Glascock-Meenan Insurance

Loss prevention tips for vacant buildings

When properties are left vacant or are unoccupied, there are proactive steps that should be taken to help prevent losses due to heating or electrical system malfunctions, water damage, vandalism or other causes.

Heating/electrical system

  • Before the winter months, hire a contractor to inspect the heating system to ensure it is working properly to reduce any potential for freezing.
  • If using LP gas, propane gas or oil heat, check the fuel level in the tank periodically to ensure it does not run out of fuel.
  • Check the building regularly (at least once a week) to ensure the heating system is operating properly.
  • If the heating system is to remain in service, be sure the electric power is not shut off since this will shut down the heating system. Because the electrical service will remain on, inspect the main electrical panel, wiring and outlets. Repair or replace any defective or deficient items.
  • If the building is not to be heated, turn off the fuel at the main shut-off valve to reduce the potential for malfunction and explosion. Check the valve periodically to ensure it is working properly. If the electrical system is to be shut off, it should be shut off at the main circuit breaker and the breaker locked open.
  • A chimney service should inspect and clean any chimneys to ensure they are free from obstructions, such as nesting birds. Install chimney guard screencaps to help prevent infestation.

Water damage

  • If the heating system is a hot water system and is to be turned off completely, drain the plumbing system (or properly winterize it) to prevent damage from freezing.
  • If the hot water heating system and/or water pipes will not be drained, install a waterflow sensor and low-temperature sensor to be monitored by the alarm system. Keep the thermostat at a consistent temperature throughout the winter months.
  • If the water will not be turned off insulate the water lines that run along exterior walls so that the water supply will be less likely to freeze. If heat tape is used on piping, follow the manufacturer’s instructions closely to prevent fires. Open cabinet doors to allow heat from the room to get into concealed spaces. Drain and shut off outdoor water faucets to prevent vandalism and freezing damage. In residential structures shut off dishwasher and washing machine hoses to prevent serious water damage losses Read More

Stop Losing Money: 3 Risks to Your Business Inventory

For many small businesses (especially retailers), inventory is a large portion of working capital investment and the company’s equity. Inventory losses (even minor ones) can have a great impact on both the value of the company and its profitability. It is important for small business owners to recognize what risks their inventory faces and develop ways to minimize losses.

Let’s look at four risks to small business inventory and what might be done to manage them.

Inventory Shrinkage
Inventory shrinkage occurs when the product amounts on hand don’t measure up to the amount that an inventory sheet says should be there. This can occur from poor record keeping, inaccurate physical counts, or theft.

Here are tactics small businesses use to reduce shrinkage:

  • Limit access to areas where inventory is stored.
  • Install security cameras in warehouses or storage areas.
  • Designate specific employees to receive all incoming inventory. Develop a system for receiving that requires two more people to verify goods received.
  • Recheck purchase orders, invoices, shipping receipts and signed packing lists before they are filed.
  • Install a point-of-sale system to track outgoing inventory.
  • Have all invoices verified twice against order sheets. Choose appropriate shelving that will allow easy access for stocking, counting, rotating stock and cleaning. Organize the stock area to allow for clear observation and easy movement.
  • Run a full inventory on a yearly basis, at a minimum. Account for discrepancies that are discovered.

Loss of Perishables
If you have a business that offers food service (such as a restaurant, market, hotel/motel, senior living facility, or even a golf course with a snack bar), spoilage can lead to big losses in a short time. Improper inventory management and handling of stock are the chief causes of these losses. Read more

​How to Practice Electrical Safety During Flooding

On average, more deaths occur in the U.S. each year from flooding than from any other type of natural disaster. While the majority of these involve vehicles being swept away, some are due to electrocutions. As water is a natural conductor, the risk of an electrical shock is heightened any time water and electricity are in close proximity. This makes the threat of electrocution during periods of flooding extremely high.

Before the Flood
If you live in an area where there is a possibility that flooding might occur, there are ways to minimize your risk long before bad weather shows up. Ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) electrical outlets have been required for bathrooms for years.  But they can be used throughout a home with little to no alteration. GFCI outlets have a built-in circuit breaker that will automatically trip if the plug becomes grounded. This safety feature cuts off the flow of electricity.

When the threat of flooding is imminent, it is a good idea to turn off the power in your home while it is still dry. How should you turn off power at the electrical panel box? The panel box has circuit breakers for each circuit as well as a main shut-off switch. You should first flip each individual circuit breaker one at a time and then turn off the main circuit breaker.

If your breaker box is located outside or in a basement that might already be holding water, don’t attempt to turn off the power yourself. Contact your utility company and ask them to kill the power at the meter.
Until that can be accomplished, unplug all electrical devices. If possible, move them to higher locations in the house so they don’t become submerged or even by touched by water. Read more

Post COVID-19: Preparing Your Small Business to Reopen

Many small businesses have been hard hit by COVID-19. It’s not clear yet how long the pandemic will last, but when it passes, you’ll want to be ready for that much-awaited turn of the economic tide. Here are some actions you can take now to be prepared to reset and restart your business in the post-COVID world.

Review Customer Lists

Customer lists are invaluable for many businesses. They make repeat business possible, but only if they’re up-to-date. Make sure your lists have the business-critical information you need for each of your customers, including the customer’s name, address, mobile number and email address, and verify the accuracy of that information. Also eliminate duplicate records which could otherwise lead to duplicate marketing efforts on your part and impair your ability to service your customers effectively.

This might also be a good time to check in with your customers. Ask about their future needs and see if you can help them out in any way.

Connect With Suppliers

As you’re restarting operations, you’ll need suppliers that are ready, too. Check with your current vendors to determine their availability in the weeks and months ahead. Some may not reopen at the same time you do. Others may be unable to guarantee timely delivery of the products or services you require. Stay in touch and up-to-date while also preparing for supply chain contingencies. Reach out to new vendors, as primary suppliers may be unavailable. Read more

Prevent Construction Equipment Theft

Construction equipment theft can be a big financial hit for a business, with long-lasting repercussions like loss of productivity, inability to complete contracts on time, and loss of income. Recovery efforts can be time consuming, expensive, and may not even be successful, resulting in potentially further financial impact when new equipment must be purchased. Prevention can be a low-cost strategy, and by following the tips below, criminals may be deterred from stealing expensive machines.

Secure Equipment Daily
Equipment that must stay on site can be immobilized at the end of the day by anchoring it with chains, removing the battery, and lowering blades and buckets. Park large machines in a circle, with smaller portable equipment in the middle, creating a barrier to protect the smaller items. Never hide keys inside the machine – they should be stored in a locked location on-site, or taken off-site. Light towers can also be an effective way to ward off intruders, since they draw attention to the equipment and make it easier to spot unusual activity.

Customize Your Equipment
If possible, make company equipment stand out with custom modifications such as a decal of the logo, a unique paint job, or custom stamped ID number. Equipment that is easily recognizable or that stands out to passersby will help to deter thieves and help with recovery if it is stolen.

Protect Equipment in Transit
Transporting equipment from one location to another presents an opportunity for theft, particularly if there is an overnight stop in an unsecure location. Plan routes carefully, and if an overnight is unavoidable, find a secure place to store the equipment. Additionally, keep the fuel levels at a minimum during transport, lock the unit to the transport platform, and remove the keys to further deter theft. Track the movements of equipment between job sites to ensure that it arrives at the location as planned. Devices like GPS trackers come with a cost, but can be worth the investment in the long run.

Keep an Equipment Inventory
Keep a detailed inventory of equipment, including the year, manufacturer, model, serial number, and any unique features of each machine. Take photos of machines from multiple angles and keep prints in the inventory catalog. Be sure to register every unit on a national database used by law enforcement, such as the National Equipment Register (NER), which may help in the recovery of stolen items. If equipment is discovered missing, report it as soon as possible to law enforcement – the sooner it is reported, the more likely it is that the machinery will be found.    Read More

Preparing Your Property for Employees, Tenants and Patrons During and After the COVID-19 Pandemic

As you begin to reopen or reestablish your business during the COVID-19 pandemic, you need to ensure your property is safe and functional for employees, tenants and patrons. Proper cleaning and disinfection procedures can help create a safe environment, provided you apply new considerations to established protocols. As you are developing overall COVID-19 response efforts, work to help reduce risk through PATH – Plan, Act, Train, Health. These core principles can help you to prepare your business to operate safely in today’s changing environment.

Review Pandemic (COVID-19) Protocols

It is important to prepare for potential future outbreaks of the virus. Also, tenants, employees or patrons may experience trepidation about being exposed to the virus while at your facility and may have questions you need to address. Be sure to create and communicate new policies and procedures related to the COVID-19 pandemic in a clear and timely manner.

Policies and procedures should identify the steps you are taking to address any potential spread of the virus. This should help ease the concerns of your tenants, employees and patrons and ensure their compliance with new guidelines.

Limiting Third-Parties and Building Capacity

Consider limiting visitors, subcontractors or vendors from coming to your site; however, if it is necessary for them to visit in person, be sure to inform them of any new requirements ahead of time. Also consider limiting building capacity in alignment with state and local public health guidance. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) publication Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 may be helpful in supporting the review and development of your protocols. Read More

Cleaning and Disinfecting During and After a Pandemic

*This document is intended for facilities outside the health care industry.

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial to review and update policies for cleaning and disinfecting your facility, equipment and vehicles. It is recommended that you increase the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces, which may include door pushes, handles, touchpads, elevator buttons, faucets, sinks and electronic devices, as well as common areas, such as entryways, lobbies, hallways and restrooms. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers steps for properly cleaning and disinfecting facilities.

If infected persons have been in your facility, the CDC provides additional considerations:

  • Close off areas visited by the infected persons. Wait 24 hours (or as long as practical) before cleaning and disinfecting.
  • Cleaning staff should clean and disinfect all areas and high-touch surfaces.
  • Additional cleaning/disinfecting may not be necessary if more than seven days have passed since the infected persons have visited or used your facility or vehicles.

How to Clean and Disinfect

Hard (Non-porous) Surfaces

Non-porous surfaces should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.

  • The EPA provides a list of disinfectants for use against SARS-CoV-2, commonly known as coronavirus, the virus that causes COVID-19. This list outlines appropriate contact times (amount of time surface should be visibly wet) and surface types on which approved disinfectants may be used.
  • Note that new cleaning products should be used as instructed, with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves. Make sure employees are properly educated on how to safely remove and dispose of PPE.
  • Diluted household bleach solutions can be used if appropriate for the surface. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application, ensuring a contact time of at least one minute and allowing proper ventilation during and after application. Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date and never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser as the mixture can create hazardous vapors. Read More

What to Do After the Storm

Whether you are a homeowner or business owner, hurricanes can leave you vulnerable to major losses, since most home and business insurance policies don’t extend to flooding damage from certain storm circumstances. Here are some steps you can take in order to recover from these natural disasters in the safest, most efficient way possible.

Documentation is key throughout the cleanup and repair process after a storm.

Call Your Insurance Agent
Before taking any steps to fix the damage, contact your local independent agent; they are there to help you understand exactly what you are up against. They can walk you through your insurance policy, help you file a claim, and put you in contact with resources for cleanup and recovery.Cleanup & Repair
It is recommended that you contact the professionals before initially entering the damaged property. Once they thoroughly inspect the home or business and deem it safe to enter, you will be able to assess the damage yourself. When beginning repairs, health needs to be your number one priority. For cleaning and repairs that you can perform on your own, wear gloves and take caution in case of mold or bacteria. In addition, you may need to hire a contractor or work with restoration or cleanup services to handle more severe damage. Read More

5 Key Questions To Ask Before Hiring A Home Inspector

Home buying is nothing if not a process. From applying for a mortgage to perusing the Internet and attending open houses, each aspect gets you one step closer to homeownership.

But perhaps the most important component along the way is home inspection. More than three quarters of buyers have had a home inspection performed prior to purchasing one, according to survey data from the National Association of Realtors. In fact, many lenders require that one be done once a mortgage has been approved.

Unfortunately, home inspections aren’t all built the same. There are certain requirements that a residence needs to pass before it can be deemed safe to live in, but given human mistakes, some inspections are more rigorous than others.

The following are important questions to ask to ensure that the home inspection professional you choose is both reliable and meticulous.

1. What are your qualifications?
If there’s anything that’s the most crucial to home inspection, experience has to be it. Granted, newly minted inspectors have to start somewhere, but at the very least, they should be able to demonstrate that they have the bona fides needed to perform a rigorous analysis of your prospective home’s features. Feel free to ask your inspector how long they’ve been practicing and where their licensing is from.

2. What will the inspection process include?
Your inspection professional should be open with you about just what they’re looking for to ensure that your soon-to-be property – provided everything checks out – is up to snuff. On their checklist should be features like the home’s heating and cooling systems, the condition of the roof, foundation, plumbing and electrical systems. The passing or failing of each feature can make or break when or whether you should close on the house by signing on the dotted line. Read More

How to Keep Rodents from Entering Your Home

With more than 1500 species of rodents cataloged, rodents comprise more than two-thirds of all the mammals on earth. The vast majority of rodents,  though, do not hibernate.

Mice, rats and tree squirrels are three common pests that do not hibernate. These rodents nest and gnaw and will dig their way into almost any soft material, like insulation or upholstery, which will supply a warm comfortable environment for their young. This can be destructive to your house and belongings.

If not prevented, these animals can cause damage to your home. This means that rodents, once inside your home, could attack your joist, beams, pipes and wiring in order to stay alive. This can, over time, cause severe structural damage. Rodents gnawing on pipes and wiring can also lead to flooding and fires.

How to prevent damage
There are only two ways of preventing or minimizing the damage that rodents can cause to your home. The first way is to prevent gaining entry. The second is to eliminate rodents if they have already found their way inside. Read more

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