damage caused by a pet to other people and their property. If your pet is injured during such an incident, you would have to cover the vet bills on your own. However, pet insurance for veterinary coverage does exist as a separate purchase.

Do you have questions about your homeowners or renters insurance? Get in touch today for answers.

Does your car have an emergency kit?

Are you prepared for a roadside emergency?

All it takes is bad weather, an accident or a flat tire to leave you stranded. You could be commuting to work, taking a road trip or visiting friends and family.

Be ready for the worst-case scenario with a vehicle emergency kit. Whether you can get back on the road or need to wait for help, these five items will help you stay safe (and as comfortable as possible) in the meantime.

  1. Road Flares
    Flares alert other drivers that a disabled vehicle is ahead. This can protect you from getting hit if there’s a narrow shoulder, it’s dark outside or you’re in a low-visibility spot. Choose from traditional flares that ignite like a match or battery-powered LED flares.
  2. Jumper Cables
    Use another vehicle or a portable jump starter to jump-start a dead battery with these. Read your vehicle’s manual to know where your battery is located, if any specific instructions should be followed, and whether or not jump starting is recommended.
  3. Car Chargers
    If you need to call for help or use the flashlight on your phone, you don’t want to discover your cell phone is dead. It’s also a good idea to keep a portable charger or power bank on hand if you can’t use a plug-in charger because your car battery is dead.
  4. Blankets and Warm Clothing
    Being stranded in the cold isn’t fun — and it could be dangerous. If you can’t run your car’s heater, have blankets and a spare sweatshirt, hat and gloves on hand to keep you warm until help arrives.
  5. Snacks and Water
    You could get hungry if you have to wait a while for the road to clear or for help to arrive. Keep protein bars and other shelf-stable snacks, as well as bottled water, in your vehicle.

Staying safe and being prepared are important while you’re on the road. If you have questions about your car insurance coverage, reach out to get answers.

What’s a home insurance binder?

When you think of binders, you may think of school or work. But home insurance? 

Yes, a home insurance binder is a real (though temporary) thing. You can think of it as a temporary driver’s license that gets you on the road while you wait for your permanent license to arrive. Insurance binders provide proof of your coverage until your complete policy is done.

Learn more about what a home insurance binder is, why you need one, what’s included and how long it lasts:

What is a home insurance binder?

A home insurance binder is a temporary document that serves as proof of your policy until the underwriting process is complete. They provide details on your coverage. When you receive your complete policy, you no longer need the binder.

Why would you need one?

When you apply for a mortgage, you have to show your lender that you’ve purchased homeowners insurance. A home insurance binder provides proof of coverage until you receive your full policy.

What’s included in a homeowners insurance binder?

This is what you’ll typically find in a home insurance binder:

  • How long the policy lasts
  • Information about your insurance company
  • Deductible, coverage amounts and limits
  • Type of policy
  • Hazards you’re protected against (such as weather-related damage, theft and vandalism)

Does a home insurance binder expire?

Insurance binders are generally valid for about a month. Once you receive your final policy with its declaration page, you no longer need the binder.

Have questions about your home insurance? Reach out so we can chat.

Meridian Umbrella Policy

Here at Meridian we believe in helping protect our customers and their families, from even the most unexpected, unlikely, or even traumatic events that life can throw their way. An Umbrella Policy from Meridian is one of the very best ways to do just that, as Umbrella policies are held in order to cover anything above and beyond what your normal insurance policies cover.  These types of policies are affordable and can be the answer to your prayers if the worst does happen.

Imagine, if you will, that it’s a lovely Sunday morning and you’re going to go out and get the paper, and your faithful and friendly dog Max, a black lab, is clearly wanting to accompany you. As you get outside you see that your paper has been left way out in the yard, almost to the curb. As you walk across the lawn you’re oblivious to your neighbor, you know the one, secretary of the HOA association and self delegated neighborhood watch captain, who is always watching and commenting on everyone’s homes and yards.  Well today, she’s power-walking, and just as you bend down to get the paper, she comes walking up behind you, fast and swinging her arms, so Max, your beloved boys, senses a threat and immediately goes to defend you, jumping up and clamping down on her arm. By the time you know what has happened, she has run down the street screaming, and poor Max is cowering at your feet as you yelled at him. Now, even if you do all the right things, give her your insurance information, deliver home baked goods and flowers, well she comes after your family with a huge law suit that includes all the medical bill, emotional therapy bills, physical and occupational therapy bills and even pain and suffering.  Your homeowner’s policy caps out at a certain amount, and what will you do after that?? Drain your savings?  Sell your home? Take out a personal loan? Well, none of that will be needed if you carry an umbrella policy from Meridian, as after your standard policy caps out, you’re still covered, no matter what happens!

Perhaps you have a teenage son or daughter that has been admiring Grandpa’s classic Mustang for years! He finally hands it down to you and you keep it carefully under a cover in the garage. Well, you go out of town for the weekend and yep, you guessed it, Landon or Sadie just couldn’t contain themselves. They know where you kept the keys, and they just HAD to take it out on Saturday night, however by the time you know, it’s because you’re receiving a call that there’s been an accident. Now, not only is the poor Mustang damaged, but the kiddo plowed into rather expensive imported car, and that driver was transported to the hospital.  However, the kid is ok, and so are you, because you carry an umbrella policy from Meridian and you know, despite the final numbers, you’re covered… now you only have to figure out what to do about the kid!

Another situation you might expect can arise during the best of times. It is late spring and a beautiful weekend, so you plan a barbeque and hot tub night with some friends. Everyone is having a wonderful time until one of your guests slips getting out and takes a major fall resulting in a broken pelvis and fractured lower vertebrae.  Even if you do everything you can, there’s just no way your homeowner’s policy will cover all those medical and recovery bills.  However when you finally get inside, after the ambulance and paramedics have left, you remember your umbrella policy that your trusted Meridian agent had you add to your bundle of policies, and you breathe a huge sigh of relief, knowing that your friend can get the best help possible, without any extra worry or money from you.