Prepping for Spring: Your Home

Spring is almost here!  The outdoors is already calling us to come and have loads of fun.  It’s important to be ready.

We previously posted some tips about getting your vehicles ready for Spring:

Now that your vehicles are ready for the season you should turn your attention to your house. Your living spaces are primed for spring cleaning, so follow these tips and get your home looking its best so you can enjoy the better weather even more.

Clean Your Gutters

Over the fall and winter, leaves and other debris collected in your gutters, and they are ready to be emptied. If you live in an area that gets a lot of Spring showers, then it’s crucial that you keep your gutters clear so that they can work properly. Now that the sun is out, you can take care of it in a day and be ready for the next rainfall.

Change Your Filters

Chances are that you have several appliances that use filters. A range hood, a built-in water dispenser for your fridge – all of them need to be changed regularly. Don’t forget your HVAC system. Springtime should serve as a reminder to get you to inspect and replace any filters that are looking worse for wear. Having this be a seasonal thing will ensure that you don’t forget about them.

Wash the Windows

Now that the sun is coming out and the weather is nice, you will want to let in as much light as possible. If your windows are still covered in Winter gunk and dirt, now is the time to make them spotless. Just be on the lookout for birds who may not realize that there’s glass in the way.

Take Care of the Lawn

You’ve been able to use the weather as an excuse to avoid mowing and raking leaves, but now you can’t keep avoiding it. When Spring arrives, it’s time to pull the lawnmower out and start trimming your grass.

In addition to the lawn, you should be checking all of your shrubs and plants to see how they fared over the Winter months. If they need treatment or pruning, you should take care of that now so that they can bloom well in the Summer.

Check Your Home Exterior

Take a few minutes to walk around your home and check for any damage, wear or other damage.  Make a note of all items that need to be done and schedule a day that you will complete the tasks.  This will ensure your house stays in top shape.

Make Sure Your Homeowner’s Insurance is Adequate.

Keeping your property in pristine condition is the whole point of Spring cleaning, but you still want to keep them insured adequately just in case.  If you did your annual insurance review back in January, you already know for sure that your home is covered.  If not, contact Bob Johnson Insurance (865-922-3111 or 800-624-3339)to schedule your insurance review.  Our agents can help you understand your options and make sure that you have the coverage you need and want.


Playground Safety Tips

Playground Safety Tips

Kids love playing outside, so they will be headed that way now that it is beginning to get warmer. They love playing at playgrounds even more. Parents cannot always be sure that playgrounds are the safest environments for their children. Too often, there are reports of children falling off of equipment and getting hurt. The answer is not to make kids stay away from playgrounds. Instead, parents need to teach kids about playground safety so they have the skills that are needed to remain safe. Here are some great playground safety tips to share with your kids today. 

Never Play Unsupervised 

Although it can sometimes seem like a pain in the neck to take the kids to the playground, it is really a great playground safety tip and  the best defense against them being hurt. Plus, if an accident does happen, you are there to help out or call 911. Besides, kids love it when their parents watch the cool things they can do on the playground equipment. 

Check for Potential Hazards 

When you are at the playground with your kids, take a quick look around to check for potential hazards. Make sure your kids stay away from items that can hurt them like broken glass or rusted equipment.

Teach Your Kids To Play Nicely 

There will often be other kids your children do not know at the playground. Teach your children to always play nicely and include everyone in their games. Pushing and shoving can start out innocently but can result in someone getting hurt. 

Dress Appropriately

Sometimes something as simple as clothing choice can make or break a fun trip to the playground. Necklaces, purse straps, scarves and drawstrings are but a few innocent-looking items that can create a hazard at the playground. A great playground safety tip to teach your children is to avoid wearing anything that can get caught on the equipment and cause them to get hurt. 

Choose Age-Appropriate Play Areas for Your Kids 

Most playgrounds have separate play areas for big and little kids. Small children can easily get hurt if they are playing on equipment that is meant for older kids. Also, if your kids are among the older set, make sure they stay where they belong so they do not inadvertently spoil the fun time the little ones are having. 

Only Play Where There are Safe Surfaces Underneath the Equipment 

These days, most playgrounds come complete with impact-absorbing materials like sand, pea gravel or shredded rubber under the equipment. These materials help to make sure kids stay safe and uninjured when they fall. Avoid playgrounds that still have asphalt, concrete, grass or dirt under the equipment. These materials do not absorb impact which can cause injuries when kids fall onto them. 

Insurance Coverage for Playground Accidents? 

Since accidents can happen pretty easily on a playground, many parents wonder about insurance coverage for playground accidents. Chances are, if your child is injured on a playground, the insurance of whomever owns or runs the playground would cover your child’s injuries if he or she were to be found negligent. 

If your child gets injured on the school playground when school is in session, the institution can be held responsible, particularly if there was negligence on the part of the staff. In cases like this, the school’s insurance company will likely have to pay for any medical attention your child needs. 

There are steps parents can take to make extra sure their children are covered in the event of a playground accident. Having adequate insurance coverage for playground accidents is the best course of action to make sure you are financially safe if your child is hurt on a playground.

Be sure to check with your insurance agent to make sure your coverage is adequate. Here are some types of insurance you might inquire about.

Health insurance 

Chances are you have health insurance either through your employer or one you bought independently. If your child gets hurt, a health insurance policy can be a lifesaver when the medical bills come in. 

Homeowner’s insurance

Sometimes your health insurance is not enough, and you need additional coverage. This is where homeowner’s insurance comes in. Some policies cover accidents that happen away from the home. 

Umbrella policies

Another great option is to get an umbrella policy. An umbrella policy is a separate policy you can buy that covers incidents that occur that are outside the realm of other policies such as homeowners insurance. 

Bob Johnson Insurance is here to help in these cases.  As an independent agency, we are able to offer a choice of carriers and options, plus personalized advice to help make sense of it all. And, we make it easy by doing the research and the work for you.  Click here to contact us today or call us at 865-922-3111  with your insurance questions and/or needs.

What Should You Expect From Your Insurance Company After a House Fire?

An Insurance Guide to House Fires

Series: An Insurance Guide to House Fires

On your end, you want to recover quickly and get back on your feet. If you want to ensure that your needs are met, here are some things to consider. 

Assess Cost of Living Expenses

Even if you wind up staying at a family member’s house, you can still get money for their trouble. Have your family member draft a list of living expenses that they are providing (i.e., room and board, meals, etc.) so that you can include it into your claim. These are called “loss of use” funds, and they will help you out immensely.

Beyond the price of a hotel room, most insurance companies will only consider expenses that are generated as a result of the fire. For example, if your grocery bill is only $400 a month and you’re still spending that living elsewhere, you won’t be able to claim any additional funds. 

Getting an Advance

Because filing and processing a claim takes time, you will likely have to secure an advance from the insurance company to handle any immediate expenses or bills. Remember, you have to pay things like mortgage and utilities even if your house is under repair, so you need money to stay solvent. 

Don’t Throw Anything Away

It’s natural to think that ruined items should go into the trash, but don’t do anything until it’s been logged into your case file. If you toss something and the insurance company doesn’t know about it, that’s a total loss, and you can’t reclaim it in your settlement. 

Don’t Agree to Close the Case Immediately

Don’t close your case too quickly. It can sometimes take several months to assess all of the damage to the property. If your case is closed, and you find additional damage to your property, you won’t be able to do anything because the case is closed. Thus, wait a while before you make things final so that you don’t run into that situation. 

Contact Us Today

Don’t wait until it’s too late to contact Bob Johnson Insurance. Your home is one of the most valuable items you own, so it’s crucial that you have a policy that will replace lost or damaged items.

If you live in Knoxville, TN, and the surrounding area, call us today at 865-922-311 or click here to contact us to find out how we can protect you and your family. As an independent agency, we are able to offer a choice of carriers and options, plus personalized advice to help make sense of it all. And, we make it easy by doing the research and the work for you.

What Do Insurance Companies Expect from You After a House Fire?

An Insurance Guide to House Fires

Series: An Insurance Guide to House Fires

For the most part, insurers are mostly interested in the following:

  • Assessing the amount of your claim
  • Getting a comprehensive list of damages and lost items
  • Closing your claim quickly

To ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible, you should try to provide the insurance company with as much documentation and information as possible including:

  • Date and time of the fire
  • Location of the fire
  • Injuries and personal damage
  • Previous and current condition of the home
  • Repair costs
  • Cost of living expenses 
  • A police report

You should keep copies of everything in a centralized binder so that you can manage all of these documents neatly. Overall, the more disorganized you are, the more you have to rely on your insurer to assess the damage for you. Having proof of the damage to the value of the lost or damaged items helps work toward a more accurate claim amount.

Next: What Should You Expect From Your Insurance Company After a House Fire?

What You Should Do After a House Fire

An Insurance Guide to House Fires

Series: An Insurance Guide to House Fires

In the immediate aftermath of the fire, you will likely be shocked and stunned. However, the faster that you can start on the path towards recovery, the better it will be for both you and your home. Here are the steps you should take to ensure an efficient restitution plan. 

Find a Place to Stay

Chances are that your home will not be available for you after the fire, meaning that you have to either reach out to friends or family to provide a place to sleep and live in the interim. Only if there is extremely minor damage will you be able to remain in the home, but you have to wait for approval from the fire department. 

Call Your Agent

You want to get your agent out to the property as soon as possible to assess the damage and start working on your claim. You want to get things back to normal quickly, so the sooner you do this, the better off you’ll be. Not only can you get a settlement to repair the damage, but you may also be entitled to “loss of use” funds that can help cover immediate expenses, such as living arrangements. 

Work on Your Financial Situation

Recovery is the primary goal, but the fact is that banks and lenders won’t put a hold on your mortgage payments just because you had a fire. This is another reason to contact your agent immediately so that you can be sure that you can continue to make payments on time and in full so that you don’t have any financial problems afterward. 

Another thing to consider is if any financial documents were lost in the fire. If you lost items like credit cards, bank statements, or tax information it could create problems down the line. Contact these companies to ensure that you can avoid such issues. 

Take Inventory of Damaged Items

While the insurance company will run a comprehensive assessment of what was lost or damaged in the fire, you should make sure that all items are accounted for as well. If you have not done a policy renewal in the last few years, you could be sitting on more value than the insurance company may realize. (See Doing an Insurance Review: Why You Need It and What to Do.)

It’s imperative that you work with your insurer to get the funds necessary to replace everything, including those items that were totally destroyed. Overall, this process may take the longest, unless you have an itemized list of purchases and appraisals already. (See Why You Need a Home Inventory List and How to Make One.) Otherwise, you will have to determine the value after the fact so that it can go towards your claim settlement. 

Being Safe After a House Fire

No matter what, you should never go back into the house unless the fire department says it’s okay. The structural integrity of the property may not be intact, meaning that you could run into falling debris, further causing injury to yourself and others. 

When going back into the house, be sure to avoid sections that are waterlogged. Mold and bacteria will breed in these parts, which could create a health hazard.

As we mentioned, smoke damage can also include dangerous chemicals, so avoid touching items that have soot on them, as well as breathing heavily in sections of the house that have significant smoke stains. If necessary, wear a breathing mask. 

Next: What Do Insurance Companies Expect After a House Fire?

What to Expect After a House Fire

An Insurance Guide to House Fires

Series: An Insurance Guide to House Fires

For many homeowners, one of the worst things that can happen is a fire in the home. Whether it’s a small flame or a destructive blaze, the damage can be both catastrophic and emotionally scarring. 

However, if you do experience a house fire, it’s imperative that you understand what options you have for recovery. Homeowner’s insurance is designed to protect you against this kind of damage, but it requires input from you to ensure that the process moves smoothly. 

If you live in the Knoxville, TN area, then contact Bob Johnson Insurance today to find out how we cover house fires. We provide excellent policies that will keep you and your family protected, no matter what happens. 

What to Expect After a House Fire

If your home goes up in flames, a lot of things are going to happen. The more you know what to expect, the better you can react to ensure that you are both safe and informed. Here’s an overview of what can happen after a house fire. 

Wait for the Fire to be Fully Extinguished

The fire department will be the ones handling the blaze, and it’s up to them to decide when the area is safe and the fire is out. Until they give the all clear, you should avoid getting close to the fire at all. 

Injury Assessment

Hopefully, no one will be hurt in the blaze, but that’s not always the case. If you or a family member are injured either by the fire itself or other circumstances (i.e., smoke inhalation), the paramedics will probably rush you to the emergency room to figure out the extent of the injury. 

Going Back Inside

Depending on how big and how destructive the fire was, you may be able to go back into your house or you may not. Again, it’s up to the fire department to determine how safe the property is, so don’t try going back in unless you have been instructed to do so. Otherwise, you could be putting yourself at unnecessary risk. 

Water and Smoke Damage

Just because part of your house was not engulfed in flames doesn’t mean that it wasn’t damaged. Water hoses and fire extinguishers are necessary for putting out the blaze which can leave lasting effects on parts of your property (as well as the stuff inside). In some case, you may have items that need replacing because they are waterlogged. 

Smoke can also require more extensive recovery. Because the ash can contain harmful chemicals, it will have to be cleaned to avoid inhalation. Again, even if the section was not touched by fire, you can still be facing a lot of damage from the smoke. 

Next: What You Should Do After a House Fire

An Insurance Guide to House Fires (series)

An Insurance Guide to House Fires

For many homeowners, one of the worst things that can happen is a fire in the home. Whether it’s a small flame or a destructive blaze, the damage can be both catastrophic and emotionally scarring. 

If you do experience a house fire, it’s imperative that you understand what options you have for recovery. Homeowner’s insurance is designed to protect you against this kind of damage, but it requires input from you to ensure that the process moves smoothly. 

Part 1: What to Expect After a House Fire

Part 2: What You Should Do After a House Fire

Part 3: What Do Insurance Companies Expect After a House Fire?

Part 4: What Should You Expect From Your Insurance Company After a House Fire?

Fireworks Safety Basics for New Year’s Eve

Fireworks Safety Basics for New Year's Eve

We often spend New Year’s Eve with family and friends, and we enjoy great food as we celebrate the incoming New Year. However, when it comes to fireworks, it can be a bit hazardous and stressful, which is why you want to be safe and careful this season. 

Every year, thousands of homes are damaged or destroyed by the improper use of fireworks, which can make the holiday a dangerous time of year. At Bob Johnson Insurance, your property is our concern, which is why we’re sharing our top safety tips for you and your family. 

How to Protect Yourself and Others

  • If you want to avoid any problems altogether, then don’t set off fireworks at home. Instead, Knoxville has lots of parties and events going on for New Year’s Eve, and some of them may include fireworks.  Do a quick internet search for “Knoxville TN fireworks New Year’s Eve”.
  • If you’re going to light some fireworks, be sure to read the instructions first, and don’t make or use homemade versions. 
  • Be cautious with children. Many little ones will want to join in on the fun, but don’t let them get too close. Usually, people think sparklers are safe, but they can still burn at more than 1,000 degrees F. Overall, let your children be observers, not participants. Over 40% of injuries happen to kids under the age of 15. 
  • Never let your kids light fireworks unattended. If you have teenagers, you want to keep an eye on them. One errant spark can create a hazardous situation, which is why you have to be vigilant. 

Protecting Your Property

Again, if you want to avoid fire hazards, you should probably leave the fireworks to the professionals. However, if you decide to light off fireworks, then follow these tips. 

  • Keep any and all flammable materials away from the festivities. Paper plates, napkins, and other combustibles can be more than enough to create a blaze. 
  • Monitor your surroundings. Trees, bushes, and dry grass can also catch fire, so keep an eye on natural hazards as well. 
  • Clean your gutters. If a firework ends up on the roof, it could ignite dried leaves and debris in your gutters.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher handy. Even if you’re careful, a neighbor may not be as vigilant. Always hope for the best but be prepared for the worst. 

This New Year’s Eve, don’t take any chances. Don’t become one of the statistics and follow these safety tips. Whether staying at home or going abroad this season, have fun and be safe!

Tips for Safe Holiday

Tips for a Safe Holiday

The holidays are fun and exciting and busy. Holiday decorations add to the atmosphere and excitement, but they also pose potential safety issues. Follow these simple tips to stay safe this holiday season.

Inspect Strands of Lights

Lights are beautiful and really set the tone for the holidays, but always play it safe when dealing with electricity. Before stringing lights inspect the entire strand. Look for frayed or exposed wires, cracks in the housing where bulbs screw in or any other damage. If you find anything wrong or damaged do not use the strand. Replace damaged strands with new and safe strings of lights. Always unplug a strand when replacing a bulb and make sure to use replacement bulbs that are the correct voltage.

Turn Lights Off at Night

Turn holiday decorations off overnight. Lights become warm the longer they are on and this can pose an ignition risk, especially when hung on a tree. Consider using a timer to ensure the lights go on and off each night to save you from remembering and ensuring safety. Also shut the lights off when you head out to work or to run errands. The same goes for candles. Never leave a candle burning unattended.

Safely Burn the Yule Log

A fire creates a cozy ambience, but before lighting a fire make sure the structure and equipment is safe. For a gas fireplace that means the glass should be intact and in place. For a wood burning fireplace, be sure the chimney has been cleaned and keep the size of the fire under control. Store wood a reasonable distance from the fireplace and keep fire rated gloves and fireplace tools, such as a poker close by.

Test Your Alarms

Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure everything is in proper working order. You should routinely check these devices to ensure safety, but with all of the extra decorations and activities during the holidays giving everything another check is a good idea.

Value of Safety Checks

Ensure the holidays are a festive time, but also a safe time by putting these tips to use. With all of the hussle and hubbub of the holidays taking the time to watch out for these safety issues can keep your family and loved ones safe and secure.

Insurance involves more than just a policy. We want all of our customers to be safe and celebrate an enjoyable holiday season. If you have questions, click here contact BJI. We are glad to help.

Keep Your Trees and Shrubs Protected From Wind Damage

Keep Your Trees and Shrubs Protected From Wind Damage

When you consider environmental hazards in Tennessee, what do you think of the most? Chances are you may imagine things like rain and tornadoes. However, strong winds can also be a danger to your home if you’re not prepared. 

So, with that in mind, we at Bob Johnson Insurance want to help you get ready for the changing weather. Since your trees and shrubs are the most susceptible to wind damage, it’s imperative that you take steps to keep them in good shape throughout the fall and winter. 

Here’s how. 

Cover Them

Many home and garden stores sell landscape fabric, which you can purchase by the yard and use to cover your trees and shrubs. Also, be sure to get plant ties so that you can secure the fabric to them without any problems. 

Prune Them

If you’re serious about protecting your plants, then quality pruning will be essential this season. If they’re too overgrown, then wind can easily catch between leaves and branches, causing breaks and potential uprooting. 

Plant More

Individual trees can be a hazard during strong winds. However, multiple trees close together can act as a natural barrier. Also, their root systems will intertwine, making them less susceptible to coming out of the ground. Finally, a wind barrier for your home can help you save on utilities. 

Plan Accordingly When Planting

If you decide that your property needs more trees and shrubs, then you want to make sure that you have a strategy in place so that you don’t have to maintain them as much during the windy months. 

For example, you may want to place the plants on the non-windy side of your property. Your home will act as a barrier, helping new saplings stay in the ground until they’re strong enough. 

Also, consider what the roots can do over time. If you plant trees too close to your foundation, it can cause damage to your home, as well as any pipes in the area. Be sure to consult your local Tennessee zoning board to find out if there are other dangers present underneath your yard. 

As a rule, small trees need about 10 square feet of space around them. Larger trees need about 30 feet to be safe. 

Don’t let the wind pose a threat to your plants and trees this fall season. At Bob Johnson Insurance, we understand that having this foliage on your property can have a lot of benefits. That’s why we’re committed to helping you keep your greenery in shape all year long.