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Ice Dams and Your Roof - How to Identify and Remove Them

Icicles along your roofline may signal an ice dam which can damage your roof.

Sometimes, even your best efforts to prevent an ice dam may not be enough. Knowing what an ice dam is, how to identify one and how to help remove it is important to protecting your roof and home from potential damage during the snowy, winter months.

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What Is an Ice Dam?

Ice dams may form when water from melting snow freezes into ice at the edge of your roofline. Without proper roof snow removal, the ice that develops may grow large enough to prevent water from melting snow from properly draining off the roof. When the water is unable to drain from the roof, it may then back up underneath roof shingles and make its way into your home.

Do You Have an Ice Dam?

Most ice dams develop on the edge of your roof, but they may also form in other locations, depending on the slope, orientation and style of your roof. Be sure to monitor the weather and your roof for signs of ice dam formations.

  • Look closely at the icicles around the exterior of your house. If the icicles are confined to the gutters and there is no water trapped behind them, then an ice dam has likely not formed. Nonetheless, icicles can be a precursor to ice dams. Depending on their location and size, icicles may also pose a danger if they fall off. Whenever possible, and if safe to do so, remove icicles from the exterior of your home, making sure not to stand directly beneath them. If you cannot safely reach the icicles from the ground, consider hiring a contractor to assist in their removal.
  • Check for water stains or moisture in your attic or along the ceiling of exterior walls of your house. Water stains or moisture may be an indication that an ice dam has formed and water has penetrated the roof membrane.

How to Remove an Ice Dam

Removing an ice dam from your roof immediately after spotting the signs can be critical to helping prevent damage to your home. One way to remove an ice dam is to melt it using calcium chloride ice melt.

Step 1. Using a roof rake, remove snow 3-4 feet from the edge of your roof, being careful not to damage the roof covering or to allow snow to build up around walking paths or to block emergency exits.

Step 2. Use a calcium chloride ice melt product, which you can generally purchase from your local hardware store. Be sure not to use rock salt or sodium chloride, which can damage your roof.

Step 3. Fill a nylon stocking with the calcium chloride ice melt.

Step 4. Safely place and position the calcium chloride-filled nylon stocking vertically across the ice dam so that it can melt a channel through the ice.

Step 5. Cover and protect any shrubbery and plants with lightweight tarps near the gutters or downspouts for the duration that the calcium chloride stockings remain in place. This is important because the calcium chloride-saturated water dripping from the roof may damage the shrubbery and plants.

REMEMBER: Using a ladder in snowy and icy conditions may be dangerous. If you cannot safely reach the roof, consider hiring a contractor.

Rental Car Insurance - Know Before You Go

You’ve probably been at the rental-car counter, listening to the representative ask if you want to purchase the company’s insurance. And the thoughts start racing through your head. “Is this a rip-off? Doesn’t my regular auto policy cover me? What about my credit card? Why didn’t I figure this out before I left on my trip?”

The Insurance Outlet is here to help. And while not every situation is the same, we’ve got some general tips that will help you make an informed decision the next time you’re standing at that counter.

  1. Know your personal auto policy.

Because insurance policies vary, it’s a good idea to give us a call — before you rent a car — to make sure you have the coverage you need. In many instances, your personal auto policy will provide coverage for a rental car — but that coverage may be limited to the value of the car you own, rather than the one you’re renting. Of course, if you don’t have a personal auto policy, you’ll need to purchase coverage from the rental company.

And keep in mind that in the event of an accident, many rental companies will charge fees beyond repair costs. They may assess a loss-of-use fee for each day the car is unusable, as well as charge you because the value of the car has decreased. Not all insurance policies cover these fees.

  1. Also know your homeowners or renters policy.

If you’re traveling with expensive electronics or other valuable items, you probably want to consider what coverage you’ll have in the event they are stolen. Your personal auto policy and/or credit card coverage likely won’t provide protection for this scenario.

  1. Check your credit card protection.

Most credit cards will also provide some coverage, but often payment is limited to reimbursement of your personal auto policy deductible (after that policy pays for repairs). Generally, loss-of-use and other fees are not covered, but it’s important to check with your credit-card provider to determine their policies. And while some cards may offer additional protection for a fee, usually coverage is limited to damage to the car, not liability for any injuries to others. Remember, to receive any sort of benefit from your card, you must use that card to pay for your entire car rental.

  1. Consider any unique circumstances.

Are you renting a car in a foreign country, or for more than a week? You’ll definitely want to get confirmation of coverage from both your insurance carrier and credit card company because different rules might apply. Also, no matter where you are, vehicles such as trucks, RVs or exotic sports cars often aren’t covered under standard agreements. And if you’re using a car for business purposes, your personal coverage might not apply. Finally, if multiple people will be driving the car during your trip, make sure your coverages will apply to them.

  1. Learn about the insurance offered by the rental car company.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, rental companies offer four main types of coverage.

  • A Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) relieves you of responsibility if your rental car is damaged or stolen. This may also provide coverage for loss of use.
  • Liability Protection provides protection from lawsuits if you are sued after an accident.
  • Personal Accident Insurance covers you and passengers for medical bills after an accident. You may not need this if you have adequate health and auto coverage.
  • Personal Effects Coverage protects you if items are stolen from your car. You generally are covered for this under your homeowners or renters policy, but keep in mind that the loss must exceed your deductible for you to receive payment. If you have a high deductible, it may make sense to purchase this coverage from the rental company.

When you go on vacation, you don’t want to stress out about insurance. So give us a call before you leave. Then, when you head over to the rental-car counter, you can stop worrying about your coverage — and start enjoying your trip!

Business Owners Policy

As a business owner, you strive to make decisions that are right for your business, your employees and yourself. This includes decisions about business insurance. You know you need excellent coverage. You don't, however, have time to become an expert in business insurance. That’s where The Insurance Outlet can help.

A Business Owners Policy (BOP) combines property, liability and business interruption coverage for small to medium-sized businesses. This packaged coverage is generally less expensive than when purchasing coverage separately. With a BOP you have the ability to customize the policy to meet your individual business needs.

Perhaps you need general liability coverage that includes operations. Or, you need to add business auto coverage or commercial property insurance. Whether you are a home-based business, small service provider or contractor, The Insurance Outlet will work with you to find the right combination of business insurance coverage to meet your specific needs.

Supplemental Coverage Available

  • Extended liability for additional insureds.
  • Debris removal, personal property.
  • Tools and equipment.
  • Valuable records protection and accounts receivable.

In addition to advising you on the right coverage, we provide additional services, such as:

  • Loss Prevention Programs—with our insurance company partners, we can evaluate your business's current conditions and recommend ways to lower property, auto, workers compensation or liability losses. Lower losses will not only lower your insurance costs, but also increase your productivity by avoiding downtime.
  • Quick Claim Response—when you do have a claim and need fast and fair service, we work with you to make that happen. Because we’re an independent agency, we aren’t tied to any one provider. This allows us to choose which providers to represent. We only work with companies that have excellent records for settling claims fairly and promptly, because when it comes time for a claim, that’s really what our clients want and need.
  • Competitive Rates—One size doesn’t fit all. That’s the advantage of working with an independent agency like The Insurance Outlet. We're not married to any one provider, we'll find the best one for your business. Many of the insurance companies we represent specialize in insuring specific types of businesses or industries, offering special coverage and pricing.

Call or stop in at The Insurance Outlet to see if your business qualifies for one of these special programs or to review your insurance needs in general. We’re always happy to offer a no-obligation comparison of your current policy to see if we can offer you something better. There’s never any pressure.

Slow Down, Reducing Speed Saves Money…and Lives!

You’re speeding down I-93 when you spot a New Hampshire State Police car. You quickly hit the brakes and slow down, relieved that you didn’t get caught … this time.

Now take a minute to think what could have happened if you hadn’t been so lucky.

First, your speeding could have hurt somebody — or yourself. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, speed is a contributing factor in more than 30% of fatal crashes and nearly 20% of non-injury accidents. That’s a big risk to take.

Second, getting a ticket could put a big hit on your wallet. Of course, that’s not nearly as important as the health and safety impacts of speeding, but who wants to write a check to the state for speeding?

At The Insurance Outlet we want you to be safe. We also want to make sure you get a great price on the insurance coverage you need. Thankfully, easing up on that lead foot can help accomplish both.

How a ticket impacts your insurance

If you get a speeding ticket, that violation can stay on your driving record for three years to five years. And because your driving history plays a large part in determining how much you’ll pay for insurance, the fewer tickets you have, the better.

Different carriers have different policies when it comes to checking your driving record and dealing with drivers who have violations. If you receive a ticket, and it’s your first in several years, you may not see much of an increase — depending on the severity of the offense. In fact, many states will allow you to enter a deferment program if it’s your first ticket, keeping the violation off your record if you complete a safety course and avoid further tickets.

But that second ticket (or third, or fourth …) can bring some serious financial penalties. While there are too many variables to say specifically how much each additional violation will increase your premium, it’s safe to say that the jump will be significant. And unfortunately, you can be stuck paying those higher premiums for years.

Significant violations can have a bigger impact as well. If you’re going 20 miles per hour over the limit, you’ll likely pay more than someone with a ticket for 5 mph over. Insurance companies know that speeding increases the risk of accidents, and they’ll view you as an increased risk — for good reason. In fact, if you have a serious violation, or too many tickets, your insurance carrier could drop your coverage altogether.

For younger drivers (typically under the age of 25), it’s especially important to avoid tickets, because companies already view these drivers as riskier than the general population.

And keep in mind, even if your premium doesn’t go up, having a violation on your record could prevent you from receiving the lowest possible rate on your insurance.

Of course, we think the best policy is simply to obey speed limits. Not only will you avoid tickets and possible insurance hassles, but your risk of accidents will decrease. And you’ll save money by getting better gas mileage. Doesn’t that sound like a win-win situation?

Call us or stop in to get a free review of your current policies. As an independent agency we’re not tied to any one provider. This allows us to shop around for the best one for your individual and family needs. We’re happy to take a look, and there is never any pressure.


Small-Town Life and Career Appeals to Former City Boy

Written by Adam Drapcho, as Published by the Laconia Daily Sun, July 28, 2018.

Tim Gerry (photo courtesy of Adam Drapcho/The Laconia Daily Sun)

The first day that Tim Gerry set eyes on Laconia was the first day that he came to work for The Insurance Outlet. In fact, that day was the first time he had ever driven further north than Concord.

That was eight years ago. Gerry is now married, lives in Meredith and is the father of an eight-month-old. Still, he finds himself adjusting to life in “The Great North Woods,” as people from his hometown see the Lakes Region.

Gerry grew up in Wakefield, Massachusetts, and went to the University of New Hampshire, where he studied business management. At UNH he also met Chris McCarty, who would later open The Insurance Outlet in Laconia.

After graduating from UNH, Gerry lived in Dover and got a job for the insurance and finance giant John Hancock. He worked there for a few years, but it didn’t feel like the right place for him.

“I decided I didn’t want to do that anymore, I wanted something smaller,” he said. Around the same time that he came to that conclusion, he got a call from his old college buddy, McCarthy, who had started The Insurance Outlet and was ready to take on his first employee.

It turned out to be a good move for Gerry, though he admits to some “culture shock” for someone who grew up in the greater Boston area.

Tabitha, Dawson and Tim Gerry at home in Meredith. (Courtesy photo)

Some of the adjustments are small reminders that he’s not in the city anymore.

“I can’t get a pizza delivered to my house in the winter. I don’t have public trash pickup. Small conveniences you have to sacrifice to live up here,” he said.

Then, when he and Tabitha were getting ready to welcome their first baby, they encountered a big inconvenience – Concord Hospital is an hour away.

“What makes it worth it? I love my wife, I love my job, it’s quiet, it’s a smaller community feel.” They live in downtown Meredith, and enjoy family walks through the village, stopping to look at the entries of the Meredith Sculpture Walk, and going out for pizza at Giuseppe’s.

And, “I know that all that other stuff that I gave up is not that far away,” he said. He still makes regular appearances for Boston Bruins games, for example.

When he meets up with old friends and family from the Boston-area, though, they don’t understand why he moved.

“They really think I’ve moved to vacation land,” he said. But, looking at how his life might have been different, had he moved back to the big city, he’s glad he took the country path, which has proven to be a good financial decision.

“If I stayed down there, I wouldn't have been able to buy my house until I was in my 30's. I don’t think I would have been stable enough to make the decision to have a child.” And he has come to appreciate a different way of doing business.

“The small-town business attitude pays dividends here. People care that you care about them”, says Gerry.



Your Collection: Is it Covered by Your Homeowners Insurance?

Many homeowners collect certain types of property that, for various reasons, are special to them. However, collecting should be accompanied by protecting such property and that is a step that many fail to take. Later, when collectible property is lost or destroyed, the event is accompanied by regret.

Homeowners often have clues about certain property that requires special effort to properly insure. Much of the information is provided by standard homeowner insurance policies. Most have a section that restricts coverage by using sublimits. What is typically found is the following:

  • $200 SUB-LIMIT for any loss involving money, gold, silver, coins, medals, precious metals
  • $1,500 SUB-LIMIT for manuscripts, tickets and stamps
  • $1,500 SUB-LIMIT for theft of jewelry, watches, furs, precious stones and semi-precious stones
  • $2,500 SUB-LIMIT for theft of firearms and related equipment
  • $2,500 SUB-LIMIT for loss by theft of silverware, gold ware, pewter ware or platinum ware

Such property has severely restricted coverage because it is valuable and easily damaged, valuable and prone to being stolen, or both.

Besides the above property, other classes of possessions that commonly receive special protection are photographic equipment, electronics, antiques, arts, musical instruments, and wine. While these items are not subject to sublimits, they are inadequately protected because of the type of losses covered by typical homeowner policies and the fact that they are valued as if they depreciate over time.

What homeowners need to be aware of is that nearly any type of property they choose to collect may need additional or special insurance coverage. Items that are worthy of collecting typically have characteristics that significantly increase their value and, due to increased visibility created by sharing pictures and information about collections to others over the internet, may draw more attention by thieves.

Discussions with an insurance professional can result in finding additional protection that will reimburse you for a loss of collectibles at their proper value and for a wider array of losses, such as a collectible that's broken while being transported. Regardless what you are collecting, comic books, posters, models (cars, trains, boats, planes), baskets, toys, etc., take the time to ask, if they were lost or destroyed, are they adequately protected? Call The Insurance Outlet to schedule an appointment to meet with one of our agents.

Modern Insurance for Your Classic Car

It takes more than age to make it a classic. A collector car isn’t just a way to get around. It’s an investment that will continue to appreciate in coming years.

Not all classic or antique cars are used the same, so The Insurance Outlet will work with you to select the appropriate policy to accommodate coverage needs, miles driven, vehicle age, and vehicle modifications to make sure you have the best policy to meet your needs. Here are some features you should look for when shopping for classic car insurance:

  • Agreed Value: This means the provider will pay you the full (agreed to) amount in the event of a covered total loss, less any applicable deductible. This type of coverage is much better than “actual cash value” or “stated value” that you may get with some companies.
  • Low Rates: Why pay full-time insurance when you drive your collector car only part-time.
  • Coverage Options: Not all collector cars are the same, so The Insurance Outlet can work with you to determine the right amount of coverage to meet your specific needs.
  • Generous Mileage: You’re proud of your collector car, so drive it. Not all insurance companies have a mileage limit, but most collector cars should be driven less than 5,000 annual miles to maintain their value.
  • Roadside Assistance: Whether you’re down the street or on a classic rally through the mountains, you’ll want to find coverage that will flatbed your car to the closest qualified repair facility.

Do you need the insurance for your prize Mustang, Camaro, Charger, Corvette, Thunderbird, or other collector car? Talk with one of our agents today to identify the best combination of coverage, value, and price for you. We can help make sure your insurance continually meets your needs. Give us a call at 527-8050 or stop in during normal business hours.

Does your boat insurance cover mechanical breakdowns?

                                   Travelers does!


Spring is the Start of Bike Season

Spring has officially sprung and it’s time to pull the motorcycle out of storage after a long winter of hibernation; or perhaps you’re in the market for your first bike. Either way, give The Insurance Outlet a call! With our help and some of these tips* offered by Safeco, you could save up to 40 percent on your motorcycle policy.

Take a Motorcycle Safety Course*
Successfully complete a Motorcycle Safety Foundation or other approved motorcycle safety course and we’ll give you a discount that lasts for three years.

Join a Riding Club or Group*
Be an active member in one of 24 approved motorcycle riding clubs and association groups and get a discount.

Ride More*
Pay lower rates for your years of riding experience. The longer you’ve been riding, the lower your motorcycle insurance bill. Discounts are available for one to two years, three years, four years and more than four years of riding experience. Keep riding.

Garage Your Bike*
Keep your motorcycle locked in a secured structure overnight. If you care about your ride enough to give it a safe place to stay, we’ll give you a discount.

Own Your Own Home*
Save up to 20 percent when you own and primarily reside in a single-family home, townhouse, condominium or mobile home.

Choose a Higher Deductible*
Raising the amount you pay out-of-pocket for losses will reduce how much you pay for your policy premium. For example, if you have a $500 deductible, you’ll need to pay the first $500 of a covered loss. A higher deductible generally lowers your premium but increases the amount you must pay out-of-pocket when you file a claim.

It’s also possible to lower your rate if you:

  • Insure more than one bike.

  • Bundle your car, home, or boat.

  • Maintain continuous coverage.

  • Pay your bill in full.

  • Make a claim-free renewal.

  • Have a theft recovery device or anti-lock brakes.

Give us a call or email today so we can get you (back) on the road and saving money!


Do You Need Flood Insurance?

Do you own property that could be damaged or destroyed by water? If the answer is yes, then you should seriously consider buying flood insurance. Most people buy coverage offered by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). If your community doesn't participate in the program, you'll have to look into coverage from private insurance companies.

Is Flood Loss Likely?
The chances of your business, home or personal property being damaged by a flood depends primarily upon where you live. Other factors also include:

  • how much of a flood warning you receive
  • the level of flood precautions you take (such as moving personal property to higher levels), and
  • the precautions taken by your community (such as the use of flood controls in construction standards or sandbagging threatened areas).

Floods are related to weather conditions and tend to affect very wide areas. This often makes chances of a flood loss higher than a loss from fires or windstorms. Many people have the obsolete belief that flood insurance is only needed if you live in a flood prone area.

I Live in a Flood Zone?!
If you hear the term "flood zone," you may think that it refers to locations that are particularly vulnerable to flooding. Wherever you live in the USA, you live in a flood zone. While your area may have a lower chance of flooding than a coastal area or a location situated near a body of water, your area could still experience flooding. A very dry part of the country can be susceptible to flash floods; hilly locations may be harmed by drainage; snowy locations may suffer from sudden thaw; other areas may suffer deluges or flooding due to a heavy rain season which has soaked the surrounding soil. So, if you've insured your property against fire, wind and other causes of loss, it certainly makes sense to also protect it from the potential of a flood loss.

Why Worry When Disaster Coverage is Available?
Your loss may be handled by the government declaring a disaster area. However, you're still taking a couple of large risks. First, your flooded locale may not be deemed a disaster area. Second, being designated as a disaster area is not a bargain. Disaster area status only gives citizens access to government disaster loans. IF you qualify for assistance, you have replaced insurance protection with an obligation to pay off a large, long-term loan. Flood insurance is a cheaper and much more valuable alternative.

Don't Be "All Wet".
You don't have to leave yourself unprotected. The Insurance Outlet can help you with detailed information on the National Flood Insurance Program and/or provide you with information regarding the best coverage options to help you recoup losses in the event of a flood.


Revised from an article provided by ©The Rough Notes Company, Inc.

Insurance, It's Worth It!

An Industry Only a Mother Can Love
Years pass, decades pass and surveys are taken. The results are largely the same. Most folks don't care much for insurance. Insurance is still seen, at best, as a necessary economic evil. It's still common for many insurance consumers to believe that, unless their policies have paid out on a significant loss, the premiums they've paid for coverage have been wasted.
Insurance people and the companies they work for don't like this situation. However, it's tough to make a case whether public perception is fair when, for so very long, that perception has not changed.

Really Think About the Big "I"
Take a moment to truly think about insurance. Yes, a policy's value is best proven when insurance dollars are there; ready to pay for a loss. It's great when, after an auto accident, your insurer sends out an expert in claims to write an estimate, arrange to have a car towed for repairs, handles reserving a rental car, and then issues a check to pay for it all (except for your deductible). The same can be said after an insurance policy pays for a loss to your home or your business.

However, the real value of insurance exists each and every moment that a loss doesn't occur and no payments have to be made. Its value is there for every home that passes years without storm damage, without windows broken by baseballs, without suffering kitchen fires or roofs caved in by snow. Value is right there in front of your eyes as you drive past businesses, apartments, schools, hotels, factories, supermarkets and shopping centers.

Modern Economies Have to Have It
Owning anything of real value is a risky proposition. The greater the value, the higher the stakes caused by possible loss or destruction. Insurance, which protects most types of property and responds to lawsuits for most types of legal liability, enables a modern economy. Regardless whether you ever experience a loss, what is the chance that you could buy a home without insurance? Do you think that owning a car is likely without access to lenders? Even if a vehicle purchase can be handled without a loan, what about the danger you pose to others while driving?
What business of significant size could operate without the security provided by commercial insurance? Can you even imagine how everyone would have to scale back in order to handle their exposures to myriad losses without the ready availability of insurance? Many aspects of our modern lives would not be possible.
Do you still have a problem understanding the value of insurance? Would you like to imagine your world without it?

Insurance…it's worth it!  Call The Insurance Outlet today! Or, if you prefer, you can get a quote online here.  


©The Rough Notes Company, Inc.

Baby it’s cold outside.

When temperatures drop for extended periods of time, the risk of frozen pipes increases. We at the Insurance Outlet hope you will never experience the inconvenience, expense and loss of personal belongings this can cause to your home or office. The American Red Cross published the following recommendations for preventing, and recovering from, frozen pipes.

“An ounce of prevention…

During cold spell these tips will reduce the likelihood of pipes freezing:

  • Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
  • When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe - even at a trickle - helps prevent pipes from freezing.
  • Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
  • If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.

A pound of cure

Despite your best efforts, pipes may still freeze. If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Likely places for frozen pipes include against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.

Here are some steps to take if you suspect your pipes have frozen:

  • Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt ice in the pipe.
  • Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device.
  • Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if you can not thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.
  • Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.
  • Call your insurance agent to report any damage to property.”

Avoid Heating Dangers

Woman relaxing at home in front of a cozy fire at Christmas

As the outside weather turns cold, many turn to the use of space heaters and woodburning stoves to help fight the chill from their homes. The wintry months of December through February are the highest for reported home fires that involve heating equipment. Such fires are a sad, significant source of fire fatalities.

If you choose to make use of space heaters or woodburning stoves, take the time to make sure they can be used safely. Steps can be taken to minimize the chance of a tragic fire loss.

Space Heaters
There are a number of simple steps to make the use of space heaters safer. Adhere to the following:

  • Use only Underwriter Laboratories (UL) approved heaters
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed
  • Test smoke alarms monthly.
  • Inspect the heater to make sure it is operating properly and use heater ONLY as intended
  • Heaters must automatically shut off after desired temperature is reached
  • Heaters must automatically shut down in the event of a tip over
  • Heaters must be kept at least three feet from all combustible materials
  • Heaters must be monitored when in operation
  • Only plug heaters into wall receptacles (never use an extension cord)
  • Locate and use space heaters away from travel paths
  • Do not use space heaters in bathrooms or kitchens
  • Do not use portable space heaters if small children are present

Woodburning Stoves
There are a number of simple steps to make the use of woodburning stoves safer. Adhere to the following:

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from any stove
  • Have a three-foot "kid-free zone" around the stove's location
  • Have a qualified professional install such stoves, according to local codes and manufacturer's instructions. Strictly adhere to clearance, pipe length, chimney type and related requirements
  • Have stove and related connections professionally cleaned and inspected annually
  • Locate stove on a noncombustible, fire resistant base
  • Burn only dry, well-seasoned wood
  • Crack open a window to assist with ventilation
  • Dispose of ashes in a closed metal container outside the house
  • Never pass stove pipe through a wall or ceiling
  • Never connect a wood stove to a chimney serving another appliance burning other fuels
  • Don't start a stove fire with flammable liquids
  • Never use a stove to burn trash as such use may create a chimney fire
  • Never leave an operating stove unattended
  • Only use stoves approved by recognized testing laboratories

10 Money Saving Tips for Auto Insurance

Purchasing the auto insurance that is right for you can be confusing, especially for first-time buyers. By learning the basics on how to get the most for your money, you can save on your auto insurance and feel confident you have adequate coverage. The Insurance Outlet offers these tips to lead you in the right direction when you purchase your car insurance.

Be a safe driver. Drivers with good driving records can save as much as 60 percent over drivers who cause accidents.

Enroll in a driving class. Drivers who complete a state-approved defensive driving course, or drivers under the age of 21 who take a driver training course, could qualify for savings.

Buy a car that includes safety features such as anti-lock brakes, alarms or other security features, airbags, and automatic seat belts.

Choose a higher deductible (what you pay before your insurance policy kicks in), which can mean paying less for your policy.

Eliminate unnecessary coverages. If you drive an older car with little cash value, consider eliminating “collision” or “comprehensive” coverage, which pays for damage to or theft of your car.

Insure more than one car with the same company, and you may be eligible for savings.

Insure your car and home with the same company. You could save money if you have more than one type of policy with the same insurance company (for example, an auto policy and a homeowner’s policy). The more good business you give the company, the more valuable you are as a customer.

Look for low-mileage discounts if you car pool or do not put a lot of miles on your car annually.

Check for student discounts such as a good student credit for maintaining a B average, or if a driver in your household is living away at school and not driving as much.

Buy a safer car that will cost less to repair and less to insure. Check crash-test reports, repair records and manufacturer recalls of any car you are considering. A consumer protection magazine can be very useful or check car sites on the Internet.


9 Tips for Saving Money on Your Homeowners Insurance

Purchasing the homeowners insurance that is right for you and your home can be confusing, especially for first-time buyers. By learning the basics on how to get the most for your money, you can save on your homeowners insurance and feel confident you have adequate coverage. The Insurance Outlet offers these tips to lead you in the right direction when you purchase your homeowners insurance.

Shop around. In addition to considering friends, family, the phone book or the Internet as possible sources to find homeowners insurance, consult with an independent insurance agent. Look for a wide range of prices from several companies. Remember, you get what you pay for, so look for not only a fair price but excellent service as well. Check a company’s financial rating with A.M. Best or Standard & Poor’s.

Raise your deductible. Companies generally have deductibles (what you pay before your insurance policy kicks in) starting at $250. By choosing a higher deductible ($500, $750, $1,000 or higher), you’ll have lower annual premium payments.

Consider how much insuring a new home will be. The age of your home may qualify you for savings because plumbing, heating and electrical systems of newer homes have lower risks than outdated systems. Construction of the home (brick versus wooden frame) can affect your cost as well, depending on your home’s location. Also, if you live near your local fire department, your homeowners rates might be lower than if you are many miles away.

Insure your home, not your land. Since homeowners policies don’t provide protection for your land, it would be a waste of money to include its value as part of your dwelling coverage, which should only reflect the price it would cost to repair or replace your home’s structure.

Insure your car and home with the same company. You can save money if you have more than one type of policy with the same insurance company. The more good business you give the company, the more valuable you are as a customer.

Improve home security and safety. If your home has certain types of fire alarms, burglar alarms, locks, or smoke detectors, you’ve reduced your risk and may qualify for a credit.

Look for senior discounts. If you are at least 55 years old and retired, your insurance company may offer you a discount. Retirees often spend more time at home and are more likely to spot trouble and prevent a loss.

Look for group coverage. Many insurance companies offer discounts to groups such as alumni or business associations. Check with your association director or employer to see if they offer a plan.

Stay with one insurer. If you keep your coverage under one insurer for several years, you may be offered a discount from the company. The longer you are a customer, the more money you will likely end up saving.

Compare the limits in your policy to the value of your possessions at least once a year. If you make any major purchases or additions, you want to ensure they will be covered, but you do not want to spend more than is necessary.