Protect Your Boat This Winter

Protect Your Boat This Winter

As the weather cools down in Knoxville and the surrounding areas, the opportunities to take your boat out on the water will be few and far between if at all. If you haven’t already, you’ll want to make sure that you prepare it for the winter season the right way so that it will still be in excellent shape next year. 

There are two ways to ensure that your boat is well protected. Winterize your boat and check on the type of insurance you have. We at Bob Johnson Insurance are here to help you get the coverage you need so that your craft is always ready for anything. 

What Kind of Insurance Do You Need?

Typically speaking, small boats that don’t have a lot of power can be covered by your current homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy. However, larger and faster crafts must have their own plan, so be sure to check with us to ensure that you have the right coverage. 

During the winter months, you may think that insurance won’t be necessary. After all, the boat’s out of the water, so what’s the worst that could happen? Well, that depends. The fact is that your ship can still get damaged, vandalized, or stolen when it’s not in the water. Therefore, having watercraft insurance all year long is always a good idea. 

Also, considering that Knoxville, TN doesn’t have the harshest of winters, you may be able to enjoy some decent time on the water during the offseason, which is where full coverage will come in handy. 

Optional Boat Insurance Options

Although protecting your craft itself is crucial, you have to take a more comprehensive approach when drafting the right insurance policy. These options are good to consider regardless of the season.

  • If your boat is getting old, you may be better off with a cash-value policy instead of an agreed value one. 
  • Consider any equipment that you may have on the boat. Do you keep fishing gear stored on there during the off-season? What about any electronics, like fish finders?
  • Not everyone who has a boat is insured, so it’s usually a good idea to get uninsured boater coverage and possibly umbrella protection, which helps reduce your liability if you’re ever involved in a collision or accident on the water. 

When talking with your insurance agent, keep in mind that there may be ways to get discounts on your policy. For example, taking a boating safety course can help reduce your premiums, so ask what options are available. In addition, your agent can advise you of other insurance options that you might want to know about

Winterizing Your Boat

While getting the right insurance coverage is essential, it’s not the only thing you should be doing to get your boat ready for the season. Winterizing your craft is also crucial so that it can survive the colder weather without any problems. Here are some tips to get started. 

Flush the Engine – Since the motor won’t be used during the winter, you want to clean it out and drain fuel from the carburetor. Doing this will help prevent buildup and ensure that everything stays pristine. Also, be sure to lubricate systems like your pistons and cylinders. 

Stern Drive – Keeping your boat clean and free of any plant life or barnacles will help keep the stern in good condition over the winter. Also, drain the gear case and clean it thoroughly. 

Fuel – Keeping your fuel tanks full for the season will avoid condensation. Be sure to add fuel stabilizers though to ensure that it stays fresh until Spring. 

Fresh Water System – As the temperature drops, the water in your boat can freeze and cause damage. To prevent this, flush the system and fill it with non-toxic antifreeze. 

Interior – Storing some items on your craft during winter can be convenient, but don’t store anything too valuable, especially if you don’t check the inside very often. 

Boat Cover – Using a cover to protect your boat from harmful UV rays and other winter weather will ensure that it’s ready to go next season. 

Keeping your boat in excellent condition this winter is much easier than it looks. By being prepared ahead of time, you can make this process much more comfortable, thus guaranteeing you won’t experience any problems when you back into the water. 

If you have any questions about boater’s insurance, be sure to give Bob Johnson Insurance a call at 800-624-3339 or click here to contact us.

Seasonal Household Safety Tips

Seasonal Household Safety Tips

When the weather changes, so do our habits. Now, instead of spending time lounging in the sun and trying to stay cool from the Tennessee heat, we have to start bundling up and preparing for colder nights and brisk fall days. 

While the season brings plenty of fun activities (like football games), it can also bring some unexpected hazards. At Bob Johnson Insurance, we want to make sure that you’re prepared for anything this fall, which is why we’re offering some household safety tips this year. 

Check and Inspect Your Heating Sources

Since Knoxville isn’t known for being chilly during the spring and summer, your heater and fireplace are not going to get much use during the warmer months. However, being inactive for so long can cause problems if you’re not careful. 

So, with that in mind, you want to make sure that you inspect all of your heating sources before you use them. Fireplaces can collect flammable debris, and the chimney could become a massive fire hazard. 

Space heaters can pose a threat if they’re old and don’t have modern safety precautions. Your furnace can also be a hazard if it hasn’t been inspected in months. 

Keep Your Home Fire Resistant

Throwing some logs in the fireplace or lighting candles can make the chilly autumn nights more accommodating, but you want to be sure that you’re not putting yourself or your family at risk. 

When lighting any fires in your home, make sure to check the surrounding area for anything flammable. Keep candles away from the walls, and don’t let them burn all night while you sleep. Even a smoldering fire in the fireplace can emit sparks, so extinguish all flames before heading to bed. 

Pay Attention Outside

The fall season is time to bring out the holiday decorations, as well as prepare your plants for winter. Exercise caution when climbing up on the roof, cleaning your gutters, or pruning leaves. Falls and other accidents can happen fast, so you have to stay vigilant at all times. 

Also, keep in mind that the ground can get slippery as the weather changes. Rains and cold temperatures can create hazards, which is why you want to wear quality shoes with sufficient grip whenever you’re outdoors. 

Be Prepared in Case You Need to Use Your Insurance

Following these safety tips will ensure that your holiday season only creates fond memories for you and your family.   Our hope is that your holiday season is filled with family fun and making new memories. It’s good to be prepared just in case something happens that involves your insurance.  Give us a call at 800-624-3339 or click here to contact us. It only takes a few minutes to check your policies to ensure your coverage is adequate.

Be Prepared for Common Winter Vehicle Insurance Claims

Preparing for Winter

As you can imagine, icy roads lead to a spike in auto insurance claims. Here are the ones to watch out for the most.

Collisions

Even if you’re driving carefully and diligently, someone else could veer off due to ice and slam into you. Depending on the road conditions, you could wind up with a minor fender bender or a severely damaged vehicle.

Tree Damage

Branches don’t just fall onto roofs. If your car is parked under a tree and it collapses, then you’re looking at some significant damage and repair.

Pothole Damage

Winter weather can lead to a lot of problems with the roads, which usually take the form of potholes. In some cases, these can be quite large and deep, which means that they could damage your suspension or axles if you’re not careful.

Are You Covered?

Hopefully, you will not experience any of these circumstances. However, all kinds of damages can occur during extreme weather.  Is your coverage sufficient?  For example, if you had to abandon your car due to severe ice and snow and it was towed, will your insurance cover it? Usually, you’re on your own in that case, but some cities will waive fees due to extenuating circumstances.

Don’t be caught unprepared.  Let us help you with an insurance review.  It’s easy and provides great peace of mind.  Give us a call at 865-922-3111 or click here to contact BJI.

 


Preparing For Winter Series

Preparing Your Vehicle for Winter

Preparing for Winter

Depending on the kind of car you drive, winter weather can be a hassle for several reasons. First, the roads are going to be tough to traverse, with black ice and snow causing you to skid and slide all over the place.

Second, if your car is exposed to the elements, it may get damaged in the process. In many cases, your battery will die from the cold temperatures. In extreme cases, some of the fluids in your engine could freeze, or the whole engine block could crack.

So, with that in mind, here are some ways to keep your car in good shape this winter.

Prepare a Winter Supply Case

If you live somewhere that gets a lot of snow, you never know if you will get stranded somewhere. In these situations, it can be crucial to have supplies on hand to get out safely. Some items to include are road flares, emergency blanket, radio, an ice scraper, some water and snacks, and jumper cables. If you really want to be prepared, then keep a spare charger for the battery.

Check Your Fluids

Antifreeze and coolant are going to be the most vital liquids for your engine during the winter, so make sure that they are topped off before the first snowfall.  Be sure to test them to make sure they are appropriate for the surrounding temperature.

Inspect Your Tires

Although you may have to rely on chains to get around, you also want to be sure that your tires have sufficient traction for the roads. If they are getting bald, you need to replace them ASAP. This is also good advice in general, not just for winter.

Another thing to make sure of is that your tire pressure is sufficient. With cold weather, it’s best if they are a little underinflated (maybe five psi lower than normal) so that you can get better traction.

Switch to Winter Wiper Fluid

Usually, the fluid that stays in your car to keep your windshield clean is going to freeze during the winter. A specialized mix will remain viscous during the season and allow you to clean your windows without worry.

Use Winter Oil

Like wiper fluid, your oil may not be optimized for colder weather. As such, be sure to get an oil change before the temperatures drop dramatically so that you can keep your car in pristine shape during the frozen months.

 


Preparing For Winter Series

Be Prepared for Common Winter Homeowners Insurance Claims

Preparing for Winter

As we mentioned, the winter is a busy season for insurance agents due to the spike in claims. But what kind of issues are homeowners experiencing the most this time of year? Here are some examples.

Roof Damage

Most of us don’t pay too much attention to our roofs until they are caving in on us. The added weight of ice and snow can lead to a collapse if you’re not careful. Even if the worst doesn’t happen, it is possible to have to replace some  roofing.  Make sure your roof is in good condition before winter storms occur.

Fallen Trees

Branches and tree trunks can drop onto your house with little warning or notice, and the results can be devastating. Although you can’t always prepare yourself for this kind of occurrence, you can remove any old or decaying branches before the first snow falls. Look for any trees that may be leaning toward or over your house.  Talk with a professional about possible solutions.

Burst Pipes

The pipes inside our homes are not always built to withstand such temperature variations, which means that they could crack or burst if you’re not careful. Improper insulation and installation is usually the culprit, and the results could be a flooded home. Be sure that all pipes all insulated properly, and you might consider using spigot covers during cold months.

Fire Damage

As we mentioned in Preparing Your Home for Winter, your chimney could be a hazard if you don’t get it cleaned. When burning wood in your fireplace, use a fender (a short and long piece of metal that sits on the hearth to protect the rug or floor from flying sparks) and a firescreen.  If you are using  a space heater, leave plenty of area around the heater and be sure there are no flammable objects near it.

Are You Covered?

Before winter hits, do an insurance review with your agent to ensure that you’re covered from things like falling branches, “acts of God,” as well as other potential damages. You don’t want to wait until a pipe bursts to find out that you’re not covered for such things. Even if you’ve gone years without such a claim, you never know what the future holds. An insurance review could save you thousands of dollars.

Call 265-922-3111 or use our contact form to schedule your insurance review.

 


Preparing For Winter Series

Preparing Your Home for Winter

Preparing for Winter

Since your house may get covered in snow and ice, you want to be sure that the severe weather isn’t going to breach the inside, nor leave behind lasting damage that will have to be repaired. Although you can’t prevent any and all kinds of problems from occurring, you can avoid many common issues that plague homeowners this time of year.

When it comes to protecting your home from the harsh winter weather, your primary goal is to make sure that the cold stays outside where it belongs. Also, you want to keep an eye on parts of your home that are exposed to the elements, including the roof, windows, and gutters.

Keep in mind that this list is not comprehensive, but it should give you an idea of what to think about to get your home ready this winter.

Clean Your Gutters

If leaves and water are sitting in your gutters during the cold season, they could freeze over and cause damage to the gutter itself. In addition, if they get too heavy from an abundance of ice and snow, they could buckle and damage your roof in the process.

Overall, you want to keep them as clear as possible so that when the snows arrive, they aren’t adding to a bunch of gunk that is already there. One thing to remember is that it’s best to wait until there are no more leaves dropping so that you only have to do this once.

Repair Cracks

As water freezes inside these cracks, the ice will expand, widening and deepening the damage. Over time, a little break can turn into a fault line, which can put your home at risk. Ideally, you will work on cracks on both the pavement surrounding your home as well as any masonry that is on the outside (i.e., the chimney).

If your foundation is starting to crack, it’s imperative that you patch it up ASAP. If you let it go too long, then it could spell disaster for your house and lead to significant damage.

Inspect Your Heating System

Depending on where you live, you likely don’t have to use your heater until the weather gets colder. This means that it sits unused for months on end, which can lead to inefficient operation when the time comes.

As such, you want to get all of your machinery inspected before the temperatures drop so that you can improve your energy and heating bills and ensure that it won’t break down when it counts the most.

Reverse Ceiling Fans

This is a minor step, but it can have significant effects. By reversing the flow of the fan blades, you’re moving hot air up and around the home more efficiently, which can help you save some money on heating bills. Also, it enables you to use them all year long since you don’t have to worry about the fan cooling you down when it’s already freezing outside.

Clean Your Chimney

Unless you have a gas fireplace, chances are that your chimney needs some cleaning before you start putting wood inside. Many house fires are started from flammable material that wasn’t removed, so don’t put yourself at risk. If necessary, hire a professional to inspect and clean the inside thoroughly.


Preparing For Winter Series

Preparing for Winter Series

Preparing for Winter

As we’ve seen in years past, winters are getting more brutal and harder to recover from if you’re not prepared. In some areas, buckets of snow and ice can fall in a seemingly endless barrage until you’re covered and potentially snowed in.

This kind of weather can wreak havoc on your home and your car, which is why it’s so crucial that you prepare your properties ahead of time. Don’t wait until the first snow falls to update vital elements of your home or automobile as that will be too late.

In this series, we provide you with some how-to tips to keep your items safe and secure this winter, as well as look at how you can avoid costly insurance claims. This time of year can be one of the busiest for insurance agents.  These tips may help you avoid being part of that that statistic.

Make sure that you are well-covered.  If you haven’t done an annual insurance review yet, the beginning of the year is a great time.  It’s easy.  Just give us a call at 865-922-3111 or click here to use our contact form.

What to Do If You Are in an Accident During the Winter

What to do in an accident during winter

Black ice, snow, blizzards, reckless drivers and other factors can make driving in the winter very dangerous. No one wants to be in a winter accident, but sometimes it happens. Here are some tips to help if you find yourself in a winter accident.

Stay Calm

Take a deep breath and check your new environment.  Your first reaction may be to get out of the car and check the damage, but it may not be safe.  Depending on where you are traveling, you could be near a cliff or large drop-off.  Perhaps a patch of ice is right outside the door. Before getting out of the car, look around and determine that it is safe to exit the car.

Get off the road.

If the car is still in good enough shape to be driven, move it out of the way.  Take it slowly and test the car to see what damage has occurred. Again, drive slowly. You don’t want to make a bad problem get worse.  Move your car enough off the road to remove the risk of other cars hitting you.

Stay in the Car

If you are unable to get the car off the road its best to just stay in the car. Walking around an active road is dangerous in general.  It is even worse in the winter due to ice hazards and the possibility of falling.  (If you slip and fall, you are at the mercy of the driver coming towards you. The cold itself can also be dangerous, so stay in the car and stay warm.  If you have to go out be very careful.

Stay Warm and Visible

During those times that you are stuck in the car it’s best to stay warm and stay visible.  If it is during a storm, this is even more important to help you be found and to keep other drivers from accidentally hitting your car.  Check your “emergency stash” for needed items.  (Want to know what you need to include in your “stash?”  Click here.)  Make sure your hazard lights are turned on in order to help keep your car visible.

Use Your Cell Phone

Finally, use your cell phone to report the accident.  This should get help to you sooner.  Most cell phones now have cameras.  This makes it easy to take photos of the accident.

How to Choose the Right Car for You: Winter Safety Features

How to Choose the Right Car for You: Winter Safety Features

When choosing which car you may want to purchase, be sure to consider the weather.  Walking in the cold is not usually fun, and driving in it can be dangerous.  If your region gets snow and/or ice during the winter (not to mention the wind and rain of this cold season) there are some features you may want to consider that will make driving safer not only for you but for others on the road as well.

Electronic Stability Control (“ESC”)

ESC uses sensors and a microcomputer to monitor your steering. It will apply brakes or modulate engine power to help you keep control of the car. They are very effective in reducing crashes. In fact, there was a study from Highway Loss Data Institute showing that ESC reduces fatal single-vehicular crash risk by 49% for cars and SUV’s.*

Antilock Brakes (“ABS”)

This feature has been around for a while so you may already know what it does and how important it is.  Your ABS keeps your brakes from locking up which is needed on black ice or wet roads.  Think of it like an umbrella. It is better have one and not need it than need one and not have one.

Adaptive Headlights

It is very hard to drive when you cannot see the road during winter.  Adaptive headlights help to solve the problem.  They have small motors that adjust the headlights, moving them to light up where you need them most like around curves, and helping in fog and rain.

Forward Collision Warning and Auto-Braking

Sometimes reaction time is everything — the sooner you react, the more chance you can involve a crash.  This feature helps you have a faster reaction time.  If its sensors detect something is getting to close to the car, it will auto-brake to aid in avoiding a collision. This may be very helpful especially for older people or when a person gets distracted.

LED tail lights

LED lights are not only brighter but they also last longer. With LED tail lights, you can be seen easier during heavy snow, rain or fog.

Snow chains

Snow chain are not actually a “feature” per se, but they should still be considered for a car in winter.  They fit on your tires to make driving easier in the snow. They also help you maintain control of the car, and you may find it easier to drive up and down hills.


* Highway Loss Data Institute

What Should You Do If Stranded During a Blizzard

What to do if you are Stranded in a Blizzard

Imagine for a moment, you’re stranded in your car in the winter and the snow is piling up.  There could be many causes.  There are things you could have done to prevent getting stranded, but you don’t have time to dwell on those.  You have to stay warm and wait it out.  What should you do?

Make sure the exterior exhaust of the car is clear of snow. If the exhaust gets plugged up, carbon monoxide can build up.  It’s odorless, colorless and tasteless. It could kill you if you are exposed to it for too long.  Keep that exhaust clear.

If there is shelter nearby, go there.  However, if there is nothing around, the best thing to do is stay put to avoid getting lost. If it’s night time, not only can you not see, but it’s also colder which makes it even riskier to go on foot. While you are in your car, it’s good to have some blankets with you and and possibly put on some extra clothes.  You need to save gas, so only turn on the car to heat it up and then turn it off. You don’t know how long you will be there.

Make sure you have water around to keep yourself hydrated.  If water is not available, you can get some snow and melt it. Don’t eat the snow itself as it will drop your core temperature. Also, if you have a flashlight and some batteries those will be useful for other people to spot you. Flares can help in the same way.  Finally, keep your hazard lights on to make it easier for people to spot you.

Hopefully you will never have to deal with being stranded like this, but it is always good to be prepared for such an event. Drive safe everyone!