December 11, 2017

Preparing Your Business for Winter’s Worst

Snow-Business-winter-safety

Preparing Your Business for Winter’s Worst

By | Commercial Insurance | No Comments

Unpredictable winter weather can wreak havoc on your property. Winter storms can result in an assortment of business challenges caused by frozen pipes, blackouts as well as snow and ice storms. The fall is an ideal time to prepare your property and protect it against serious damage and business disruption caused by the cold.

Frozen Pipes

Thousands of people experience frozen and burst pipes every year and even a small crack leaking for one day can release over 250 gallons of water. Pipe insulation can protect your pipes for as little as 50 cents per foot, while a single burst pipe averages $5,000 in damages.

Prevent frozen and burst pipes with these simple steps.

  • Visually inspect the exterior of your building, and seal any air leaks close to the pipes with insulation or caulk.
  • Maintain 65°F (18°C) or higher in the building during the winter.
  • Disconnect outdoor hoses and shut off the indoor water valve.
  • During unusually cold snaps, allow one faucet to drip warm water slowly. Even a small trickle can aid in preventing pipes from freezing.
  • Install pipe insulation for as little as 50 cents per foot.
  • Wrap high-risk pipes (i.e. those in an unheated areas) with heat cables or heat tape. Make sure these products are approved by testing organizations, and follow the installation instructions carefully.
  • When leaving the building for an extended period of time, have someone check on it daily when temperatures drop significantly.

Blackouts

Blackouts are traditionally associated with spring storms, but the winter has the potential to cause blackouts as well. The weight of ice and snow on wires, combined with downed tree limbs are the primary causes. Unlike springtime, a blackout during cold months presents additional challenges and potential for loss. Consider these steps to protect your business from disruptions caused by unwelcome winter weather.

  • Develop a communication plan for all critical employees.
  • Arrange for alternate supplies of critical materials.
  • Implement a procedure to maintain your building’s protective features such as alarm systems and sprinkler systems.
  • Plan to maintain heat to avoid pipes from freezing through the use of supplemental heat or back up power.
  • Research vendor agreements to service customers in the event your company is unable to.
  • Plan to deal with product spoilage, which can include transfer of product, accelerated delivery to customers and/or delayed deliveries from suppliers, etc.
  • Consider a retainer contract with a power rental dealer if the business power requirements are very high. Ultimately, supplemental power for businesses require more planning due to larger electrical load requirements.

Snow or Ice Build-Up

Most roofs are designed to withstand 30lbs of weight per sq. ft. Winter storms with significant snow or ice build-up create especially difficult challenges that can jeopardize your building if it’s not equipped to handle the weight. Consider the suggestions below to protect your property.

  • Inspect gutters, downspouts and scuppers for damage, blockages, vegetation and any other fault that would prevent their proper operation. Examine the fasteners, hangers and supports as well.
  • Survey the condition of your roof and have all required repairs made to the roof surface, including all flashing and fasteners.
  • Check for heat leaking into attics and concealed spaces under the roof to minimize the potential for ice dams.
  • Create a snow removal plan or contract for snow removal and ice treatment.

Find a Broker to chat more about our Commercial Insurance product.

November 28, 2017

Winterizing Your Home Before a Vacation

airplane-getaway-vacation-flight

Winterizing Your Home Before a Vacation

By | Home Insurance | No Comments

Are you a snowbird heading out of town for months at a time? Maybe you’re just taking your family on vacation for a couple weeks to beat the winter blues. In either case, your entire household will leave, and your home will be left behind.

A home with no lights and no activity is a target for thieves.

Damage to empty homes from a leak or power surge can go unnoticed for weeks.

Keep your home safe while you’re away this winter by preparing ahead of time. So, before you lock the door, give your home a WASH! Look at Water, check Appliances, make it Secure, and Heat it correctly.

Water

  • Turn off water at the meter
  • Open all faucets and drain all water lines. If your area is prone to freezing temperatures, drain the toilet and water heater too.
  • If your area allows, pour RV type antifreeze in drain traps.
  • Remove/empty whole hose water filters.
  • Use an air compressor to remove any residual water in pipes.
  • Follow manufacturers instructions to winterize refrigerator/ice maker/water dispenser.
  • Consult a plumber for winterizing well pressure tanks, water softeners, acid neutralizers, etc.
  • If you will be gone for an extended time, cover toilet bowl with plastic wrap to prevent evaporation of toilet trap and entrance of sewer gases.

Appliances

  • Unplug appliances to prevent damage from power surges.
  • Empty and clean refrigerator, leave door ajar.
  • Disconnect and drain hoses for washing machine.

Security

  • Lock all doors and windows, use storm shutters if equipped.
  • Leave contact information with your neighbours or a friend.
  • Consider maintaining exterior security lighting on timers.

Heating

  • If you heat your home while away, adjust to maintain the temperature above 50°F (10°C) to prevent mold and mildew on furnishings from condensation. Consider purchasing a temperature-monitoring system.
  • Have heating contractor winterize the system, if turned off.
  • Lower temperature setting on gas water heater or switch to vacation mode.
  • Drain whole house humidifier.

Leaving your home unattended for an extended period of time increases the chances of property damage or theft. Take proactive steps to winterizing your home when your household is out of town and you can vacation peacefully knowing your home is as safe as can be.

 


 

fireplace-wood-heat-stove-comfortable Looking for more?

Here are three safety tips for your wood heat stove or fireplace.

November 17, 2017

3 Wood Heat Safety Tips

fireplace-wood-heat-stove-comfortable

3 Wood Heat Safety Tips

By | Home Insurance | No Comments

Fired up for the warm crackle of a wood heat stove or fireplace this winter?

Before you light the kindling, ensure your stove or fireplace is ready for the season by following these tips!

Inspect and Clean

Ash and creosote naturally build up inside a wood heat stove and fireplace when you burn wood. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendation for your device maintenance and cleaning; scheduling an annual inspection is also a fairly common best practice. To keep your stove or fireplace in tip top shape, we suggest hiring a professional chimney sweep to complete the maintenance and cleaning.

Use a Screen

If your wood burning fireplace is designed without a cover, consider purchasing a good quality screen. A screen provides protection for the floor and carpets and moves easily so you can tend to the fire. It also prevents children from getting too close to the flames.

Install Safety Features

Purchase an ABC-type fire extinguisher and store it near your wood heat stove or fireplace. If a fire catches outside of its intended spot, you are prepared to put it out. Another essential safety feature for your home is a carbon monoxide detector. If the ventilation or flue of your stove or fireplace is blocked, carbon monoxide will build up in your home. A detector will alert you if a build up occurs, so you and your family can safely exit the home.

Bonus

Did you know that dry, well-aged wood burns the best? You will be able to start the fire easily, see less smoke and ash, and a enjoy a better burn. You can identify seasoned wood by checking the ends of the log to see if they are darkened and have cracks or splits. It should be, relatively, light weight and make a “clunk” when two pieces are beat together. You can also purchase a moisture meter to know exactly how much moisture is in the logs.

November 1, 2017

Power Outage at MFI

Power Outage at MFI

By | Mutual Fire Insurance | No Comments

UPDATE 11:09am

The power has been restored in our office and we are available to assist you.

___

The power at Mutual Fire Insurance is out due to a fault on the transmission line serving the areas of Port Kells, Walnut Grove and Fort Langley. We are unsure of when our power will be reconnected. This means both our phones and our computers are disconnected and we are unable to review our files to help our broker partners and policyholders.

We will update you soon when the power is restored.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may caused you.

If you need to make a claim please contact our 24-hour claims lines

British Columbia: 1.855.535.0554

Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario: 1.877.896.0113

 

October 17, 2017

Breaking Down Equipment Breakdown for Farm Insurance Policies

barn-farm-equipment

Breaking Down Equipment Breakdown for Farm Insurance Policies

By | Farm Insurance, Insurance Explained | No Comments

Operating a modern, commercial agricultural business means investing in the necessary equipment to operate. From 10 acres to 1,000 acres, there’s an exhaustive list of equipment and technology you use to operate your farm. Minimize downtime and save yourself the hassle of hiring to repair mechanical, electrical, and pressure systems by choosing to add farm equipment breakdown coverage to your insurance policy.

Many insurance policies limit or exclude equipment breakdown so adding this enhancement to your farm policy is a good way to protect your investment in farm equipment.

You can check the limit of coverage (the amount you are insured up to in the event of an equipment breakdown) by checking your policy coverage summary and wordings. In the event that you have a claim, you will need to pay your deductible. However, if the only coverage being used is the Farm Equipment Breakdown coverage, there is no loss of claims-free discount.

Just what exactly is an equipment breakdown? It is defined as physical loss or damage originating within mechanical, electrical, electronic, or boilers and other vessels normally subject to vacuum or internal pressure.

We’ll break down each type below.

Note, examples are just an illustration to show different types of claims. Each claim received by Mutual Fire Insurance is adjusted individually with coverage to be determined based on your unique claim.

Mechanical Equipment Breakdown

When equipment has moving parts that fail to operate, it is considered a mechanical breakdown.

Example

The exhaust fan in the poultry house mechanically seized due to lack of lubrication. An alarm system alerted the operator to the problem and a temporary fan was brought in before losing fowl. Total property damage covered was $3,500 plus an extra expense of $800.

Electrical or Electronic Equipment Breakdown

Electrical Farm Equipment Room

Wiring and fibre optics running through farm equipment can break down due to a power surge or a single phasing event (that’s when the lights flicker or only some lights go out). Another cause for electrical breakdown is an arcing occurrence between wires.

Example

A severe voltage spike damaged the windings in a 50hp feed water pump motor. The motor could not be repaired due to the extensive electrical damage and was replaced. Total property damage covered was $5,575.

Pressure System Equipment Breakdown

Any equipment under pressure that fails to operate due to a rupture, bursting, bulging, implosion, or steam explosion.

Example

The 300hp irrigation pump seized due to low water conditions. Repair parts were obtained and shipped overnight. The costs to the property were $15,025 and an expediting expense of $1,200 was included.

Types of Farm Equipment

Poultry Barn Farm Equipment Chickens

Additional examples of property covered include:

  • Air Conditioning Units
  • Automatic waterers
  • Boiler and Pressure Vessels
  • Circuit breaker panels
  • Compressors
  • Computer Controlled Equipment
  • Computerized feeding systems
  • Computers
  • Conveyors
  • Electrical Systems
  • Generators
  • GPS Equipment
  • Heating and cooling systems
  • Heating Units
  • Irrigation Systems
  • Milking parlors and collection equipment
  • Motors
  • Pumps
  • Refrigeration compressors
  • Refrigeration Units
  • Transformers
  • Well/Water pumps

Limitations

Ultimately, farm equipment is meant to be used. With use comes natural wear and tear to the equipment and all devices have a life expectancy. This wear and tear is not covered through farm equipment breakdown.

Talk with your insurance broker to see if farm equipment breakdown is the right coverage for you.

October 10, 2017

Great BC ShakeOut 2017

Great BC ShakeOut 2017

By | Community, Mutual Fire Insurance | No Comments

3 Things You Didn’t Know About Earthquakes

  1. About 90% of the world’s earthquakes occur in the “Ring of Fire” —  a horseshoe-shaped zone of the Pacific Ocean from the southern tip of South America up to Alaska over to Russia and back down to New Zealand. MFI’s head office sits in Langley, BC near the pacific coast and within the Ring of Fire. 
  2. About 500,000 detectable earthquakes occur in the world each year. 100,000 of those are felt by people and about 100 cause damage.
  3. There is no such thing as “earthquake weather”. Whether it is cold, hot, rainy, or dry, statistics show an equal distribution of earthquakes. If weather does affect earthquakes, we do not yet understand how it works.

Earthquakes happen fairly often in the world but we don’t do enough to prepare for them. It is important to be prepared for what to do in an earthquake and the best way to be prepared is to practice!

Great BC ShakeOut 2017

Every year since 2014, MFI participates in the Great BC Shakeout. This year we’ll be practicing on Thursday October 19 at 10:19am PST. We encourage you to participate too!

Learn more about earthquake preparedness and register your school, work, or home to participate at ShakeOutBC.com

 


Do you need to pack a 72-hour emergency kit?

Here’s a big list of 72 items you need for your emergency kit.

 

October 1, 2017

Introducing New Membership Benefits

Introducing New Membership Benefits

By | Home Insurance, Membership, Mutual Fire Insurance | No Comments

Mutual Fire Insurance Celebrates its 115th Year of Business

Hobby Farm Family

Our history begins with 44 farmers and business owners in the Fraser Valley region. Determined to create a local insurance company, MFI became the first mutual insurance company with its main office in the province and today, we provide solutions for farm, commercial, and home insurance needs from British Columbia to Ontario.

Navigating the economic ups and downs of the last century, MFI persisted to grow into a stable and profitable dual-structured mutual company. Our structure allows you to become a member and enjoy special perks!

Introducing MemberPROTECT™

On October 1, we introduced our enhanced membership program, MemberPROTECT™, with two new benefits for qualifying homes:

All members still enjoy the following benefits:

  • Receive a premium refund (after the first full year of membership), if so declared by the Board of Directors
  • Attend our annual general meetings and any special meetings
  • Vote on resolutions that affect the company
  • Nominate or accept a nomination to become a Board Director

Our success is due to the strong relationships we have with our broker partners. We cater to the needs of our broker family across the country and support them with innovative products. Our company is flexible and we take pride in helping our clients by providing peace of mind solutions.

Contact a broker today and ask about insuring with Mutual Fire Insurance.

September 25, 2017

Bylaw Coverage Explained Simply: How to Protect Yourself from Out of Pocket Expenses

Bylaw Coverage Explained Simply: How to Protect Yourself from Out of Pocket Expenses

By | Home Insurance, Insurance Explained | No Comments

One of the most frustrating things for a policyholder to experience is unexpected costs that can occur in addition to a direct damage loss. When a loss occurs, you expect to pay a deductible and receive full coverage.

We see more and more claims where policyholders become responsible for additional costs related to bylaw coverage. You may be able to prevent this frustration by asking your insurance broker about contingent building bylaw coverage.

What is Contingent Building Bylaw Coverage?

Contingent building bylaw coverage protects you from any increase in the cost of repairing or rebuilding your home after a loss as a result of enforcement of the minimum requirements of any bylaw, regulation, ordinance or law which regulates such repairs.

Simply put, the enhancement protects you by covering additional work to bring the structure up to current building code. It also covers both the demolition and removal of any undamaged portion of the building. Of course, there may be some restrictions, so it is best to talk with your broker to confirm.

It is beneficial to add this coverage to any insurance package for older homes and homes that have undergone renovations.

Updated single family home

City Bylaws Change

Municipalities in both urban and suburban areas change bylaws to protect citizens and buildings from disaster. Why do municipalities change their bylaws?

  • New Safety Standards such as sprinkler systems, carbon monoxide monitors, and flame retardant panels protect people and property.
  • Updated Best Practices such as hard-wired smoke alarms versus traditional battery-operated alarms that increase safety for occupants.
  • Changing Features of cities and towns. For example, the city now requires underground electrical connections to service the house.
  • Homes are Aging. Many Canadians do not live in newly built homes. As homes age and municipalities continue to update and create bylaws to protect people, it affects how much work will need to be done to a home if a loss occurs.

How Bylaw Coverage Protects You

In summary, if a partial loss occurs, the municipality requires that the repairs to a home comply with new bylaws. Those repairs can be costly. You could potentially be out of pocket for those costs because most insurance contracts exclude coverage for losses arising from bylaws affecting repair or reconstruction of a damaged building. As noted above, you may be able to prevent this frustration by talking with your broker about contingent building bylaw coverage.

Mutual Fire Insurance offers a homeowner’s combination package. For one low cost, qualifying policyholders will receive coverage for Guaranteed Replacement Cost, Single Limit, Contingent Building Bylaws, Sewer Backup, and Enhanced Special Limits. Chat with a broker about contingent building bylaw coverage in over 500 offices in cities and towns from British Columbia to Manitoba.

September 6, 2017

The Ultimate List of 72 things You Need in your 72-Hour Emergency Kit

The Ultimate List of 72 things You Need in your 72-Hour Emergency Kit

By | Home Insurance | No Comments

From the Fort McMurray wildfires to floods in Saskatchewan to the BC wildfires to wind storms in Manitoba; extreme weather events harm people in communities across Canada during any season of the year. When weather hits hard, it forces people to leave their homes for safety in other districts and it can also leave them stranded inside their homes with no way out.

Too often, families do not have a kit to sustain them in an emergency. We recommend you pack an emergency kit because chances are, you will need it one day.

Whether you need to flee your home at a moment’s notice or are unable to leave your home at all, we’ve got you covered with the ultimate list of 72 things you need to pack in your 72-hour emergency preparedness kit. It will serve you in most emergency situations.

Emergency Kit Bag

Food

Make sure you have enough food for each person in your household to eat for three days. Consider any food allergies and dietary restrictions when packing your meals.

  1. Canned food that can be opened and eaten without cooking
  2. Dried food
  3. Energy and protein bars
  4. Manual can opener
  5. Coffee and Tea
  6. Utensils
  7. Plates
  8. Cups
  9. Resealable plastic bags

Water

Each person requires about 4L/1Gal per person per day for drinking and washing.

  1. Bottled water in large and small bottles
  2. Lifestraw or other water purifying device
  3. Water purifying tablets

Warmth

If the electricity is out, you will need a way to stay warm. Have at least two ways to start a fire and include warm clothes for each person.

  1. Waterproof matches
  2. Lighter
  3. Long-burning candles
  4. Disposable hand warmers
  5. Blanket or sleeping bag
  6. Emergency poncho
  7. One extra set of clothes per person

Shelter

Evacuating a neighbourhood or town to another location might mean there are no hotels or rooms to rent.

  1. Pop up tent
  2. Tarp
  3. 15m/50ft of rope
  4. Bungee cords
  5. Work gloves
  6. Pocket Knife
  7. Multitool
  8. Multibit screwdriver
  9. Wrench
  10. Hammer

Safety

Be able to find your way without GPS and ensure you can signal emergency crews if necessary.

  1. Wind up or battery powered flashlight for each person
  2. Wind up or battery powered radio
  3. Extra batteries
  4. $100 cash in small bills and change
  5. Whistle
  6. Duct tape
  7. Zip ties
  8. Paper map
  9. Compass
  10. Road flares
  11. Light stick
  12. Cellphone charger

Health

Make sure you can tend to injuries and are prepared with essential medications and sanitation.

  1. First aid kit
  2. Extra pair of glasses or contacts
  3. Record of vaccinations, surgeries, medical history
  4. List of allergies for each person
  5. Health insurance information
  6. Prescription medications
  7. Non-prescription medication such as pain relievers and antihistamines
  8. Hand sanitizer
  9. Moist towelette
  10. Medicine dropper
  11. Toiletries
  12. Chap stick
  13. Rubber gloves
  14. Toilet paper
  15. Garbage bags
  16. Twist ties
  17. Bucket and toilet seat
  18. Disinfectant or bleach
  19. Dust mask

Important Documents

Keep these documents in a waterproof bag to ensure they are not damaged in storage.

  1. Copy of your family emergency plan
  2. List of emergency contacts and phone numbers
  3. Copy of home insurance policy
  4. Insurance company claims phone number
  5. Identification
  6. Bank records
  7. Extra keys for your car and home

Stress Relief

Distract your kids and get your mind off the emergency at hand by playing a few games.

  1. Book
  2. Deck of cards
  3. Games
  4. Puzzles
  5. Pen/Pencil and notepad

Bonus Item

Pack family photos in your emergency kit. It is comforting for kids (and adults) to see the faces of friends and family in an emergency

Personalize Your Emergency Kit

Think about your unique needs and make sure that your emergency kit is sufficient for your family. Consider the elderly, people with disabilities and special needs, young children, and people with dietary restrictions. If you were stuck for 72-hours, the bag should satisfy the basic needs for each member of your household.

Put it All Together

Now that you have all the essential items for your emergency kit, you need a way to store it and a place to put it. Answers to those questions will depend on your personal preference and where you live but remember, you may need to grab the kit and leave with short notice.

Items for Emergency Kit Preparedness

Many people choose to pack their kit into backpacks or bags that are easily carried. Backpacks can also be packed heavier or lighter so each person in your family is able to carry something. An alternative is to stock your kit in plastic storage containers. They store easily, can be staked on a rolling cart, and can be waterproof.

If you live in a house, you may store your kit in an outbuilding like a shed or garage. Or store it inside your home near the front entry or hall closet. Those living in a condo have fewer options for storage. A closet, storage room or even the trunk of your car are good spots for your emergency kit.

With your emergency kit packed and stored, you and your family are ready for and emergency. Check your bag at least once a year to rotate food items and check expiry dates for important documents and medications.

Emergency Kit Names

If “Emergency Kit” doesn’t strike you as an exciting name. Feel free to use one of these. Our favourite is #3.

  • Go Bag
  • Bug Out Bag
  • Just-in-Case Case
  • Get Out Of Dodge Bag (GOOD Bag)
August 3, 2017

Coming Home After a Wildfire Evacuation Order is Rescinded

Coming Home After a Wildfire Evacuation Order is Rescinded

By | Home Insurance, Mutual Fire Insurance | No Comments

Several wildfires in British Columbia’s Central Interior are under control thanks to the determined efforts of first responders and volunteers. Mutual Fire Insurance is monitoring the situation and our dedicated claims representatives are readily available in person, by email, and on the phone to communicate with families evacuated by the fires.

As evacuation orders are rescinded in some areas, we wish residents a safe return on their journey home. Check the Drive BC website to plan your route. Drive with care and follow all recommended travel routes.

Areas of the province with recent downgraded Evacuation Orders include:

  • Homes along Summer’s Creek Rd. in Princeton
  • The City of Williams Lake
  • Sugarcane
  • 150 Mile House
  • Fox Mountain
  • Esler
  • Pine Valley
  • Springhouse
  • Kleena Kleene area
  • Cache Creek North (Electoral Area “I”)
  • East of Clinton partial
  • Hihium Lake (Electoral Area “E”) partial
  • Loon Lake partial
  • Cache Creek North (Electoral Area “E”)
  • Boston Flats Mobile Home Park
  • Back Valley Road area east of Cache Creek partial
  • Highway 20 west of Fraser River
  • Louis Estates properties
  • Indian Reserve #1 Shorelines of Okanagan Lake

Evacuation updates are made regularly on the Emergency Info BC website. Remember that many of these areas remain on Evacuation Alert, so it is important to restock your emergency kit with water, first aid, medications, and supplies in case an Evacuation Order is issued again.

I’m Home, What’s Next?

Whether you were gone for a few days or a few weeks, returning home can be a startling experience. Your surroundings may look very different from when you left. If your home is safe to enter, proceed inside and remember these tips to ensure a smooth claims process.

Spoilage

Be cautious with food stored during your time away. Damage to food occurs from unsafe temperatures, smoke, ash, fire retardant, and loss of power. Discard food that is spoiled, as well as food that has been stored in a refrigerator or freezer that has lost power, even if the power has since been restored. Throw out all food that has spoiled. Keeping an inventory of what was lost will help you make a claim for the cost of the food on your home insurance policy.

Smoke Damage

Even though you closed windows and doors when you left, your home may have smoke damage. Our claims representatives can help answer any questions you have.

Fire Retardant

The red fire retardant used by first responders may be on top of your home, shed, or detached outbuildings. It can be removed easily with water. If the fire retardant is dry, scrubbing, and even power washing, may be required. If not, this cleaning can be covered by your home insurance policy.

Contact Claims Representatives

Some residents may be facing a home that has greater damage from fire. If your home is not safe to enter, or is no longer standing, please contact us immediately for assistance.

We encourage you to call our claims line for help when you return to your home.

  • 604.881.1250 from Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 4:30pm.
  • 855.535.0554 outside of the above hours.

You may also email us directly at claimsreporting@mutualfirebc.com