Insurance Tips

Home Tips for Spring

If you’re like most Canadians, your home is probably your most important investment. It’s also the place where you and your family tend to spend a great deal of time. A regular schedule of seasonal maintenance can help you protect that investment for years to come, and help keep your home and your family healthy, safe and sound all year round. This spring, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has a short checklist of simple inspections and repairs that can help you put a stop to the most common and costly problems before they occur, in as little as a few minutes a week, including:

* Check your furnace, air exchanger and air conditioner filters, and clean or replace them if needed.
* Check and clean your range hood filters on a monthly basis.
* Make sure all indoor and outdoor air vents (intake, exhaust and forced air) are clear of snow and debris.
* From the ground or any overlooking windows, check your roof for missing or damaged shingles. Have any damaged ones repaired.
* Check the condition of caulking around windows and doors. Replace as necessary.
* Test ground fault circuit interrupter(s) on electrical outlets each month by pushing the test button, which should cause the reset button to pop up.
* Consult your hot water tank owner’s manual and follow its recommendations for testing the temperature and pressure relief valve to ensure it isn’t stuck. If you are unsure, consult a plumber.
* Shut down and clean the furnace humidifier, and close the furnace humidifier damper on units with central air conditioning.
* Have your fireplace or woodstove and chimney cleaned and serviced as needed.
* Clear all drainage ditches and culverts of debris.
* Check smoke, carbon monoxide and security alarms, and replace their batteries.
* Clean all windows, screens and window hardware. Repair any holes in screens or replace them if necessary.
* Open the valve to the outside hose connection once any danger of frost has passed.
Examine the foundation walls for cracks, leaks or signs of moisture, and repair them if required.
* Repair and paint fences as needed.
* Make sure your sump pump is operating properly before the spring thaw sets in, and ensure the discharge pipe allows water to drain away from the foundation.
* Re-level any exterior steps or decks which may have moved due to frost or settling.
* Clean any debris from eaves troughs and downspouts, reattach any sections that are loose, and make sure they are securely attached to your home and that the flow of water discharges away from your foundation.
* Have well water tested for quality, and test for bacteria every six months.
* Carry out any spring landscaping and, if necessary, fertilize young trees.

For more information or a free copy of the “About Your House” fact sheet Home Maintenance Schedule and other fact sheets on owning, maintaining or renovating your home, ask CMHC at 1-800-668-2642 or visit their Web site at Source: CMHC

Don’t invite thieves into your home
WINNIPEG-Police in Winnipeg are warning homeowners to take their garage door openers with them when they leave their cars, or risk giving thieves an easy way into their homes.

Police say there have been a number of incidents lately in which thieves have broken into cars and stolen automatic garage door openers as well as registration certificates for the vehicles.
The thieves read the driver’s home addresses from the certificates, then go there and use the garage door openers to break in.

When garages are attached to homes and the inside doors are unlocked, the thieves can often just walk into the house and take what they want. They load stolen goods into their vehicles in the closed garage, away from the watch of neighbours or passersby.

Police recommend that people either keep their garage door opener with them at all times or make sure there are no documents in the car that reveal their address.

Copyright (C) 2005 CBC. All rights reserved.

Are you prepared for a disaster?

Early Sunday morning in August of 2008, a vivid fireball rocked a North Toronto neighborhood. A propane plant depot adjacent to the residential neighborhood catches fire and leaves two people dead, including one veteran firefighter.

Thousands were forced to flea their homes amid the blazing sky, many leaving without essential belongings. We never know when we be might forced to leave our houses as disaster can strike at anytime.

As with anything, preparation is the key to getting you & your family to a safe place. Here’s a short list of things you can do to better prepare for the unexpected;

* Identify your evacuation route ahead of time
* Know where you’ll be staying (have more than one option)
* Create an inventory of your belongings and safely store it.
* Plan what you’ll take and mostly what you’ll need.
* Keep important documents accessible.
* Have a phone number outside of your local community (as local service may be down) that everyone can call in the event family members are separated.

By planning and practicing you’ll be able to mobilize your family with mininal stress and confusion.

Drive proofing your Teenager

Getting a driver’s licence is a defining moment for most teens and the beginning of a gruelling, white-knuckle journey for most parents. Your guidance, and a clear agreement on conditions for handing over the keys, can establish life-long safety habits.
Teen drivers are inexperienced, susceptible to peer pressure, and prone to risk-taking behaviour. It’s no surprise that, according to Transport Canada teens as a group have one of the highest rates of traffic accidents, and these accidents account for the most injuries and deaths.
Experts agree that parental involvement while teens are learning to drive is the key to reducing these risks. Here are some ideas to keep your teen safer behind the wheel (and help settle your nerves!).
Don’t forget to contact your insurance provider when your teen starts driving. When you add your teenage son or daughter to your policy, your premiums may be affected.

1. Look in the rear-view mirror
Be very conscious of your own driving habits. Remember that you’re teaching your kids how to drive every time you get behind the wheel. Are you demonstrating the calm, courteous, safety-conscious skills you expect from them? You’ve got to earn this credibility as a role model.

2. Let a professional do the teaching
If your teen doesn’t follow your instructions for folding the laundry, how much will they learn from you in the car? BC does not require professional in-class and hands-on driver’s instruction. But even when it is not required, there is no substitute for professional driver training. However BC has a graduated licensing program in place. New drivers are required to have a learners for 1 year and an N (new) designation for 24 months. The N period can be reduced to 18 months upon the completion of an approved driver education course.

3. Review what’s being taught
Make sure any driver’s education program you’re considering will prepare your teen for a lifetime of defensive driving and not just impart the skills to pass the driver’s test! Look for a comprehensive course (offered over a period of weeks or months) that includes specific instruction in reducing risks, recognizing hazards, and handling skids and emergency situations.

4. Consider the type of car driven
According to ICBC, injury and death rates are higher among occupants of small cars when there’s a crash. In addition:
-Trucks and SUVs may be more susceptible to roll-overs.
-High-performance “muscle cars” may encourage young drivers to push the limits.
If your teen will be driving a higher-risk vehicle, speak to the driving instructor about special tips and techniques that can be used to counter these risks.

5. Don’t rush your teen to get a full license
The more experience your teen gets on the road with a learner’s permit, the safer he or she will be when the time comes for a full licence. And remember, whether a teen is ready for a full license should also depend on the individual teenager’s level of maturity and responsibility.

6. Draw up a driving agreement
Make a contract with your teen, so there is no doubt about rules and responsibilities behind the wheel.
This should stipulate how many hours a week you will be available to help coach behind the wheel (experts recommend a total of 30-50 hours of road experience as a minimum for teens to transition from learners to new drivers).

Once your teen has their N allowing them to drive without you, your contract should include detailed guidelines on how the car may be used (strictly back and forth to work, for example). Ultimately, a contract can’t guarantee your teen will follow the rules, but it does make the point that you’re serious about safety. And it will lay out clear-cut consequences for infractions.