Category: Personal Insurance

Storm Safety Reminders from The Van Dyk Group

Storm Safety Reminders

Hurricane Watch: issued when hurricane conditions are a real possibility for an area.

Hurricane Warning: issued when a hurricane is expected within 24 hours. START GETTING READY!

Act Now to be Prepared

  •     Develop a family plan for survival and property protection.
  •     If your home is in a potential flood or storm surge zone, be prepared to evacuate when officials recommend.
  •     Plan what you will do with your pet.
  •     Inventory personal property; safely secure all records and valuable documents in a watertight place.
  •     Have materials available to protect your doors and windows.
  •     Have emergency cash or traveler’s checks saved.
  •     Put together a family hurricane evacuation kit.

Hurricane Warning

  •     Listen for weather updates and stay informed.
  •     Keep a portable radio and flashlight on hand – with fresh batteries.
  •     Re-check all emergency supplies and equipment.
  •     Clear your yard of all loose objects.
  •     Double check your shed and contents are secure.
  •     Store drinking water in clean containers.
  •     Shutter, board or tape all windows.
  •     Plan a flood-free evacuation route, and know where to go.
  •     If ordered to evacuate – comply immediately!

Keep a Hurricane Evacuation Kit ready to go once a warning is issued. Include battery-operated radio and flashlight, plus the following:

  •     First aid kit.
  •     Two-week supply of medicine.
  •     Blankets or sleeping bags.
  •     Extra clothing, infant necessities.
  •     Personal items including books and toys.
  •     Important papers (valid ID).
  •     Checkbook, cash, credit card, ATM cards.
  •     Insurance information

 

After the Storm

  • Do not enter evacuated areas until local officials have issued an all clear.
  • Stay away from disaster areas. Do not sightsee!
  • Obey all curfews and emergency orders that are issued.
  • If you must drive, use caution. Be aware of road and bridge washouts,   and storm debris on roadways.
  • Avoid all downed power lines. Assume that all have live electricity.
  • Once the storm has safely passes: Inspect for Damage. When inspecting your property for damage, be careful to avoid injury.

To check if you are properly insured for a hurricane or for more information call your local Van Dyk Group office

Safe Boating Tips

Top Ten Boating Safety Tips from The Van Dyk Group:

1. Always wear a life jacket and insist that your crew and guests do the same. Approximately 70 percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned in 2011. Eighty-four percent of those who drowned were not wearing a life jacket, and 8 out of every 10 boaters who drowned were on vessels less than 21 feet in length. Always have an adequate supply of life jackets aboard.

2. Never drink alcohol while boating. Alcohol use was the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents in 2011. Stay sharp on the water by having a designated driver just like you would on land.

3. Take a boating safety course. Only 11% of deaths occurred on boats where the operator had received boating safety instruction. You might even qualify for an insurance discount!

4. Stay in control by taking charge of your safety and that of your passengers. Boaters between the ages of 36 and 55, who comprise approximately 30% of all the operators, accounted for the highest rate of accidents, injuries and fatalities in 2011. Don’t forget that safety begins with you.

5. Understand and obey boating safety recommendations and navigational rules. Imagine the mayhem that would result if car drivers disregarded highway traffic laws. Know and understand boating safety procedures and rules of navigation before taking to the water, and practice them without fail.

6. Operate at a safe speed and always maintain a proper lookout. Overall, operator inattention, operator inexperience, excess speed and improper lookout were the leading contributing factors in all reported accidents.  Know your boat’s limitations as well as your own. Take note of visibility, traffic density and the proximity of navigation hazards like shoals, rocks or floating objects. Don’t invite a collision by going faster than is prudent.

7. Check the weather forecast. A calm day can quickly turn ugly on the water. Keep an eye out for changing weather conditions and stay on top of the forecast while boating. Promptly heed all weather and storm advisories.

8. Hypothermia is a significant risk factor for injury and even death while boating. Cold water accelerates the onset and progression of hypothermia since body heat can be lost 25 times faster in cold water than in cold air. The closer you are to rescue support the better your chances are, therefore an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon or Global Positioning System interfaced Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB/GPIRB), and/or a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), is recommended today for all boaters.

9. Use a carbon monoxide (CO) detector. CO can harm and even kill you inside or on the deck of your boat. All internal combustion engines emit carbon monoxide, an odorless, tasteless, colorless, poisonous gas that can make you sick in seconds and kill in minutes. Even just a few breaths in high enough concentrations can be fatal. CO symptoms are similar to seasickness or alcohol intoxication, and can affect you whether you are underway, moored or anchored. Remember, you cannot see, smell or taste CO!

10. File a float plan. The U.S. Coast Guard recommends that you always tell a friend or family member where you plan to go and when you’ll be back. Make it a habit before leaving on any boat trip. The proper officials can be notified promptly if you don’t return when expected.

And most important Remember, you can have your vessel checked for safety – for free!  

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadron offer Vessel Safety Checks at no cost. Their certified vessel examiners will check your boat’s equipment and provide information about its use, safety procedures and applicable regulations. Unsafe boats are a threat to all recreational boaters. Make sure your vessel is as safe as possible. Carry USCG currently approved visual distress signals at all times. Visit the U.S. Coast Guard web site at: www.uscgboating.org/fedreqs/default.html for more information.

Flood Insurance Bill Eases Increases

Flooding on Long Beach Blvd in Dec of 2012

Flooding on Long Beach Blvd in Dec of 2012

The Homeowner Flood Affordability Act of 2013, written by Senator Robert Menendez of NJ and Representative Michael Grimm of NY, has now passed the Senate and is on it’s way to the President’s desk to be signed into law. This eases the some increases and changes that went into affect as a result of the Biggert Waters Flood Act.  A more detailed rundown can be found on the Insurance Journal website, but here is a quick overview of changes that will help many homeowners along the Jersey Shore, and across the country for that matter. First, it puts the maximum increase NFIP can impose at 18% per year, with some property classes having a 15% cap on increases.  This is the maximum that NFIP can increase a policy each year. The Bill also repeals both the property sales and new policy sales trigger.  Under Biggert Waters, the home buyer and homeowner who are purchasing a new house, or new policy on their current house would immediately have to pay the full risk rate.  Both of these provisions have been repealed, and in both instances, subsidized rates would still be available. It also restores “grandfathering” and sets a hard cap on policy increases per year.  This relieves property owners who were mapped into a higher zone from being forced to raise their houses or have higher rates phased in over 5 years. There is also a slight change to the Reserve Fund that was set up as a result of Biggert Waters.  Now a fee of $25 per policy for primary residence, and $250 per policy for a secondary residence will be imposed on all policies.  This is changed from a 5% fee on all policies that Biggert Waters called for. There are many other changes that this Bill addresses also.  For a complete rundown, the article I mentioned above from the Insurance Journal is well worth the read.  You can also click here to view the article. Feel free to get in touch with our Insurance Dept. if you have any questions on how these changes might impact you.  

Flood Insurance Changes Taking Place this Month

When the Biggert-Waters Flood Act was passed last July, very few knew that it would take over a year for some of the major provisions of the bill to kick in. In fact, some of the changes were not even announced until almost a year after the bill passed, and less than 6 months from the time many of the provision go into affect. October 1st, 2013 is one of the dates where some major changes are set to go into affect. There are a few provisions that go into affect as of Oct 1, but the ones that will affect the most people are the Elevation Certificate requirement on all Flood Insurance Policies, and the elimination of subsidized rates for Pre-FIRM (Flood Insurance Rate Map) homes. From here on out, Flood Insurance rates will be based on the actual elevation of the house (actuarial rate), no matter if it was built before or after the Rate Map was released in the mid-70’s. Until now, Pre-Firm homes were allowed to keep their subsidized rates. However, as of Oct 1, 2013, Non-Primary Homes (under 80% occupancy per year), will no longer be allowed to keep their subsidized rates, and will see an increase of 25% per year until the actuarial rate is achieved. The actuarial rate for a home is pre-set by the National Flood Insurance Program and is based on the elevation of the house, which is why Elevation Certificates are now required. Primary homeowners will get to keep their subsidized rates as long as they keep their policy. As of Oct 1, 2013, however, once they let the policy lapse, assign the policy, or for any new policy, the actuarial rate will begin from day one, and will not be phased in at the 25% per year pace. But that news is not all bad, as in many cases, the actuarial rate is less expensive under the new law. For example, the actuarial rate before Biggert-Waters for a Single Story Pre-Firm home that is in an AE Flood Zone, is at Base Flood Elevation and without an Elevation Certificate is $3,600 per year. Under the new law, that same house will now have an actuarial rate of $1,815. If that same house is 4 ft above Base Flood Elevation, the actuarial rate under the new law will be $553 per year. So its important to get an Elevation Certificate to determine the Base Flood Elevation. In many cases, rates will not go up that much, if at all. There are some other changes that take affect on Oct 1, 2013 as well. For example, all Business Owners that are using subsidized rates will now see a 25% rate increase per yer until the actuarial rate is achieved. The same goes for properties that are deemed to be severe repetitive loss properties, who have had sever flood damage multiple times. Also the limit on the amount rates can go up each year was raised from 10%-20%, plus there will be an additional 5% fee charged to all Flood Policies the set up a Reserve Fund. It is very important to speak with your Insurance agent to determine the affect the changes will have on you. The best advice right now is to get an Elevation Certificate. Then you will get a true picture of what needs to be done, if anything, to keep your Flood Insurance rates low.

New FEMA Base Elevation Requirements are Released

This past weekend, FEMA released the new flood elevation maps for those areas that were affected by Super Storm Sandy. Here you will be able to search by address and find out what the Advisory Base Flood Elevation (ABFE) is for that property. It is choked full of other information as well. After entering the address, and clicking “Get Details” you will not only get the new AFBE, it will also give you the old base elevation, as well as what Flood Zone the property is in. There are also numerous links to other reports and information regarding the elevation of the property.* While this is going to apply to any new homes that are built in flood zones, it will also apply to those homes that the are deemed to “substantially damaged” by the Township in which the property is located. On the Long Beach Township home page, they explain this a little more in the “Repair Your Flood Damaged Home” section about a quarter of the way down the page. They also explain that if the home is deemed to be substantially damage, you must now meet the the required flood elevation for that location. They also give some guidance as to what the Township will deemed as substantially damaged. Of course each town’s requirements may be slightly different, but this is an example what homeowners need to take into consideration when they are deciding what to do with their damaged homes. *Update as of December 19, 2012 – All owners should click on the “Link to AFBE Map” to view the actual map. It gives two different numbers as a base elevation, the 1% Elevation and the 2% Elevation. Here is a link to the definitions, but its essentially the percentage chance that the elevation will be breached by water in a given year. The general difference in feet between the two number are 4-5 feet. For example, our LBI office has a 1% advisory base elevation of 9 feet, and a 2% advisory base of 13 feet. These are the numbers to pay close attention to. We are hearing that Long Beach Township will adopt the 2% ABFE in their buiding ordinances, which means new homes and those deemed substantially damaged will have to raise their house to the 2% elevation. Regarding what is deemed substantially damaged, we are hearing that if the damage to your home is 49-50% of the buildings value, it will be deemed substantially damaged and be forced to comply with the flood regualtions. On Friday, Dec 21, 2012, Long Beach Township is expected to introduce its new FEMA ordinances, so stay tuned…

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