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Tools and Resources

The following resources have been created for your convenience and offer helpful tips for insurance-related issues.

Ice Damming Warning

Ice damming usually occurs when there is a significant amount of snow on your roof. If the temperature in your attic is above freezing, it warms the roof sheathing, melting the snow. The melt water flows down to another part of the roof that is cooler – usually the overhang and eaves – and the water freezes. The ice forms a small dam that builds up slowly as more and more melt water refreezes. Eventually, water backs up behind the dam and works its way under the shingles until it begins to leak through the roof into the living space below.
The problem gets worse as the back log of slush and snow created by the damming forces the shingles up dislodging nails in the process.  Nail holes and small cracks are perfect pathways for flowing water. Water pathways make their way into your attic, seeping through your insulation and migrating into your walls and through your ceiling. Some leaks caused by ice dams can be obvious, but others can be more difficult to detect, taking years before you notice the accumulated mold and wood rot.
Indications that ice damming may be occurring:
•    Snow is melting but there is a line of ice or snow at the eaves that is not draining
•    Formation of large icicles from the eaves 
•    Water is dripping out of the soffit or gutter 
•    Shingles appear worn or faded on overhangs 
•    Shingles have rolling humps or dips on eave line 
•    Interior walls or ceilings have visible water damage under eaves 

What you can do to prevent ice damming:
•    Keep gutters and downspouts clear of leaves and natural debris
•    Identify areas of heat loss in your attic and then properly insulate those areas
•    Wrap or insulate all heating duct work in order to reduce heat loss through your attic
•    Ensure that the attic has proper and continuous ventilation under the roof deck
•    If it is safe to do so, use a snow rake or soft broom to clear fresh snowfall from gutters

Get Ready for the Holidays

There is enough to worry about over the holidays: the perfect decor, the perfect gift, the perfect meal. Focus on what is really important this holiday season, by taking a few steps to ensure your home is safe and sound...

Safety Tips for the Holidays

Avoid break-ins this holiday season by following a few safety tips:

At home:

  • Don’t feed exterior extension cords through open windows or garage doors.
  • Avoid making gifts visible by keeping blinds and curtains closed while you’re out.
  • Put away ladders and tools after installing decorations and lights. 
  • If you’re heading out, make it look like you’re home by using light timers.
  • Don’t advertise you have new electronics or other valuable items in your home. Cut up boxes from opened presents and hide them in your recycling bin or garage until garbage day. 
  • Keep your home bright and deter thieves by installing security lights and/or cameras at the front and back of your house.

If you’re going away:

  • Avoid telling people (other than your family and trusted neighbours) that you’ll be away. This includes messages on your personal voicemail and email, and posts on social media profiles.
  • Don’t let snow pile up outside your home. This signals to others that you’re not around. Arrange for a snow plow service.
  • Make sure you have someone pick up your mail and newspapers so they don’t pile up on your porch or in your mailbox. 

Christmas Tree Safety

Decorating the Christmas tree is a cherished family pastime. Choose, place and decorate your tree wisely and keep it well cared for to ensure an enjoyable festive season.

Use these tips to reduce risk:

  • Consider switching to an artificial tree as there is less risk of a fire.
  • Test live, cut trees for freshness by bending a few needles in half. If they snap in two, the tree is dry and poses a greater fire risk.
  • Put your tree in a sturdy, non-tip stand.
  • Keep cut trees well supplied with water as dehydrated trees can catch fire more easily.
  • Make sure the tree is at least one metre away from any flame or heat source.
  • Try to position it near an outlet so that cords are not running long distances.
  • Do not place the tree where it may block exits.
  • Never decorate a tree with candles.
  • Inspect electrical lights and extension cords for wear and tear, and replace any cords that are beginning to fray or have broken sockets.
  • Use only light sets that bear the mark of a recognized certification agency or regulatory body.
  • Do not overload the circuit by stringing too many cords together at a single outlet.
  • Unplug all lights – inside and out – before going to bed or leaving home.
  • Safely dispose of the tree when it begins dropping needles. Dried-out trees are flammable and should not be left inside the home or garage, or placed against the house.

 

Winter Driving | Be Smart Behind the Wheel

Wintery roads can make even the shortest trip a white-knuckling experience. In fact, studies have shown that December, January and February historically see the highest number of collisions than any other time of the year. Taking just a few simple steps can help keep everyone safe on the roads.

Before you hit the road:

  • Service your vehicle. Have brakes, engine, oil, battery, hoses and belts checked for good working condition. Replace windshield wipers if they are worn. Ensure windshield fluid is topped up throughout the season.
  • Invest in winter tires. There’s a reason why winter tires are mandatory in some regions – they work. They grip snowy and icy roads better providing more control.
  • Plan ahead. Plan your trip and check for poor road conditions before you head out, so your route may be adjusted accordingly. Plan for extra time to properly clear your vehicle from snow.
  • Pack an Emergency Kit. Prepare for the unexpected. Your kit should include a warm blanket, flashlight with extra batteries, gloves, hat, mitts, flares, shovel, booster cables and some non-perishable food.

Staying safe on the road:

  • Leave extra space. Leave at least 8 to 10 seconds between you and the vehicle in front of you to allow time to react and brake quickly.
  • Take it slow. Even if the roads seem clear, by taking your time an accident is less likely if you suddenly need to stop or if you hit a patch of black ice.
  • Stay focused. Keep your eyes on the road, hands on the wheel and put phones and other distractions away. And never, ever, drink and drive.

 

Preparing Your Home for Winter

If the Canadian Farmer’s Almanac is right, we are in for a deep-freeze and snowy winter. Prepare your home to avoid expensive repairs that could happen over the season.

Outside the home

  • Prevent drafts. Keep the chill in the air outside by sealing around windows and doors with spray foam, caulking or weather stripping to keep the cool air out.  Not only will your home be warmer, you’ll save money on energy bills.
  • Gutters. Leaves don’t just collect on your lawns – they also fill your eaves troughs and downspouts. So clean them out to let water drain properly. If you use a ladder, practice ladder safety or hire a professional.
  • Air Conditioners. Prepare your air conditioner for winter by asking a professional to properly power the unit down. Fully covering your air conditioner may trap moisture, so ask if a short cover, that just covers the top, is right for your unit in order to prevent leaves and debris from getting trapped inside.
  • Get on top of roof issues. Is your roof in good repair? Hire a professional to check for signs of loose or missing shingles, especially after extreme weather.
  • Turn off outside faucets. These pipes are susceptible to freezing, and could burst. Close shut-off valves to all outside faucets, and then turn on the outside faucets to allow them to drain properly.
  • Rake, rake, rake. Piles of leaves can provide entertainment for little ones to jump in, but don’t keep them around too long. Leaves can kill your grass if left on the ground for an extended period. Rake them, bag them, and take them to the curb for pick up to keep your lawn healthy, or mulch them with a mower and shake them over your garden to improve soil fertility.
  • Stow your tools and toys. Put away the lawn mower. Wipe gardening tools down and store them in a shed or garage. Also store patio furniture and children’s toys to protect them from the elements.
  • Store firewood safely. Dry firewood should be stacked at least four to five metres away from your home.

Inside the home

  • Check your detectors. Check that your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order and replace the batteries as often as recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Get your furnace winter ready. As cooler temperatures arrive, you’ll want to have your furnace serviced and the filter changed to make sure everything is running efficiently.
  • Fireplace safety. Clear out ash and charred wood from the fireplace. While enjoying a fire, keep a glass or metal screen in front of your fireplace to help prevent sparks from flying. Also, have your chimney inspected and cleaned by a professional.
  • Don’t forget your attic. Check your attic (or hire a professional) to make sure insulation is properly installed to prevent heat and moisture from escaping.

By taking these simple steps to ensure your home is ready for the upcoming cooler temperatures, you can sit back, cozy up, and enjoy the season knowing your home is safe and sound.

 

Back to School Road Safety Tips

It’s that time of year again… back to school. It’s an exciting time for all, but it can also be a dangerous time of year.

Back to school always marks a change in traffic patterns as more students and parents are back from vacation and are out on the roads walking, biking and driving to school. And while road safety may not be the first thing on a parent or student’s mind (instead they are likely more concerned about what they should wear!) it really should be a top consideration, especially as pedestrian injuries and deaths are on the rise across the country.

Here are a few tips to help you and your children stay safe:

Pedestrians:

  • Put your devices down and ear phones away. It’s important for pedestrians to look, listen, and make eye contact with drivers when they cross roads.
  • Use sidewalks (choosing the left-hand sidewalk so you see oncoming traffic) and cross at street corners with traffic signals and crosswalks when possible.
  • Wait for cars to come to a complete stop before you enter an intersection. Distracted drivers may not see the red or flashing light until it’s too late.
  • Remember to watch out for cars that are turning or backing up. Be careful crossing driveways and parking lots too.
  • If you need to use your cell phone, stop and find a safe area to talk.
  • When waiting for a bus, stand at least three big steps back from the curb until the bus comes to a complete stop and the door opens.

 

Drivers:

  • Minimize distractions whenever you are behind the wheel.
  • Keep your eyes peeled for bikers, walkers and runners who may step into the street unexpectedly.
  • Slow down in residential neighbourhoods and school zones.
  • Follow school bus safety laws and stop completely for school buses when children are getting on and off.
  • Always yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and let children get all the way across the street before proceeding.

 

Parents and Caregivers:

  • Talk with your kids about road safety starting from a young age and keep the conversation going into their teen years.
  • Set a good example and obey the rules of the road yourself. Kids also learn from observation.
  • Hold hands with younger children when vehicles are nearby.
  • Go with your children to the bus stop and wait with them until it arrives.

 

Together we can make our roads safer.

 

Tips to Protect Your Home in the Cold Weather


We offer the following tips to help you protect your home and property during cold weather:

  • Keep the house heated to a minimum of 18 degrees Celsius. The temperature inside the walls where pipes are located can be substantially colder than the walls themselves. A temperature lower than 18 degrees will not keep the inside walls from freezing.

  • Identify the location for the main water shutoff in your home. Find out how it works in case you have to use it.

  • Open hot and cold faucets enough to let them drip slowly. Keeping water moving within the pipes will prevent freezing.

  • If you are going to be away, drain the pipes. This can be done by first shutting off the main water line and then draining all lines by opening the taps and closing them once the water runs out. Also flush toilets to remove water from tanks. Be sure to have someone check on your home while your away to ensure heat is being maintained as well.

  • Make sure all hoses are disconnected from outside spigots.

  • If you discover that pipes are frozen, don't wait for them to burst. Take measures to safely thaw them immediately (such as wrapping pipes in towels soaked in water heated on the stove, or using hot air from a hair dryer, while being careful to stay away from standing water to avoid the risk of shock), or call a plumber for assistance.

  • If your pipes burst, first turn off the water and then mop up spills to prevent the water from doing more damage than it already has.

  • Make temporary repairs and take other steps to protect your property from further damage, such as remove any carpet or furniture that can be further damaged from seepage. 

 

Emergency Preparedness  |  Basic Emergency Kit

You may have some of these basic emergency kit items already, such as a flashlight, battery-operated radio, food, water and blankets. The key is to make sure they are organized, easy to find and easy to carry (in a suitcase with wheels or in a backpack) in case you need to evacuate your home. Whatever you do, don't wait for a disaster to happen.

  • Easy to Carry | 
  • Flashlight and Batteries
  • Battery-powered or Wind-Up Radio
  • Extra Batteries
  • First Aid Kit
  • Special Needs Items  |  
  • Extra keys for your vehicles, house and shed
  • Cash  |  
  • For more information and resources visit the Get Prepared website.

 

International Snowmobile Safety Week  |  January 18-26, 2014

Snowmobiling is a fun and exciting family activity enjoyed by over 4 million people across the United States and Canada. The sport is a safe and an enjoyable form of recreation if done properly and with respect. 
 
The purpose of International Snowmobile Safety Week is to expose people to safe snowmobiling practices and to demonstrate how operating safely can prevent mishaps
1. Never consume alcohol or drugs before or during snowmobiling. 
2. Become familiar with the snowmobile you ride. 
3. Operate at safe and reasonable speeds. 
4. Stay on trails and areas where snowmobiling is permitted. 
5. Avoid travel on unfamiliar frozen bodies of water. 
6. Using extra caution at night. 
7. Keep your snowmobile properly maintained. 
8. Become familiar with the terrain you will travel on. 
9. Listen to the weather forecast before you leave. 
10. Always wear a helmet and proper clothing. 
11. Never riding alone, and letting someone know where you are going and when you plan to return. 
12. Carrying emergency supplies and learning survival skills.
13. Moderate your pace according to conditions.
14. Watch out for parked cars and vehicles emerging from driveways.
15. Always give motor vehicles the right of way.
16. Be extra cautious approaching intersections.
17. Obey all traffic signs.
18. Slow down wherever snow banks obstruct your view.

 

To ride legally, snowmobile operators must always carry:

  • Valid driver’s licence (or if under age 16, a Snow Vehicle Operator’s Licence)
  • Proof of snowmobile ownership
  • Sled registration (including properly placed registration numbers and validation sticker on sled)
  • Proof of sled insurance (pink slip)
  • Approved snowmobile helmet (for each rider)
  • While snowmobiling for recreation on a Trail, a 2014 Snowmobile Trail Permit (properly displayed on the sled) with permit receipt
 

Insurance Fraud

March is Fraud Awareness Month in the Insurance Industry. Insurance fraud is a serious issue. According to the Ontario Auto Insurance Anti-Fraud Task Force Final Report, auto insurance fraud in Ontario is estimated to cost consumers up to $1.6 billion a year in insurance premiums.

To learn more about insurance fraud, please access our Insurance Fraud Awareness Tip Sheet.

 

Oil Tanks

Oil tank spills can occur for a variety of reasons, but the main causes are corrosion, improper installation, improper tank location, overfilling and/or breaks in the fuel line.

For more information and tips on how you can prevent oil tank spills, pease access our Oil Tank Tip Sheet.

 

Ice Dams

Ice dams can cause serious damage to your roof, shingles, insulation, interior walls, personal property, and - in extreme cases - the structural integrity of your home.

For information and tips on how you can prevent ice dams, please access our Ice Dam Tip Sheet.

 

Basement Flooding

For information on how to reduce your chances of basement flooding, please access our Handbook for Reducing Basement Flooding.

Posted with permission from the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction; authored by Dan Sandink.

 

Sewer Back-up

A small sewer back-up can be a big concern for a homeowner. Access our Sewer Back-up Prevention Tip Sheet for helpful tips to prevent or minimize the effects of most sewer back-up damage.

As well, please visit the Insurance Bureau of Canada website for more tips and information about sewer back-up prevention.

 

Home Inventory

It is important to be aware of all the contents in your home in the event of an insurance claim. A detailed home inventory is also a good tool in determining the value of your belongings for your insurance needs.

If you expereience an insurance claim, having a detailed inventory will make the claim settlement process easier and faster during an inevitably stressful time.

Here are some helpful tips:

  • Go through your house, room by room, including the basement, garage, attic, etc...
  • Write down all contents in each room
  • Take photographs or a video recording of each room
  • Attach photocopies of receipts for valuable items as well as important family documents
  • Store your list in a secure place away from your home, such as a safety deposit box
  • Access free Home Inventory software. 

 

Winter Driving Tips

Being aware of weather conditions is an important part of safe driving, especially when it comes to winter driving. For some tips on how to ensure that you continue to be a safe driver, even through those cold winter months, view our Winter Driving Tip Sheet.