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EDISON BLOG

Keeping Your Home Safe and Secure During the Holiday Season

Holidays and homeowners insurance don’t usually go in the same sentence, but they should. This time of year brings with it extra decorating, extra traveling, and extra fun. This time of year also brings with it more fires and more theft. Therefore, having the proper homeowners coverage can be like having your own Secret Santa or helpful elf. Follow our tips to keep your home safe this December.

 

Practice Electrical Safety

Make sure to inspect any string lights or decorations for frayed cords or cracked bulbs before putting up. Then when you plug in those decorations don’t overload extension cords or outlets. Help prevent overheating and save electricity by utilizing a programmable outlet timer to turn on and off your decorations each night.  

 

Tis the Season for Increased Fire Risk

The kitchen is the number one place home fires start, so double check your smoke alarms and fire extinguisher before cooking any holiday feasts. Another top fire starter is candles. So, if you’re celebrating Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, remember to never leave a lit menorah or kinara unattended and blow out any candles before going to bed or leaving home. And don’t forget to water your live tree often to avoid fire.

 

Be Proactive About Packages

Online shopping during the 2020 holiday season surged 32% than the year prior, and the number is sure to keep growing. More online shopping means more packages to be delivered and opportunities for porch pirates to strike. The best thing is to plan to be home when your package is scheduled for delivery, but if you’re not able, we suggest leaving directions for a safe place to put the package. If shopping on Amazon, you can utilize an Amazon Hub to rest assured your package will be safe.

 

Keep Travel Plans Offline

If you travel during the holiday season, make sure to keep the details of when you’re leaving and how long you’ll be gone off social media. Posting this information gives access for a thief to know when your house will be empty and able to be targeted.

 

Protect Your Empty Home

First and foremost, let your neighbors know of any travel plans during the holidays so they can keep an eye out on your home. While you’re away from your home have your mail held and install smart lighting or programmable outlets to have lights come on in the evening to appear at home. For extra security you can install a security camera or monitored home system to keep an eye on your home.

 

Having a monitored burglar and fire alarm installed can also save you money. Edison Insurance Company provides a policy discount to homeowners who provide a certificate/proof of a monitored system at their home. 

 

Make Sure Your Home is Properly Covered  

These tips will help keep your home safe and limit your exposure to these holiday dangers but it’s important to also review your policy to ensure you are properly protected. Is your Coverage A limit enough to rebuild should a fire burn down your 

home? Is your Coverage C limit enough to replace all your belongings if your home is burglarized?  

 

Keeping your family and home safe and protected is Edison Home Insurance Company’s number one priority. Ask your agent how they can help make sure you have the proper coverage or call us at 866-568-8922.

Protecting Your Identity Now and Through the New Year

Florida is the state most vulnerable to identity theft, according to finance website, WalletHub. In fact, identity theft is reported to have been experienced by 33% of U.S. adults. In 2020 alone there were nearly 1.4 million reports of identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission.

 

These staggering statistics stress the importance of being protected from identity theft. No one wants to go through the process of getting fraud cleared from their name and accounts. By following our tips you’ll be able to better protect your assets and prevent identity theft from happening to you.

 

Keep an eye on credit card and bank statements.

By reviewing these documents on a regular basis, you’ll be able spot unknown charges on your account before it becomes too big of a problem. Should anything appear incorrect, contact your financial institution immediately.

Protect yourself online.

Always make sure you are using a secure site when entering your credit card information online. This means confirming the web address changes to “https” on any page you have to enter valuable information. HTTPS protects customer information by providing extra security and encryption to the forms.

 

Be wary of charity scams.

Do your research before donating to a charity, especially during the holiday season. If you’ve never heard of the organization, it is best to do a quick search online to be sure it is credible. This is often the time of year where we see a rise in charity scams. If you’d like to give back this holiday season, contact the charity of your choice directly to find out how you can donate or volunteer with their organization. 

 

Use alerts for banking and other financial institutions.

Most banks will allow you to sign up for email or text alerts for activity on your account. You can also set up free fraud alerts from the three major credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax.

 

Create different passwords for each account.

Using a unique password for each account will help your other accounts from being at risk. When given the opportunity, always add an authentication step to even further protect access to your account. Also make sure your security question answers are not easy to figure out through social media.

 

Watch your mailbox.

Stolen mail is one of the easiest paths to identity theft. By signing up for Informed Delivery through the USPS you’ll be sent a preview of your mail before it arrives and be able to tell if anything is missing when you collect 

your mail. If going out of town, make sure to have your mail held by the post office until you’re back.

 

Shred documents containing personal information.

Destroying documents with your personal information reduces the likelihood of becoming a victim of identity theft. Anything containing sensitive information such as an account number, billing statement, or credit card number should be shredded before being thrown in the trash or recycling.

 

Add Identity Theft Coverage to Your Homeowners Policy


We hope you’ll keep these suggestions in mind to protect your personal information and finances during this busy time of year. Unfortunately, some things fall through the cracks so it’s important to be prepared for the worst.

 

Should you fall victim to identity theft, Edison Insurance is here to help. For a minimal annual cost of $25, we offer our policyholders protection against identity theft. Our ID theft protection will restore your credit to the level it was prior to the breach and will reimburse our policyholders up to $25,000 in out-of-pocket expenses used to reestablish your credit. To learn more about additional coverages we offer, click here.

 

Keeping your family and home safe and protected is Edison Insurance Company’s number one priority. Ask your agent how they can help make sure you have the proper coverage or call us at 866-568-8922.

Holiday Safety Tips

We would like to provide the following tips to lessen the risk of an accident occurring this holiday season.

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Contractor Fraud: What It Is and Tips To Help Avoid It

When you experience home damage, especially to critical areas of your home like the roof, you probably want a contractor to come out and fix it immediately. However, there is good reason to hold off until you find a trustworthy and reliable contractor. Why? Although most contractors aim to provide quality services, you still run the risk of encountering a few who may engage in contractor fraud.

 

Here we explain what contractor fraud is, warning signs of contractor fraud, as well as give you tips to help you avoid common scams.

 

What Is Contractor Fraud?

Contractor fraud occurs when individual contractors or contracting firms hired to repair, renovate, or build residential or commercial properties knowingly offer misleading services, such as charging more than a contract is worth or performing unsatisfactory work. This usually results in negative consequences for homeowners and could lead to additional repairs and expenses because of poor workmanship or fraudulent charges.

 

Tips For Avoiding Common Contractor Scams

Here are a few common contractor scams and how to avoid them.

 

1. Requesting Full Payment Upfront

This is one of the biggest giveaways when it comes to contractor fraud. Your contractor asks for full payment upfront to order the materials and equipment 

needed for the job. After this, they go missing with your money, continue to delay your project for months or perform unsatisfactory work.

 

How To Avoid This Scam: Never pay more than the legal maximum in your state upfront. Usually, this will be no more than 10% of the contract total. The only purpose of an advance is to establish you as a serious customer and the contractor can work you into their schedule. As for material and equipment costs, remember, if your contractor is reputable, their suppliers will provide materials to them on credit.

 

2. Encountering Unforeseen Problems and Requiring Additional Payment

Another warning sign of contractor fraud could be your contractor encountering serious, unexpected issues like plumbing problems or termite damage – after they’ve started the job. Your contractor then requests significant payment to fix the problem, leaving you with no choice but to pay to keep the project going.

 

How To Avoid This Scam: Before you sign a contract, make sure it includes a process for change orders, which are mini contracts containing a project description and a fixed price for any tasks you add to the contract. This extra work should only occur after both the homeowner and contractor both sign off on the change.  

 

3. Using Materials Leftover from Previous Jobs

You should be wary of contractors who claim they can offer you a great deal by performing the job with materials leftover from previous jobs.

 

How To Avoid This Scam: Do not hire contractors on the spot. Be sure to check your contractor’s background to make sure they are reputable and perform quality work.

 

4. Offering Free Inspections

Many legitimate contractors won’t charge you for an estimate, but you should still be on guard. Especially with the elderly, look out for contractors who perform 

inspections in areas of your home you can’t easily access, such as attics or crawl spaces.

 

How To Avoid This Scam: Be sure to pay extra attention to your contractor’s assessment. Also, it’s a good idea to get more than one estimate.

 

5. No Contract

Never agree to a job if there is no written contract.

 

How To Avoid This Scam: Always require a written (not verbal) contract including all the details of the job you want and agree to. You and your contractor should sign a written contract agreed to by both parties.

 

6. Lack of Permits

Significant construction and renovation projects require you to have a building permit to ensure your work meets safety codes. Fraudulent contractors may try to get past this requirement, so they don’t have to deal with building inspectors, by not obtaining the required permits or requesting the homeowner apply for the permit with their own name.

 

How To Avoid This Scam: Always ask your contractor to get a building permit, if required. This will result in your local tax assessor being informed about your upgrade, but it filters out unlicensed contractors.

 

More General Tips For Avoiding Contractor Fraud

 

1. Verify insurance: Make sure to verify if your contractor has the necessary insurance to work in your area. Check with your contractor’s insurance carrier to confirm they have coverage for worker’s compensation, property damage, and personal liability should there be an accident.

2. Prepare for future service issues: Be sure you are well-informed about your warranty coverage and how to deal with future service issues.

3. Get your lien waiver: In the U.S., a lien waiver is a document from your contractor stating they received full payment.

 

4. Keep your contract: Stash your contract in a safe place just in case you have any questions after the work is finished.

 

Before Hiring a Contractor, Contact Your Insurer

Doing your due diligence by researching your contractor is the best way to avoid fraud. Be sure to ask for references and trust your gut if you feel anything is off. It’s also important to talk to your insurer before any work is commissioned to make sure it’s within your policy.

 

If you’re not happy with your current policy, be sure to contact Edison Insurance. We can help to customize your homeowners coverage so you have peace of mind.

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