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1945: a key year in understanding home reconstruction costs

By Melissa Kamp

1945: a key year in understanding home reconstruction costs

The overall average cost to rebuild a home constructed prior to 1945 is about double the cost of modern homes.

Owners who treasure their older houses are sometimes surprised by the high estimated cost to rebuild their homes, should they have a total loss. But a little history lesson may help explain why reconstruction costs on homes built prior to 1945 can be challenging.

What happened in 1945 to make construction costs change so much?

‘Out of sight, out of mind’ can be a dangerous boiler strategy

By Duane Cantrell

‘Out of sight, out of mind' can be a dangerous boiler strategy

Even though a modern boiler may be small, it still requires regular inspection and maintenance.

Boilers are more compact and efficient than ever before. Homes, commercial buildings and industrial occupancies that once required large heating boilers can now be heated using smaller and smaller boilers.

There is almost no downside to constructing boilers to be smaller and more efficient – at least, not as long as the boiler does not slip “out of mind” because it is so small that it’s “out of sight.”

The Minnesota Department of Labor & Industry recently released an analysis of a catastrophic boiler explosion, This Boiler Was Too Small for Inspection. Photos in the report show walls, doors and equipment destroyed when the boiler exploded in a building used for a daycare center. As the report said, “The explosion and damage happened in less than a second, without warning, by a boiler that was rated too small for inspection.”

The report shows the importance of ongoing boiler service and safety inspections even when the boiler is too small to require inspections outlined by state or municipal code.

If you have a boiler in your home or business, periodic maintenance or service inspections are essential. Many heating companies offer service contracts that include a minimum of two inspections per year. These service inspections or “system tune-ups” are generally scheduled to coincide with the beginning of the heating and the cooling seasons.

This simple and economical step can prevent a potential catastrophic event by making sure that your boiler – regardless of how small and “out of sight” – will be seen regularly by a knowledgeable, professional inspector. Protect your home or business by assuring your boiler is maintained for safe operation.

See also:

Prevent boiler catastrophe with periodic inspections

Heating systems need preseason maintenance

This loss control information is advisory only. The author assumes no responsibility for management or control of loss control activities. Not all exposures are identified in this article.

The post ‘Out of sight, out of mind’ can be a dangerous boiler strategy appeared first on The Cincinnati Insurance Companies blog.

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Fixed annuities are alternatives to CDs

By Nick Elbert

Fixed annuities are alternatives to CDs

When shopping for a fixed annuity, take the time to consider your needs and know your options.

Are you tired of making less than 1 percent on your money and having to pay taxes on that growth? Do you enjoy the flexibility of being able to access your money and not having it “locked up” for several years? If you answered yes to both of those questions, let me introduce you to the benefits of purchasing a fixed annuity.

Q: So what is a fixed annuity?

A: A fixed annuity is a contract that provides a guaranteed interest rate as well as the ability to provide income for life, income for a specified number of years or a combination of the two.

Q: Is a fixed annuity safe?

A: Yes. Look for a fixed annuity contract with a built-in option that guarantees return of your premium deposit. Even if you cancel the contract during the surrender period, at minimum you will still get your initial deposit back – assuming you have taken no withdrawals

Q: Can I lose money in a fixed annuity?

A: In most cases the answer will be no. Fixed annuities have guaranteed rates. Look for a fixed annuity that has a yearly guaranteed rate. Then, as interest rates rise, your fixed annuity rate will also increase. It also has a guaranteed minimum interest rate that allows for growth in your annuity regardless of what the financial market is doing. There is a small risk of losing money should the company where you purchased your annuity file for bankruptcy. This is another reason for choosing a company that is financially secure.

Q: How do I know if a company is financially sound?

A: Check out the company’s rating with A.M. Best Co., an independent provider of insurance ratings since 1899.

Q: What are the tax advantages in a fixed annuity?

A: There are two main tax advantages.

  • Tax-deferred growth. With CDs, you have to pay taxes on growth yearly. With a fixed annuity, you defer those taxes until you start withdrawing.
  • Tax deduction for contributions. You can add an IRA endorsement, which may allow you to take a tax deduction when you make a contribution.

Q: Do I have access to my money?
A: Some fixed annuities charge a penalty, or surrender charge, in the first several years if you cancel the contract or withdraw money. Look for a fixed annuity that …read more

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Manufacture your best policy

By Russ Blessing

Manufacture your best policy

Insurance protection is more than product liability.

There are close to 300,000 manufacturing businesses across America, ranging from machine shops to woodworkers to plastics manufacturers. All of them need a comprehensive insurance policy.

MORE THAN PRODUCT LIABILITY

People often think of insurance protecting a manufacturer against liability claims stemming from products they made. But insurance coverage should be much more than that.

What if you are a manufacturer and are unable to continue making your product because of something that happened off of your premises? For example, a tornado knocks out power lines that prevent you from getting the power your machines need to run. Or, your water source is cut off, preventing you from completing your product. Off premises utility coverage provides coverage when power, water or communications are interrupted from a covered cause, and it leads to a loss for your business.

UTILITY SERVICE INTERRUPTION

Interruption of any of these utilities can cause a loss to business income, business personal property or the building itself, so any combination of coverages is available. The most common coverage combination is insuring business income for a loss of power. Knowing how much your business would lose if there were a loss of power for a day, a week or a month will help you properly insure that exposure.

As severe weather continues to affect operations across the country, manufacturing plants are susceptible to loss of power due to damaged power plants, substations and downed overhead transmission and distribution lines. Many business owners assume that if they don’t have power, they will receive business income coverage for their loss of production. This is not always the case.

If a storm rolls through the area but causes no physical damage to your insured property, business income coverage is not generally provided even if you have lost power. Off premises power coverage can pay for a loss of business income stemming from a loss of power that takes place off of your premises.

SEE YOUR LOCAL AGENT

Every manufacturer has unique insurance needs, and many coverage options are available. To make sure you get the protection your business needs, discuss your exposures with your independent insurance agent.

Coverages described here are in the most general terms and are subject to actual policy conditions and exclusions. For actual coverage wording, conditions and exclusions, refer to the policy or contact your independent agent.

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What’s happening to my paintings?

By Doug Eisele

What's happening to my paintings?
Part 1 of 3 –

Paintings can be protected to some extent from the effects of normal aging by good preventative conservation measures and from physical damage by good hanging, handling and storage procedures. However, time transforms most paintings in one way or another.

While many are resilient, others can be extremely sensitive to both physical and environmental change. Paintings often suffer damage and deterioration both through their natural aging process and from accidents, mishandling, improper storage and display, exposure to extreme or fluctuating temperatures and relative humidity, improper cleaning and substandard restorations.

All the materials used in the creation of a painting exhibit some degree of decay over time. Paintings undergo change during the first six months of their life, as the solvent evaporates and the paint begins to dry. As paint dries, a pattern of cracks (craquelure) can develop. Surface cracks may also be an indication that the artist used faulty materials or techniques.

DARKEN AS THEY AGE

Paintings in oil become more transparent as chemical changes occur over time. Varnish layers begin to yellow and darken as they age and can also become more brittle than the paint itself and form its own crackle pattern or flaking independent of the paint.

Other effects of aging include the change in tone or fading of some pigments, for example some greens may turn brown, blues can go gray and reds can fade. These effects are reduced if the painting has not been exposed to light.

SURFACE DIRT

Frequently, the surface of a painting is covered with layers of surface dirt and grime, deposited over time from candles, smoke, fires and general atmospheric contamination. The dirt can settle into the paint layers on unvarnished paintings making it nearly impossible to remove without damaging the paint. A whitish haze can develop in paintings stored in damp conditions where moisture has penetrated the paint layers. This effect is known as bloom.

Paintings are often composed of incompatible materials, each having different reactions to changes in relative humidity, temperature and light. Small changes are absorbed by the materials which are reasonably elastic. This elasticity, however, diminishes with age and eventually the painting cannot absorb the stresses caused by these fluctuations.

PHYSICAL DAMAGE

Most paintings of any age have had some physical change or damage inflicted upon them. Paintings all run the risk of being scratched, knocked, dented, torn or punctured. The paint layers generally show in time the effect of various sorts of impact …read more

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Focus Four construction-related hazards: Caught in

By Troy Dohmeyer

Focus Four construction-related hazards: Caught in

Part 4 of 4

Construction is among the most dangerous industries in the country. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data for 2014 showed 885 fatal on-the-job injuries, more than in any other single industry sector and nearly one out of every five work-related deaths in the U.S. that year. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) calls the leading causes of worker deaths on construction sites its Focus Four: falls, electrocution, struck by and caught in or between. These four leading hazards are responsible for 71 percent of deaths and injuries in construction.

The number of fatalities involving being caught in or between hazards in the private construction industry has decreased by about 26 percent since 2009. The largest decrease has been in excavation or trench cave-ins. However, in 2014, 36 construction fatalities still occurred as a result of such hazards.

Workplace risks that could be classified as caught-in hazards include:

  • Cave-ins (trenching)
  • Being pulled into or caught in machinery and equipment; this includes strangulation as the result of clothing caught in running machinery and equipment
  • Being compressed or crushed between rolling, sliding or shifting objects, such as semitrailers and a dock wall, or between a truck frame and a hydraulic bed that is lowering

To help mitigate these risks:

  • Use machinery that is properly guarded.
  • Use other methods to ensure that machinery is sufficiently supported, secured or otherwise made safe (for example, de-energize equipment and use lockout/tagout and blocking procedures.)
  • Use protection to prevent being pinned between equipment, materials or other objects.
  • Avoid entry or work in unsafe excavations and allow work only after inspection by a competent person.
  • Seek and take advantage of safety training opportunities.
  • Take extra precautions and considerations before entering into confined or enclosed spaces.

Without losing sight of other workplace hazards, employers must pay attention to the Focus Four to further reduce the trend in workplace fatalities.

To mitigate these fatality statistics, OSHA and other professional safety and health organizations, both in the private and public sectors, are targeting these contributing factors. OSHA has developed training presentations, handouts and toolbox topics available on OSHA’s website. Other occupational safety and health resources available to you include your safety department, your industry association, accredited safety and industrial hygiene professionals or your local independent insurance agent.

Part 1: Falls

Part 2: Electrocution

Part 3: Struck By

This loss control information is advisory only. The author assumes no responsibility for management or control …read more

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The benefits of working with an independent agent

By Kirsten Faherty

The benefits of working with an independent agent

An independent insurance agent can help you get the right fit.

After a lot of saving and planning, my sister and her family bought their dream home. Sadly, a storm damaged their roof, and she’s had difficulty resolving her claim. Her family did not purchase their insurance through an independent agent. I encouraged her to give her carrier the opportunity to see things through, but I also suggested that once her claim is resolved, she might consider an independent agent to help her better determine the right carrier and insurance products for her family’s needs.

My sister and her husband are busy with their jobs and kids, and it never occurred to them to research insurance options. After their recent experience, they are coming to understand that how your insurance company treats you when you have a claim matters.

My sister hadn’t considered why it’s advantageous to partner with an independent insurance agent and actually didn’t know the difference between independent and captive agents (agents that represent one company). Like many people, she hadn’t thought about the various ways of buying insurance and the differences among them. It’s easy to compare the concept to buying shoes for her kids.

Quality: My sister wants the highest quality shoes that she can afford for her children. After all, those shoes are what will protect their feet and carry them on all their daily adventures. Likewise, you want the best insurance products your money can buy to protect your belongings, and an independent agent can offer them to you. Independent agents are business owners who select the most desirable carriers, apply to represent them and sell their insurance products. So when agents represent a carrier, it’s because they believe in the carrier enough to associate their own business’ name and reputation with it.

Selection: Instead of going to a store that carried only one brand of shoes, my sister would go to a store that offered a variety of quality brands with different features and styles. Similarly, an independent agent offers a selection of products to meet clients’ needs, whether the clients’ focus is on claims service, specialized coverages or even cost. Independent agents ask questions, listen and make recommendations – maybe your child will soon be old enough to drive, you have a special collection to protect or you plan to buy a rental property. Whatever your situation, your agent has options to match you …read more

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Focus Four construction-related hazards: Struck by

By Troy Dohmeyer

Focus Four construction-related hazards: Struck by

Part 3 of 4

Construction is among the most dangerous industries in the country. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data for 2014 showed 885 fatal on-the-job injuries, more than in any other single industry sector and nearly one out of every five work-related deaths in the U.S. that year. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) calls the leading causes of worker deaths on construction sites its Focus Four: falls, electrocution, struck by object and caught in or between. These four leading hazards are responsible for 71 percent of deaths and injuries in construction.

Struck-by injuries are produced by forcible contact or impact between the injured person and an object or piece of equipment.

Hazards are categorized as:

  • flying object
  • falling object
  • swinging object
  • rolling object

For example, four workers were installing signs on a highway when a pickup truck changed several lanes and entered the work area. The truck struck one worker, knocking him off the road and over a bridge rail. He fell approximately 18 feet and died from his injuries.

Another example occurred when an employee was struck by a nail from a nail gun fired by another employee through a wall made of wallboard.

In another case, four workers were struck by an exterior wall while attempting to lift it in place. Three of the workers received bruises and contusions. One of the workers sustained a fractured leg and was hospitalized.

In 2014, 138 occupational fatalities were caused by struck-by hazards. To better prevent struck-by incidents:

  • Never position yourself between moving and fixed objects.
  • Stay alert of heavy equipment and stay clear of lifted or suspended loads.
  • Check vehicles before each shift to ensure that all parts and accessories are in safe operating condition.
  • Do not drive a vehicle in reverse gear with an obstructed rear view, unless it has an audible reverse alarm or another worker signals that it is safe.
  • Wear appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE) to include eyes, face, head and high-visibility clothing.

Without losing sight of other workplace hazards, employers must pay attention to the Focus Four to further reduce the trend in workplace fatalities.

To mitigate these fatality statistics, OSHA and other professional safety and health organizations, both in the private and public sectors, are targeting these contributing factors. OSHA has developed training presentations, handouts and toolbox topics available on OSHA’s website. Other occupational safety and health resources available to you include your safety department, your industry association, accredited safety and industrial hygiene professionals or …read more

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