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Summer swimming pool safety and homeowners insurance in Lutherville Timonium MDRegardless of our swimming abilities, many of us beat the heat in our backyard swimming pool as summer temperatures soar.  It seems that taking advantage of a residential swimming pool is more popular than ever before. In fact,  over seven million swimming pools and five million hot tubs are estimated to be in residential or public use in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But all swimming pools – from the simplest inflatable wading pool to the most elaborate luxury in-ground variety – can present a danger, especially to children. Between 2005 and 2014, fatal, unintentional drownings in the U.S. averaged over 3500 annually. More than one out of five drowning victims was reported to be 14 years old or under.

The following safety rules will prevent accidents and decrease your potential liability exposure:

  • Empty wading pools completely after each use, and always store them upside-down to avoid collection of rain water. 
  • Install a fence at least 4 feet high around the entire pool area with a gate that latches and locks.  Never leave furniture or other items close enough to the fence to allow children to climb over.  Pool alarms and safety covers add extra protection. 
  • The powerful suction of a swimming pool drain can trap a child under water.  Cover your pool drain with a safety guard, tie up long hair before swimming, and teach children to stay away from drains and filters.  In particular, teach them never to sit on a pool drain. 
  • Post emergency numbers and CPR instructions in the pool area. Store a first aid kit, a cordless water-resistant phone, reaching poles and ring buoys near the pool area to be used in case of emergency; and do not allow children to play with these items. 
  • Consider having older teens and adults take a course in basic first aid and CPR, and enroll your family’s non-swimmers in swimming lessons with a certified instructor.  Anyone who is not a good swimmer should wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life vest while in your pool. 
  • Adults should not swim alone, and children should never swim without an adult present and watching them constantly. 
  • Keep the pool area clear of glass items, electrical devices (radios, CD players, etc.), and obstacles that could cause a fall or other injury.

Homeowners Insurance and Pool Liability Issues

If you are planning to install a pool at your residence, it is important to consider the insurance implications as well as the safety issues.  The Insurance Information Institute recommends the following:

  • Installing a pool will also increase your insurance liability risk.  So contact your insurance agent to be sure your homeowners policy provides enough additional liability coverage.  If your pool will be costly, this may mean you will have to increase your homeowners insurance coverage and perhaps add umbrella insurance to provide extra liability above what your homeowners policy provides for your home. Of course, your home insurance must also cover the cost of replacing your pool and any pool-related items like deck furniture, should a storm or other disaster destroy or damage it. 
  • Contact your town or municipality since the definition of a pool which drives local building codes and safety standards will vary from town to town. You will want to have this information before you purchase the pool. 

Here at our Lutherville / Timonium, MD agency, our highly experienced William M. Sparks Insurance agents are always glad to speak with you about any insurance needs. Before you decide on a pool for your backyard, you owe it to yourself to contact us to be sure you have optimum insurance coverage. We can answer your questions, refer you to other resources, offer a no-obligation policy review and discuss your options.

Sunday, 23 June 2019 17:41

Happy New Year to all Homeowners from William M. Sparks Insurance Agency in Lutherville Timonium MarylandImproving on the maintenance of your home likely did not make your list of top ten New Year’s Resolutions this year, but perhaps it should have.

Keeping your home secure and fit is just as important as keeping yourself in shape. Each has its own set of consequences if not done regularly, and each must be done year-round and changes with the seasons. Not buying it? Then consider this: time and effort spent taking care of your home can be measured in dollars and cents when you realize that homeowners insurance claims could be denied if an insurer determines that the loss could have been avoided through proper maintenance. That is not to mention keeping it secure for your family. So just what home related  tasks should you add to your resolutions this year?

READ MORE below to see the best resolutions to start with...

Friday, 05 January 2018 18:30

If you’re in the market for a home, then you’re certainly not alone since almost half of all home sales happen between April and June each year. That is why it’s known as the “homebuying season.”

If you’re a typical home buyer, you’ll have a lot of questions – from costs, fees and taxes to mortgage qualification. When you find the house that’s right for you, you’ll also need to think about homeowners insurance and how it will impact your ability to make an offer on that dream home.

View the video below to find out what insurance questions you’ll need to ask…

Feel free to contact any of our very capable and experienced agents at the William M. Sparks Insurance Agency here in Lutherville/Timonium, MD to discuss your insurance questions.  We can help you review your current insurance policy and explore your options to be sure you have the best coverage and protection according to your circumstances.


 

Tuesday, 04 April 2017 17:49

Be aware when using smart technology on your home network to avoid hacker invading.Are you doing all you can to keep hackers out of your house?

We all know that smart appliances like televisions, refrigerators, thermostats and the many other systems that are controlled from our smart phones offer many benefits to our busy lives. But they also present some very real risks if not managed. As the number of us using home networks for these applications rises, so does the risk of cyber attacks. Most of these devices carry easily-hacked default codes and password which, when used right out-of-the-box, can expose your IP address to the internet where hackers can find it.

What does a cyber invasion look like?

Once they have access, these thieves will breach your home network security. If this happens, they can use your personal and financial information. Moreover, they can hijack your devices and extort high-dollar ransoms from you for computer files held hostage. They can even control your appliances – perhaps setting the temperature all the way up via your smart thermostat on the hottest day of the year and not releasing it until you pay the ransom. Often however, these criminals will continue to use your network for their own purposes without you even knowing it.

Can you avoid these cyber attacks?

There are steps you can take and habits you can adopt to help keep your home network safe from hackers. Here are tips from the experts to secure your devices. Here are 10 tips to help homeowners keep their home systems safe:

Software Updates: don’t ignore the latest updates and security patches that become available for phones, appliances and other electronics. Often, they include “fixes” for security vulnerabilities that have been discovered since the device was sold.

Password Authentication: Whenever possible, take advantage of two-factor authentication offered by many financial institutions. A code (usually only valid for a matter of minutes) is sent via a separate text or e-mail to be used along with a password during log-in. If a hacker is monitoring your device, they will not have access to the separate code and thus cannot gain access to the account you are opening.

Network Security: Treat your home network as you would your business office network. Prevent unauthorized access by changing default settings, user names and passwords when devices are installed and periodically thereafter. When installing new devices, use a firewall rather than a link through another device. Take the time to see that your passwords are complex – not easily guessed.

Bluetooth Device: If your network has any vulnerability, hackers can exploit your Bluetooth function to listen in or gain access to other connected devices. Turn off your Bluetooth device when not in use.

Financial Data: consider isolating your financial transactions such as online banking on a single computer that is not used for any other online activities including social media and even e-mail.

Smartphone Security: Because most other devices and appliances on a smart home network are typically accessed through your smartphone, gaining access to your smartphone is the goal of a hacker. Be sure to password-protect your smartphone using a password of letters, symbols and numbers. Better still, if your phone offers fingerprint access, strongly consider it.

App Purchases: Not all apps are created to be safe. Your best chance to get safe apps is to purchase them through verified app stores such as Google where the apps are tested for flaws and malicious code. Downloading apps from an unverified third party or without knowing that the app’s privacy policy shows how your information will be handled could allow access for hackers.

Smart Device Purchase: When you purchase a new smart device for your home network, be sure that it is still in its original packaging to avoid tampering. Hackers have been known to purchase a device, infect it with malicious code, return it to the retailer and then wait for an unassuming shopper to purchase and install it.

Safely Disposing of Smart Devices: If you are getting rid of a smart device, be sure to remove any data and reset back to factory default settings to prevent someone else from gaining access to your network through the device later.

In short, be aware and be prepared. Know that, when you deploy smart technology, there are risks. Regard your smart devices the same as you would your phone or computer.

Homeowners Insurance Tip

Take the time to contact your insurance agent to check your homeowners and identity theft coverage before you find you need it. You could find that your coverage includes assistance in identity recovery and/or other forensic expert assistance in the event you do suffer a breach.

Feel free to contact any of our very capable and experienced agents at the William M. Sparks Insurance Agency here in Lutherville/Timonium MD to discuss your home insurance.  We can help you review your current insurance policy and explore your options to be sure you have the best coverage and protection according to your circumstances.


 

Wednesday, 12 October 2016 21:39

 

Regardless of our swimming abilities, many of us beat the heat in our backyard swimming pool as summer temperatures soar.  It seems that taking advantage of a residential swimming pool is more popular than ever before. In fact,  well over 8 million  U. S. households owni a pool, according to the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals. 

But all swimming pools – from the simplest inflatable wading pool to the most elaborate luxury in-ground variety – can present a danger, especially to children.

Swimming Pool Safety Tips

The following safety rules will prevent accidents and decrease your potential liability exposure:

  • Empty wading pools completely after each use, and always store them upside-down to avoid collection of rain water. 
  • Install a fence at least 4 feet high around the entire pool area with a gate that latches and locks.  Never leave furniture or other items close enough to the fence to allow children to climb over.  Pool alarms and safety covers add extra protection. 
  • The powerful suction of a pool drain can trap a child under water.  Cover your drain with a safety guard, tie up long hair before swimming, and teach children to stay away from drains and filters.  In particular, teach them never to sit on a pool drain. 
  • Post emergency numbers and CPR instructions in the pool area. Store a first aid kit, a cordless water-resistant phone, reaching poles and ring buoys near the pool area to be used in case of emergency; and do not allow children to play with these items. 
  • Consider having older teens and adults take a course in basic first aid and CPR, and enroll your family’s non-swimmers in swimming lessons with a certified instructor.  Anyone who is not a good swimmer should wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life vest while in your pool. 
  • Adults should not swim alone, and children should never swim without an adult present and watching them constantly. 
  • Keep the pool area clear of glass items, electrical devices (radios, CD players, etc.), and obstacles that could cause a fall or other injury.

Insurance and Liability Issues

If you are planning to install a pool at your residence, it is important to consider the insurance implications as well as the safety issues.  The Insurance Institute recommends the following:

  • Installing a pool will also increase your insurance liability risk.  So contact your insurance agent to be sure your homeowners policy provides enough additional liability coverage.  If your pool will be costly, this may mean you will have to increase your coverage to protect your pool, should a storm or other disaster destroy or damage it. 
  • Contact your town or municipality since the definition of a pool which drives local building codes and safety standards will vary from town to town. You will want to have this information before you purchase the pool. 
Saturday, 16 October 2010 16:53
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