Dog Lover? Think About Umbrella Coverage

In today’s economy, everyone is pinching pennies. So why worry about umbrella coverage? Shouldn’t a home and auto policy leave you adequately covered? 

Unfortunately, we live in a world of lawsuits. Substantial damages can be awarded, be extremely expensive, and have a long-term financial impact. Those lawsuits can come from unlikely sources, such as our furry friends.

Take Charlie, for instance. Charlie is a much-loved, rather timid labradoodle who enjoys taking naps on the driveway while his owner mows the lawn. 

Charlie watched from eight feet away as his neighbor, a 39-year-old man, rollerbladed with his kids. The man wiped out on the sidewalk in front of Charlie’s house and broke his leg. He required surgery, costing around $35,000 in medical costs and $18,000 in lost wages.

Fair or not, the man brought a lawsuit against Charlie’s owner, suing for $220,000 in damages. He alleged that Charlie had caused the accident by getting in his way, despite multiple witnesses to the contrary. 

Charlie’s owner was lucky — a jury vindicated Charlie. However, lawsuits like this can easily exceed the limits on a homeowner’s policy, leaving the insured responsible for the remainder. An umbrella policy would prevent that, giving you an extra $1 million to $5 million in coverage.

Our furry friends can put our assets at risk in other ways as well. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs each year, with half of those occurring on the owner’s property. Dog bites, according to the Insurance Information Institute, account for about a third of all homeowner’s insurance claims, which only cover limited damages.

Protect what you love. Call us to talk about your umbrella options. The Wurzel Insurance Agency is here for you! Give us a call at (407) 977-5700 to speak with one of our experienced agents, or email us: hello@wurzelagency.com.

The Christmas Tree Conundrum: Real or Fake?

The kind of tree that adorns a person’s home during the holidays can provoke debate as much as Coke versus Pepsi or Chevy versus Ford.

When it comes to Christmas trees, do you choose live or artificial? Do you cut your own at one of our local tree farms, or pop by the tent in the Home Depot parking lot? Alternatively, do you prefer the convenience of an artificial tree that won’t shed its needles, doesn’t need water, and already has lights?

Both live and artificial trees have their advantages and disadvantages, and we here at The Wurzel Insurance Agency certainly aren’t going to try to convince you that one is better than the other. However, in the spirit of giving, we thought we’d provide some information to help you make the best decision for you and your family.

Artificial trees

According to the North Carolina Consumers Council, artificial trees pose fewer safety concerns than live trees, but that’s not to say they don’t have risks of their own. Even fake trees can catch fire when socket are overloaded with Christmas lights, and it only takes seconds for any tree to become completely engulfed in flames. Also, yes, even flame-resistant artificial trees will eventually succumb to a fire. 

When using a pre-lit tree, always follow instructions, and place the tree in an open area where a fire won’t quickly spread to furniture or other things nearby.

The benefits of artificial trees, of course, are well-known. They’re convenient and often less messy than real trees. You can reuse them year after year, saving money and saving the environment. So, there’s no need to spend time searching for the perfect tree since it’s usually easy to adjust the branches to your liking.

Live trees

OK, so you want the real deal. That’s great! However, you’re going to have to take a little more care than you would with an artificial tree. First of all, pick a tree that’s in good shape. If needles come off quickly when you give it a shake or a quick pull on a branch, find another one. 

When you get it home, cut off the bottom two inches of its trunk, and fill the tree stand with water regularly to prevent a fire. Remember not to overload it with lights and decorations. Also, the longer you keep your tree up, the drier — and the more dangerous — it will become. 

Dispose of your tree properly as well. Don’t burn it or put it in your fireplace, as a burning Christmas tree can be harder to control than other types of fires.

If you’re a fan of real trees, you probably don’t need us to tell you the benefits. Just take in that smell and enjoy the season!

No matter what tree you choose, the important thing is to keep safety in mind as well. If you do that, your holiday enjoyment will be real, even if your tree isn’t! 

The Wurzel Insurance Agency is here for you! Give us a call at (407) 977-5700 to speak with one of our experienced agents, or email us: hello@wurzelagency.com.

Save a Life: Don’t Be a Distracted Driver

You’ve seen them on the roads; you might even know a few of them. 

You could be one yourself.

Distracted drivers in come in all shapes, sizes, ages, and experience levels. Even if you’re not one today, you could become one at any moment — in the time it takes you to answer your phone or check the kids in the back seat. 

If you or someone else you know thinks you can drive just fine while talking on your phone, think about this: More than 390,000 people were injured in crashes that reportedly involved distracted driving in 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2016, 3,450 people were killed as a result of distracted driving. 

Distractions on the road come in many forms, according to www.distraction.gov, a U.S. Department of Transportation website. There are three main kinds of distractions:

Visual –taking your eyes off the road

Manual –taking your hands off the wheel

Cognitive –taking your mind off what you’re doing

To help you avoid all three kinds of distractions the next time you’re behind the wheel of your car:

• Put your phone in silent mode and store it away from the front seat or in a purse or bag. Doing so will help reduce temptation.

• Have a passenger answer your phone or return text messages for you.

• If a call or a text can’t wait, pull over in a safe spot before using your phone.

• This one seems obvious, but finish shaving or applying makeup before you get in the car!

• If you’re emotional, wait until you’ve calmed down before hitting the road. 

Your car is no place for multi-tasking. Focus on driving safely – for yourself, your passengers, and everyone else on the road.

Make sure you and your family are fully protected on the road. The Wurzel Insurance Agency is here for you! Give us a call at (407) 977-5700 to speak with one of our experienced agents, or email us: hello@wurzelagency.com.

Halloween Safety

Make your house a haven for trick-or-treaters

Halloween is one of the fall season’s most loved holidays. Kids love to dress up, get together with friends, and go door-to-door in search of the biggest and best goodies. 

If your neighborhood tends to be teeming with little superheroes and princesses, you’ll want to be sure your yard and stoop are safe and welcoming. A little pre-planning can prevent unfortunate accidents that could turn out to be tragic for kids and trying for you. 

Here are some pointers for ensuring your house is a safe place for trick-or-treaters on October 31. 

Pets first

Many dogs, cats, and other furry family companions get scared when oddly dressed strangers approach their door in droves. Make sure your pet is in a safe and comfortable space or take them to a secure, relaxing offsite location for the evening. 

Clean it up

If your yard gathers stuff — like toys, rakes, and other yard tools, hoses, tree branches, you name it — take the time to clean it up. Make sure your yard is free of potential hazards and create a clutter-free walking path well before dusk falls this Halloween.

Light it up

Make sure you offer a well-lit path. You can do this using any yard lights, from solar, string, LED, existing outdoor lighting, or glow-in-the-dark. 

Turn it off

When done for the night, make it obvious by turning all inviting lights off. However, if you’re still offering candy in a bowl outside, do make sure to keep the path well-lit until your sweet treats are tucked away inside the house.

Your friends at The Wurzel Insurance Agency hope you enjoy a safe Halloween full of treats (not tricks)!

The Wurzel Insurance Agency is here for you! Give us a call at (407) 977-5700 to speak with one of our experienced agents, or email us: hello@wurzelagency.com.

Prevent water from going where it shouldn’t

One of the most disheartening experiences is to find flooding or extreme water damage to your treasured Florida home. We know you want to protect what’s important. That’s why we’re offering these tips to help you prevent many of the most common causes of water damage. 

Just a little time and some effort can prevent a lot of heartache and hassle:

  • Make sure your water pressure is not set too high. For just $6 or so, you can purchase a gauge that will help you test the strength for the appropriate level, between 60 and 80 PSI.
  • Standard hoses on new appliances are not as durable as they used to be. So, check your devices. If they’re rubber, either replace them with longer-lasting stainless steel braided hoses or replace them every three years.
  • Keep water from leaking into the walls or floor of your bathroom by replacing cracked tiles and re-grouting when it’s needed.
  • Examine the shingles on your roof. Worn, curled or missing shingles allow water in, so replace them as soon as noticed.
  • Consider buying a water alarm, which can help you find leaks, or automatic shut-off mechanisms, which can help avoid bursts.
  • A lot of water damage occurs when you and your family are away from home.  Avoid running the washing machine or dishwasher while you’re out.
  • When you leave for vacations, turn off the water supply to appliances.
  • Keep up maintenance on all appliance hoses. Slow leaks from worn-out hoses can cause significant damage, and Homeowners insurance coverage does not apply.  

An Extra Note About Front-Loading Washing Machines

Speaking of appliances, if you have a front-loading washing machine, it’s essential to know that the seal around the door opening, or gasket, there to keep water inside the tub during the wash and spin cycles. If you notice water on the floor in front of the washer, rivulets of detergent and water, or unexplained water marks around the door, the seal may have failed. The first sign of seal failure on your front-loading washer is usually water dripping or flowing from the bottom of the door. 

This loss of water indicates that the seal is torn, cracked, or crumbling. Age, mold and mildew, and improper cleaning can cause the seal to fail. Clean the seal regularly but handle it gently and avoid harsh cleaners that break down the rubber. Replace all seals that fail. On most models, clips hold the seal in place. Unplug the machine, pull the old seal out of the clips, and carefully press the new one into place. Check that it is secured with the clips to prevent leaks and damage to the new seal.

The Wurzel Insurance Agency can work with you to ensure you have the coverage you need. Give us a call at (407) 977-5700 to speak with one of our experienced agents or email us: hello@wurzelagency.com.

After-School Safety Tips for Kids and Parents

Parents, class is back in session here in the Sunshine State, so you’ve likely already reviewed the essential safety tips for kids who walk or bus to and from school. 

Those tips, of course, are:

• Walk with a buddy

• Stay in well-lit areas

• Never accept a ride with strangers 

• Once home, lock the door and don’t let anyone in

However, Dr. Michele Borba, author of The Big Book of Parenting Solutions, urges you not to overestimate your kids’ safety smarts. Kids under 10, for example, may not grasp the concept of crossing a street safely, she says. 

She suggests teaching them: “Stop. Left. Right. Left.” Meaning that children should, “stop at the curb, look left, right, then left again before crossing, and keep looking as they cross.”

Another thing kids need to know, says Borba, is how to ask for help. Have kids practice saying, “I need help,” out loud and instruct them to “find a uniformed employee, a police officer or a woman, preferably with a child,” when they need assistance, she says. Once home, kids will likely use the Internet, so be sure to discuss digital safety too. 

Staying Safe Online

Internet safety advocate Sue Scheff, the author of Wit’s End and Google Bomb, says, “People need to put parental controls and security measures on computers and cell phones. Unfortunately, these aren’t guarantees, so having a cyber-smart child is your best defense.” Teach kids about the dangers of sharing personal information, such as their home address and phone number, online and also, about using social media responsibly. 

While online, it’s best for kids and adults to converse and connect only with people they truly know and trust, to keep their social accounts private. After all, photos and information that go online today will still be there years later, when kids apply for college scholarships and jobs.

Above all, stay involved in your kids’ digital lives. Let them know you’re there for them, always – to talk, not to judge or punish, says Scheff. “Many kids fear to have their Internet removed if they tell their parents that kids are bullying them online,” she says. So, keep the lines of communication open to help keep everyone safe, both in and outside of your home.

The Wurzel Insurance Agency is here for you! Give us a call at (407) 977-5700 to speak with one of our experienced agents, or email us: hello@wurzelagency.com.

Heavy Rain? Be on the Lookout for Damage

Your home protects you from the elements, but heavy rains can weaken that protection. With a little maintenance and much vigilance, it’s not hard to stay safe and dry. Summer rainstorms are a fact of life in Florida, and they help keep things green, even if they keep you inside. However, when they get heavy, it’s time to start thinking about the potential impact all that water has on your home. The first step is finding and fixing any immediate problems as soon as it’s safe to do so. Then, you’ll want to take measures to prevent those problems from happening during the next downpour!

Where is all that rain going?

Your roof and gutters form a crucial line of defense for your home — and in a storm, they’re vulnerable, because so many things can damage them. Trees, hail, and other objects can create weaknesses that might lead to leaks in your roof, so check for missing shingles and other issues. Moreover, keep your gutters clear, so all that water drains properly.

Are you checking everywhere?

Water dripping from the ceiling is hard to miss. Water in your crawl space, however, can quickly go undetected because hardly anyone ever checks there. Don’t forget to look there after a storm (or have a professional do it) to make sure everything is nice and dry. If you do see moisture, you’ll want to get it checked out as soon as possible.  Also, don’t just look up – another place to check is your home’s exterior, whether it’s siding, brick, or another material. Weak spots can be hard to see, so look at various times of the day in different lighting conditions. Make sure your doors and windows are properly sealed to keep out the elements, too! 

What about around your property?

Stormwater has to go somewhere, and if your property doesn’t drain well, or if runoff goes toward your foundation, you could have problems. So, watch for patterns, and grade property, so it drains away from your home if possible. Always be wary of hillsides and tilting trees after heavy storms, because the land might not be stable.

Don’t forget to keep storm drains clear of leaves and other debris. This can prevent flooding both on the streets and your property.

What should you do during the storm?

During powerful storms — especially those afternoon thunderstorms — stay inside! This is not the time to check your roof, your exterior, or your property unless there’s an emergency and you know it’s safe to go out. Monitor your interior, making sure no water is getting in. If it is, do what you can to alleviate the situation at the moment, even if it means just placing something under a leak to collect the water. For more severe problems, though, remember that safety is the most important thing. Monitor the storm’s progress with a weather app or your local news station, and stay safe! 

The Wurzel Insurance Agency is here for you! Give us a call at (407) 977-5700 to speak with one of our experienced agents, or email us: hello@wurzelagency.com.