As we move into the new year, we want to thank you for your patronage and offer the following information to help you protect the things that matter most to you.

From identity fraud to phishing emails, phone scams and more, fraud and cyber crime are on the rise as criminals find new ways to exploit vulnerabilities. To help protect your family against cyber criminals, we encourage you to review each of your devices at least once a year for the following:

  • Have you enabled password protection for each device?
  • Have you installed virus protection and a firewall on each device, whether in the office or at home?
  • Is the software current and routinely updated on each device?

Insurance carriers are now offering coverage for fraud and cyber crime. It is intended to reimburse you for financial loss due to fraud, whether it is committed online or offline. This could include coverage for:

  • Social engineering (if you or a family member is deceived into wiring money from your account)
  • Unauthorized transfer or payment (if a credit card transaction, bank payment or wire transfer is made without your authorization)
  • Criminal deception (if you are deceived into making a payment or providing something else of value)
  • Forgery or alteration of checks
  • Acceptance of counterfeit money
  • Identity fraud

While connectivity simplifies our lives in many ways, it also exponentially increases the opportunity for victimization by cyber thieves. Therefore, families need to know how to protect themselves. Contact your Hylant representative to learn how we can help.

The wrapping paper has been thrown away and the tree has been taken down. If you received a gift of significant value during the holidays, such as jewelry or artwork, one task remains: insuring your unique valuables, both new and existing.

A homeowners policy supplies limited coverage for items such as jewelry, artwork and other high-value collectibles, and the policy’s deductible applies in the event of a loss. A better way to insure such items is with a “collections” insurance policy.

A collections policy allows you to cover each item for a specific agreed-value amount, and you can opt for a zero-deductible plan. The policy provides coverage for losses caused by mysterious disappearance, theft, flood, burglary and others. Each carrier has a maximum limit for which they schedule (i.e., insure) a piece without an appraisal or bill of sale. It will be necessary to provide a detailed description and value for each piece you want itemized. You also can include a blanket limit of coverage as a “catch all” for pieces of lesser value not listed out separately.

The cost of your collections policy premium may be reduced if you keep your jewelry or other items in a safe or a bank lockbox when not in use. You also may qualify for a premium reduction if your home is equipped with a monitored burglar and fire alarm system. Call to see how we can assist you.

Thank you to Chubb for allowing us to reprint their content and share this important information with you!

Freezing temperatures, ice, snow and wind can cause severe damage to your home and property. If you live in an area that experiences harsh winters, here are some areas to evaluate to help protect your home:

Build Up of Ice and Snow on Your Roof
Ice dams occur when heat from a house escapes the attic and warms the roof. Snow on the roof melts and then refreezes, causing a ridge of ice to form and trap water on the roof. This water can leak into the home, causing major damage. To safeguard your roof:

  • Thoroughly clean gutters in the spring and late fall. Clogged gutters may allow ice to form and back up under the roofline.
  • Make sure proper attic insulation is in place, keeping your house warm, but your attic cool—reducing snow melt on the roof.
  • Ensure continuous ventilation of attic air, which should be only 5 to 10 degrees warmer than the outside.
  • Heavy ice and snow build-up on your roof can cause seepage or even a collapse. If snow accumulation is significant, hire a professional to "shovel" the roof.

Plumbing Inside and Outside Your Home
Plumbing located within exterior walls or unheated crawl spaces is most vulnerable to freezing or bursting. To protect your pipes:

  • All interior pipes should be insulated or have wall insulation around them, especially in vulnerable areas such as attics, crawl spaces and along outside walls.
  • Use weather-resistant insulation to protect exterior pipes.
  • Cabinet doors under sinks should be kept open during a heavy freeze to allow heat to circulate around pipes.
  • Hire a professional to winterize the outdoor sprinkler system and remove all residual water, which can freeze and cause pipes to burst.
  • Disconnect exterior hoses from their faucets and install frost-free hoses and hose bibs.
  • Properly insulate unfinished areas such as basements and garages, where pipes may be exposed.
  • Keep your thermostat set at a minimum of 55 degrees in the winter.
  • Install a low-temperature alarm if you are away often. It will activate your alarm system if the home temperature falls below a pre-set level.
  • If you suspect a frozen pipe, shut off the water main source and call a plumber.

Fireplaces, Furnaces and Heating Systems
Improper use or poor maintenance of heating systems can cause fire, puff-backs and smoke damage. Wood burning fireplaces and stoves are among the worst culprits when it comes to winter house fires. Follow these fire preventive measures:

  • Clean chimneys and flues on fireplaces and stoves annually.
  • Use a fire screen to control flying embers and burn only seasoned hardwood to reduce the potential for creosote buildup. Place ashes in a metal container and remove from the house immediately. Never put ashes in or near the trash.
  • Service furnaces and boilers at least once a year.
  • Check for scorch marks from baseboard heaters on interior walls.
  • Keep portable space heaters at least three feet away from flammable objects, such as window treatments, furniture and bedding. Do not use extension cords to power the unit.
  • Keep backup generators outdoors—away from open windows, doors and vents. And never use an outside grill inside the house.
  • Change smoke and carbon monoxide alarm batteries every six months. Replace detectors after 10 years.

Emergency Access
Severe weather could impact access to your home in the event of a fire, medical or other emergency. Take these measures before a winter storm to ensure fast and easy access:

  • Your house number should be clearly marked in a conspicuous area at the front of the home.
  • Contract a snow removal service that guarantees removing the snow from your driveway after every six inches of accumulation.
  • A large marker should be placed near a fire hydrant. Clear away surrounding snow.

Secondary, Seasonal Homes and Unoccupied Homes
Secondary/seasonal homes or homes that are unoccupied during much of the winter require special consideration:

  • Hire a property manager or caretaker to check on the home at least once a week for mechanical failures and signs of damage. An inspection should include running the water in every sink, flushing toilets, and opening cabinet doors under sinks to avoid freezing pipes.
  • If the home is not professionally winterized, set the thermostat at 55 degrees or higher. Unheated seasonal structures with plumbing should be winterized.

Nobody likes to talk about bills. However, there are facts about insurance billing that you may find helpful to know:

  • The due date on the invoice is your due date. Most carriers do not offer a grace period.
  • Most insurance carriers offer electronic funds transfer.
  • Online/paperless billing is available from most carriers and is available 24 hours a day.
  • Annual payments can provide a savings. Some insurance carriers provide a premium credit if the premium is paid annually. The insured also saves on the billing notice service charges that are applied to installments.
  • Most carriers charge a reinstatement fee as well as a cancellation fee of anywhere from $20 to $50.
  • Some insurance companies allow an occasional late premium payment with reinstatement of coverage. However, if late payment occurs too many times, the carrier may not reinstate coverage.
  • When considering renewal premiums, underwriters consider the number of cancellation notices issued to an insured.

If you have a question about insurance payments, do not hesitate to consult with your Hylant representative.

Hylant–Corporate Office
811 Madison Avenue
Toledo, OH 43604

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