How Can I Avoid Scams After a Disaster?

If Your Home Was Destroyed By A Hurricane, Wildfire or Other Disaster, Be Cautious

Unfortunately, there are dishonest service providers that prey on disaster victims. They know that people who have lost their homes and valuables may not be thinking clearly. If you have suffered this type of loss, don’t make any rash decisions. Talk to your insurance agent, who may recommend service providers in your area.

Here are some basic guidelines for hiring service providers:

  1. Don’t be rushed into signing a contract with any company. Instead, collect business cards and get written estimates for the proposed job.
  2. Beware of building contractors that encourage you to spend a lot of money on temporary repairs. Payments for temporary repairs are covered as part of the total settlement. If you pay a contractor a large sum for a temporary repair job, you may not have enough money for permanent repairs. In most cases, you should be able to make the temporary repairs yourself. Ask your insurance agent. And remember to keep receipts.
  3. Investigate the track record of any roofer, builder or contractor that you consider hiring. Look for professionals that have a solid reputation in your community. You can call your Better Business Bureau for help. Also, get references and never give anyone a deposit until after you have thoroughly researched their background.

A common fraud scheme is for a so-called “contractor” to convince a homeowner that a large deposit must be provided before repair work can begin. Frequently, the job will be started, but not completed. Unfortunately, these con artists are never seen or heard from again.


This is an excerpt from the article “How can I avoid scams after a disaster?” For more info, please visit
How Can I Avoid Scams After a Disaster?

Tornado Myths, Facts, and Safety – When a Watch is Issued

When A Tornado Watch is Issued

A watch is issued when atmospheric conditions are favorable for the formation of tornado producing thunderstorms. You should prepare to execute your emergency plan.
• Check that your emergency kit is in place and check the battery operated devices within
• Check to be sure that your shelter and the path to the shelter are accessible
• Monitor NOAA Weather Radio or local media outlets for the latest information
• Continue about your normal business

This is an excerpt from Tornado Myths, Facts, and Safety. For more information, please visit

What to do before a hurricane

This is an excerpt from the article “Hurricanes”. For more information, please visit

Before a Hurricane

To prepare for a hurricane, you should take the following measures:
  • To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
  • Know your surroundings.
  • Learn the elevation level of your property and whether the land is flood-prone. This will help you know how your property will be affected when storm surge or tidal flooding are forecast-ed.
  • Identify levees and dams in your area and determine whether they pose a hazard to you.
  • Learn community hurricane evacuation routes and how to find higher ground. Determine where you would go and how you would get there if you needed to evacuate.
  • Make plans to secure your property:
  • Cover all of your home’s windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.
  • Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure. This will reduce roof damage.
  • Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well-trimmed so they are more wind resistant.
  • Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
  • Reinforce your garage doors; if wind enters a garage it can cause dangerous and expensive structural damage.
  • Plan to bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else that is not tied down.
  • Determine how and where to secure your boat.
  • Install a generator for emergencies.
  • If in a high-rise building, be prepared to take shelter on or below the 10th floor.
  • Consider building a safe room.

Summertime Energy Savings Tips – Good Energy Saving Investments

Good Energy Saving Investments

Planning to do some remodeling soon? Time to replace old appliances? Consider these energy efficiency suggestions when you make purchases.

Install a whole house fan
A whole house fan is permanently installed in your attic and draws cool air into your home through the windows while forcing hot air out through your attic vents. Use after sundown when the outside temperature drops below 80 degrees, and in the early morning to cool your house and help reduce your air conditioning use. (Save: up to 5 percent)

Install window shading
Install patio covers, awnings, and solar window screens to shade your home from the sun. For additional future savings, use strategically planted trees, shrubs and vines to shade your home. (Save: 5 percent)
Solar control window films applied to existing glass in windows and doors is an effective method to reduce peak demand during hot months and conserve energy anytime air conditioning might be required. In addition to the energy management benefits, the use of these films can also reduce exposure to ultraviolet radiation and reduce glare. Visit the International Window Film Association for more information.

This is an excerpt from the article “Summertime Energy Saving Tips”. For more information, please visit

MAP® Auto Repair and Collision Repair Insurance

Designed to meet the distinct needs of mechanical auto repair and collision centers, our MAP® Auto Repair and Collision Repair program offers specific coverages and rates for eligible insureds. Through a combination of flexible business owners coverages, competitive pricing and unique features, we can customize an affordable package of insurance protection for eligible businesses in the following automotive service professions:

  • Air Conditioning Systems Installation, Service and Repair
  • Auto Glass Installation, Service and Repair
  • Auto Repair or Service Shop
  • Brake Installation, Service and Repair
  • Collision Repair
  • Electrical Systems Installation, Service and Repair
  • Transmission Systems Installation, Service and Repair
  • Tune-Up and Emissions Testing

Our program exceeds industry expectations for automatic coverages. We also offer unique, money-saving features including:

  • Age of Building Credit – Buildings less than 15 years old may be eligible.
  • Association Credit – If you are a member of a national association, you may be eligible.
  • Commercial Auto Discount – When we also write your Commercial Automobile coverage your vehicles may be eligible for a discount.
  • Franchise Credit – If you are a member of a national franchise, you may be eligible.
  • Loss Free Credit – After one year in the program you may be eligible.
  • Multiple Location Credit – Two or more locations are eligible.
  • Protective Devices Credit – Buildings with certain fire or burglar alarm systems and/or windstorm protective devices may be eligible.

The MAP® Auto Repair and Collision Repair program offers flexible optional coverages, premium discounts for eligible risks and a commercial auto discount for eligible vehicles written on a companion Commercial Auto policy.

Winter Storm Safety Tips

Make sure you and your family are prepared for winter emergencies. By starting ahead of time, your preparations will have you safe and comfortable in almost any winter situation!

Assemble a home disaster kit for winter emergencies:

  • First aid kit and essential medications, including for those with special needs, such as babies, the elderly, and the disabled.
  • Battery-powered NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Weather radio, flashlight, and extra batteries.
  • Canned food and can opener. High energy food, such as dried fruit or candy, and food requiring no cooking or refrigeration is best. And don’t forget the pets!
  • Bottled water (at least one gallon of water per person per day to last at least 3 days), as well as an adequate supply for pets.
  • Extra warm clothing, including boots, mittens, and a hat, and extra blankets.
  • Heating fuel. Fuel carriers may not reach you for days after a severe winter storm.
  • Emergency heating source, such as a fireplace, wood stove, space heater, etc. -Learn to use properly to prevent a fire, make sure you have proper ventilation.

If a winter storm warning is issued:

  • Stay indoors.
  • If you must go outside, several layers of lightweight clothing will keep you warmer than a single heavy coat. Gloves (or mittens) and a hat will prevent loss of body heat. Cover your mouth to protect your lungs.
  • Understand the hazards of wind chill, which combines the cooling effect of wind and cold temperatures on exposed skin.
  • As the wind increases, heat is carried away from a person’s body at an accelerated rate, driving down the body temperature.
  • After the storm, if you shovel snow, be extremely careful. It is physically strenuous work, so take frequent breaks. Avoid overexertion.

Assemble an emergency kit for your car/truck:

  • Blankets/sleeping bags
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • First-aid kit
  • High-calorie, non-perishable food; a small can and water-proof matches to melt snow for drinking water
  • Extra clothing to keep dry and warm
  • A large empty can and plastic cover with tissues and paper towels for sanitary purposes
  • Windshield scraper and brush; bag of sand (or cat litter); shovel
  • Tool kit
  • Tow rope, booster cables
  • Compass and road maps
  • Keep your gas tank near full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.

If you get stuck in your car:

  • Stay with your car. Do not try to walk to safety.
  • Tie a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) to the antenna for rescuers to see.
  • Start your car and run it for about 10 minutes per hour, then shut it off. This will allow you to run the heater as well as ensuring that it will still start. The last thing you want to do is run out of gas, so keep a close eye on the needle. Keep the exhaust pipe clear so fumes won’t back up in the car.
  • Leave the overhead light on when the engine is running so that you can be seen.
  • As you sit, keep moving your arms and legs to keep blood circulating and to stay warm.
  • Keep one window away from the blowing wind slightly open to let in air.

Winter precipitation definitions to know:

  • Flurries – Light snow falling for short durations. No accumulation or light dusting is all that is expected.
  • Showers – Snow falling at varying intensities for brief periods of time. Some accumulation is possible.
  • Squalls – Brief, intense snow showers accompanied by strong, gusty winds. Accumulation may be significant. Snow squalls are best known in the Great Lakes region.
  • Blowing snow
  • Wind-driven snow that reduces visibility and causes significant drifting. Blowing snow may be snow that is falling and/or loose snow on the ground picked up by the wind.
  • Blizzard – Winds over 35 mph with snow and blowing snow reducing visibility to near zero.
  • Sleet – Rain drops that freeze into ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet usually bounces when hitting a surface and does not stick to objects. However, it can accumulate like snow and cause a hazard to motorists.
  • Freezing rain – Rain that falls onto a surface with a temperature below freezing. This causes it to freeze to surfaces, such as trees, cars, and roads, forming a coating or glaze of ice. Even small accumulations of ice can cause a significant hazard.

Dangers to be aware of in cold weather:

Frostbite is damage to body tissue caused by that tissue being frozen. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling
and a white or pale appearance in extremities, such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, or the tip of the nose. If
symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately! If you must wait for help, slowly rewarm affected
areas. However, if the person is also showing signs of hypothermia, warm the body core before the

Hypothermia (Low body temperature)
Warning signs – Uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech,
drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion. Detection – Take the person’s temperature. If it is below 95 degrees
F, immediately seek medical attention. If medical care is not available, begin warming the person slowly.
Warm the body core first. Get the person into dry clothing, and wrap them in a warm blanket covering the
head and neck. Do not give the person alcohol, coffee, drugs or any hot beverage or food; warm broth is
better. Do not warm extremities (arms and legs) first! This drives the cold blood toward the heart and can
lead to heart failure.

Wind chill
The wind chill is based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin caused by combined effects of wind and
cold. As the wind increases, heat is carried away from the body at an accelerated rate, driving down the
body temperature. Animals are also affected by wind chill.

Tips For Contractors

Avoid Legal Hazards

  • Require written contracts for all work you perform. Retain copies of contracts for at least three years.
  • Have contracts and warranties reviewed by your attorney. Do not accept/assume responsibilities you are not familiar with.
  • If you hire subcontractors:
  • Have written contracts with subcontractors, with requirements for them to hold you harmless, indemnify, and defend you against any claim or liability arising from the performance of the contract.
  • Require each subcontractor to submit certificates of insurance for liability and workers’ compensation coverage, prior to beginning a job. Certificates should show limits of liability (if applicable) at least equal to the limits of your policies, indicate a policy period covering the period(s) of time work will be conducted, and be kept on file for premium auditors.
  • If you are working as a subcontractor, specifically limit contractual agreements for you to hold the owner or general contractor harmless, indemnify, and defend them against any claim or liability arising from the performance of the contract, to the work you perform.
  • Have licensed professional engineers or architects design and/or approve project plans and specifications.

Prevent Losses on the Job Site

  • Use employment applications and check references of prospective employees. (Applications available at most office supply stores.)
  • Provide written safety rules and enforce them! Safety rules should be based on OSHA, or other government agency safety requirements and accepted industry practices. Areas of particular concern are:
  • Full Protection (Work at heights)
  • Lock-Out / Tag-Out of Energy Sources
  • Confined Space Entry Program
  • Hazard Communication Program
  • Personal Protective Equipment
    • Employees should have similar job experience, or be provided training in any job they may be assigned.
    • Assign responsibility for safety to a supervisor or foreman.
    • Hold regular safety meetings.
    • Conduct periodic safety inspections.
    • Review the safety practices of all subcontractors you have hired. Be sure they meet the same standards you have established.
    • Have a first aid kit available.
    • Post emergency phone numbers and have a phone available to summon help in the event of an emergency.
    • Have fully charged, easily accessible, portable fire extinguishers.
    • Provide protective equipment such as safety glasses, hearing protection and hard hats. Enforce their proper use!
    • Secure the job site! Fence the site to prevent vandalism and public access to hazardous areas. Control access to customers and their vendors. Provide lighting when possible.

Barricade work areas and provide warning signs near excavations and other hazards.

  • Secure equipment and materials left on the job site. Lock tools in boxes and secure large equipment with chains. Limit tools and materials left on the site as much as practical.
  • Store/handle hazardous materials properly. Protect containers from damage and secure tanks in an upright position. Use safety cans for gasoline and other flammable liquids.
  • Practice good housekeeping! Remove scrap and debris daily. Limit the accumulation of sawdust.
  • Follow precautions for welding and other hot work. Shield or wet combustible surfaces. End such operations at least 30 minutes before leaving the site unoccupied.
  • Temporary heating units should be UL/AGA approved. Follow manufacturer’s suggested precautions and provide adequate clearance from combustible material.
  • Have procedures for reporting and investigating incidents and accidents. Lessons learned even from “near misses” may help to identify ways to avoid future accidents.
  • Require proper use of ladders and scaffolds.
  • Limit the exposure of adjacent properties to damage and comply with all building and environmental codes.

Prevent Losses on the Road

  • If employees drive your vehicles, or drive their own in the course of work, have your agent check their driving record.
  • If your employees drive their own vehicles in the course of work, verify their insurance coverage and make sure their limits are equal to your insurance.
  • Provide written driving safety rules to anyone who operates a vehicle.
  • Have procedures for reporting and investigating accidents.
  • Develop written preventative maintenance procedures for all vehicles and equipment.

Vehicle Safety

  • Only designated employees should operate company vehicles.
  • Driver’s license numbers must be provided and are subject to periodic record checks.
  • A revoked or suspended license must be reported to a supervisor.
  • Drivers must adhere to all laws and regulations pertaining to the use of the specific type of vehicle they are operating, including requirements for special licenses or permits.
  • Accidents of any nature or severity must be reported immediately to a supervisor.
  • Tickets for any violation must be reported to a supervisor. The driver is personally responsible for any fines or penalties resulting from the manner in which they operate the vehicle.
  • Drivers are responsible for inspecting and verifying the safe operating condition of their vehicle at the beginning and end of each workday.
  • Unsafe vehicle conditions must be reported to a supervisor.
  • All speed limits and traffic laws must be obeyed. Speed should be reduced as road conditions warrant (rain, snow, construction, etc.).
  • All lane changes must be signaled. Flashers should be used when stopped on a roadway or when traveling well below the posted speed limit.
  • Courteous behavior should be maintained at all times.

Gain a better understanding of why your Ohio homeowners insurance premiums are on the rise

The short answer:  weather and shared risk.

When a wave of major storms strikes Ohio, or anywhere in the United States for that matter, your carrier uses insurance premiums to pay
claims to help customers, like you, recover. If they expect more storms, your rates increase. Ohio has been rocked with several devastating storms this past year, from hail storms to tornadoes. Simply stated, a greater frequency and severity of storms create higher premiums, regardless of whether or not you have had a claim.

Experts identified causes for the increase, but the two major reasons are:

  • An increase in severe weather events: The effect of La Niña, which causes a collision of cooler and warmer air over the United States, has agitated rougher weather this year.
  • The growing population: More people means more buildings and structures lying in potential paths of destruction