Thursday, November 18, 2010

Don’t let a fire turn your Thanksgiving Day into a real turkey…

Did you know that cooking equipment fires are the leading cause of house fires in the U.S.? And guess which day of the year typically has three times as many cooking fires than any other? Yep, it’s good ol’ Thanksgiving. Have a safe and tasty Thanksgiving!

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), unattended cooking was by far the greatest contributor to cooking equipment fires. We’ve all been guilty of walking away from something cooking on the stove for ‘just a second”, but that really isn’t wise.

“Thanksgiving is a holiday of feasting, but it’s also a day of intense cooking, when stovetops and ovens are working overtime,” says Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of communications. “These culinary activities bring an increased risk of fire particularly when people are trying to prepare several dishes while entertaining friends and family.”

Here are some tips from the NFPA to help make your Thanksgiving Day a safe one:

Cook with caution:

  • Be on alert! If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, don’t use the stove or stovetop.
  • Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains — away from your stovetop.

If you have a cooking fire:

  • Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.
  • Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number after you leave.
  • If you try to fight the fire, be sure others are getting out and you have a clear way out.
  • Keep a lid nearby when you’re cooking to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
  • For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.

I hope these tips are helpful and that your Thanksgiving Day is truly one to be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

 

 

 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Am I covered if my expensive watch or ring is stolen? Yes, but…

Your basic home insurance policy will typically replace a piece of jewelry for its full value if it’s destroyed in a fire (assuming you can prove its existence and replacement value). If it’s stolen, however, there are strict limits what your insurance company will pay for the loss -- usually $1,000 per piece and $5,000 total for all jewelry – maybe less. Say you have 50 pieces of miscellaneous jewelry you’ve acquired over the years, worth $15,000, and it’s all stolen. In this instance, the most you’ll likely get from insurance for everything is $5,000 or even less, on some policies - minus any deductible, of course. What’s more, your regular homeowners policy likely won’t pay you if you just happen to lose that article, and don’t know where it is (called “mysterious disappearance”).

Your best defense is, at minimum, having Do you have proper coverage for your jewelry?a recent appraisal of your more valuable jewelry, so you can easily prove its existence and value to an insurance adjustor.

In addition, if you also wish to insure your jewelry for “mysterious disappearance” and for its full, replacement value, you ought to consider adding a jewelry “Floater” to your policy, also known as a “Scheduled Personal Articles Endorsement”. That way, you’re sure to receive full value for your piece, regardless of how it was destroyed or how it disappeared.

Okay, you say, I have the original appraisal for my wife’s engagement ring when I bought it in 1980. Isn’t this good enough? Well, no. Many insurance companies wouldn’t blindly accept an appraisal this ancient, but even if they did, the value of the ring has likely jumped far higher than you realize. Just think about the price of gold these days, selling at record levels. You don’t want to be underinsured.

You don’t want to be overinsured, either. According to Susan Schwartz, a highly respected independent Graduate Gemologist in Franklin TN, says jewelry values in general, are sometimes quite fluid, with wide swings from year to year. She suggests that jewelry owners periodically ask their appraiser to “update and reissue” their previous appraisal to reflect the current cost to replace the piece. This can be done at a very modest cost, and will help protect you from market fluctuations.

Given that most jewelry is of sentimental and emotional value, not having a good idea of its value in the time of a loss is something neither you, nor your insurance company, wants to face. Don’t be caught off guard if something happens to your engagement ring or expensive watch. Prepare yourself for this possibility with a proper appraisal and by adding a jewelry floater to your homeowners policy.