Homeowner Insights: January 2014 Newsletter

By | December 20, 2013

Personal Home & Auto Insurance

Cold Weather Got You Down?

Many people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) during the winter months. This recurring depression subsides in spring and summer. While the cause is unknown, experts suspect that an increased level of melatonin in the blood could be the main contributing factor. Melatonin increases the need and desire to sleep, and is more readily produced when it is colder and darker outside. With less daylight, the biological clock that regulates mood, sleep and hormones in the body are also delayed and run more slowly in the winter.

Thinking that you or a loved one is suffering from SAD? Here are some of the most common symptoms:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Low energy and feeling fatigued
  • Decreased interest in daily activities
  • Moodiness and irritability

To relieve the symptoms of SAD, experts recommend increasing the amount of light that is in your home by opening the shades, trimming trees around windows and adding skylights. It is also helpful to get outside and take a walk on a sunny day, even when temperatures are chilly. In addition, exercise daily to relieve stress, find ways to relax and take a vacation to somewhere sunny.


Check for Radon This Winter

Though you can’t see, smell or taste radon, it may be present at dangerous levels in your home. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas produced by the breakdown of uranium in soil, rocks and water. Since the air pressure in a typical home is lower than the pressure in the soil around the foundation, the home acts like a vacuum and draws radon in through cracks in the foundation. Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer after smoking and causes over 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year.

Radon may also be present in your water source and can be released into the air when water is used for general household purposes such as showering, or ingested when drinking. Testing for radon is the only way to determine whether your indoor air quality and/or water are affected.

According to the EPA, radon gas levels can vary by day, season and geographic area. The radon levels in your home can even be different from those in your next door neighbor’s home. Therefore, all potential homebuyers, current homeowners and home sellers should have their homes tested for radon.

The EPA recommends testing for radon under the following circumstances:

  • The home was never tested.
  • The home was tested more than two years ago.
  • The home was renovated since it was last tested.
  • You plan to occupy a lower level of the home than what was originally tested, such as the basement.

To test a home for radon, you can order a kit by mail from a qualified radon measurement service provider, purchase a radon kit from a local hardware store or hire a qualified radon tester (often also a home inspector).

If a radon test reveals that your home’s radon level is dangerous, you can install a radon mitigation system. A qualified radon reduction contractor can typically install a system in less than a day.


Snowmobile Coverage

Winter means snow, and snow means you can finally take the snowmobiles out of storage for some seasonal fun. While they are a great way to spend time outside in the cold, snowmobiles present many hazards and should be insured just like your other vehicles.

A typical snowmobile policy should include the following:

  • Bodily injury and property damage liability – Covers liability for an accident involving injury to other people or property, up to your liability limits.
  • Comprehensive and collision coverage – Pays to replace or repair your snowmobile if it is stolen or damaged, regardless of who is at fault.
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage – If you get into an accident with someone who is uninsured or underinsured and you were not the at-fault party, the policy will pay for your medical treatment.
  • Roadside assistance – Covers the labor needed for repairs and towing to the nearest repair facility if your snowmobile is disabled.
  • Medical payments


Protecting Your Credit

Your credit history is vital to your future, so it’s crucial that it is accurate. When you apply for loans, credit cards or even apartments, your credit history affects whether or not you are approved and how high your interest rate is. Follow these guidelines to protect your credit score:

  • Review your credit report regularly and know your credit score.
  • When using your debit card, run it as “credit.”
  • Avoid store credit cards.
  • Pay off outstanding debt.
  • Request a higher limit on your credit card, but don’t spend it.
  • Freeze your credit if you don’t need it.
  • Only give out your Social Security number when absolutely necessary.
  • Ask your bank to report suspicious activity.
  • Create complicated passwords and PINs.


Personal Lines inSights Newsletter- January 2014

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