Is Your Clothes Dryer a Firetrap?

Each year, there are thousands of dryer fires that cause death and injuries and result in millions of dollars in damage. In some cases, faulty appliances are to blame, but most fires can be prevented with proper dryer cleaning and venting maintenance.

How a Clothes Dryer Fire Occurs

Lint is a highly combustible material that is produced in the drying process. Normally it is blasted away from the dryer through the exhaust vent. When lint accumulates and clogs up the dryer ductwork, it chokes the airflow and causes heat to build up in the exhaust duct, creating ideal conditions for a fire.

Traditionally, most clothes dryers were placed in the basement, usually against an outside wall. Today, many newer homes have dryers located on the main or second floor, often away from outside walls. These new locations mean dryers need to be vented longer distances with sharp turns and bends. Not only does this create more places for lint to gather, but also, it makes cleaning difficult since the vents are harder to reach.

Inside the Dryer

Most people assume the lint traps catch all the lint and they just have to clean them out after each load. Unfortunately, a significant amount of lint is not caught by the trap and builds up inside the dryer – even on the heating element – causing the dryer to overheat and possibly catch fire.

Outside the Dryer

Flimsy plastic or foil duct extenders should be avoided. They are easily kinked or crushed during installation restricting airflow, and the spiral wound surfaces tend to catch more lint. We recommend only solid metal ducts and vents be used to allow the air and lint to be carried safely out of the house.

Don’t let your dryer become a firetrap. Keep your dryer as lint free as possible. Not only will you reduce the risk of fire, you’ll save money, as your dryer runs more efficiently and lasts longer. Since clogged vents cause most dryer fires, be sure to disconnect, clean and inspect your ductwork on a regular basis.

Finally, never let your clothes dryer run while you are out of the house or even worse, when you are asleep. Thoroughly read manufacturers’ instructions regarding the safe use of their dryers. If all else fails, you can always use an old-fashioned clothesline. There have never been any reported clothesline fires!

Directors & Officers Liability for Volunteers

There are tens of thousands of non-profit voluntary organizations and charities in Canada.

You may be involved in a local sporting association, registered charity, religious group or foundation as a volunteer, director or board member.

If this is the case, you should make sure your organization carries sufficient Directors and Officers Liability (D & O) coverage to protect its Volunteers or paid Board of Directors from possible liability claims. Without this protection, you could be held personally liable for claims made against your organization.

With lawsuits on the rise and damage awards increasing, it’s more crucial than ever to safeguard you and your fellow directors and officers from allegations of wrongful acts including negligence, errors or omissions and breach of trust. Liability insurance protects against these threats, whether they have merit or not.

 

Organizations have an obligation to protect its volunteers as much as possible from risk to safeguard the organization’s quality of service, reputation and volunteer management expertise. However, it’s up to you to make sure the organization you’re involved with has proper protection for its volunteers.

Marijuana Grow Houses Make Lousy Neighbours

There are estimated to be 50,000 marijuana grow houses in Canada. Although they can exist in any neighbourhood, organized growers seem to prefer to rent larger homes in quiet areas with unfinished basements. You may even have one in your neighbourhood.

Besides being illegal and driving property values down, grow houses, create health, fire, and safety risks for neighbours and future purchasers.

Grow house operators often steal electricity to power an elaborate system of lighting and fans. Rarely do these modifications meet electrical codes – instead they create hazards. It is estimated that 1 in 10 of these rewired homes will burn down.

The heat lamps used to create artificial lighting generate tremendous amounts of heat. So growers install powered ventilation systems to remove the hot humid air. This often results in damage to structural components, including roof/gable vents, chimneys and attic spaces. Improper ventilation causes dampness which leads to mould growth, mildew and rot.

Telltale signs of a grow operation include houses that always have the blinds down or windows covered; “occupants” that are rarely seen, or come and go at unusual hours; and houses with little or no garbage for pick up. The alterations made to the building for optimal plant growth, including electrical and ventilation modifi cations, are often impossible to reverse without great expense.

Insurance companies will not cover damage caused by marijuana grow operations. According to real estate experts, once a home is used for a grow operation, it can have a dramatic negative effect on its resale value. Unless it is totally rehabilitated, a grow house may be impossible to finance or insure.

If you are a landlord, be wary of renters who pay in cash and are rarely at home. Landlords should always request a copy of the renter’s insurance policy, specifically naming the landlord as an additional named insured on the policy. In addition, always ask for a credit application. The creation of a paper trail and request for insurance documents will usually deter any potential grower from your property.

One Person, One Seatbelt Law – Now in Effect

As of November 2, 2006, everyone in a vehicle must be buckled up or secured in the appropriate child car safety seat – it’s the law. This legislation closed a loophole where some people were carrying more passengers than the number of seatbelts in the vehicle.

The “one person, one seatbelt” legislation prohibits “doubling up”– that is, two or more people using the same seatbelt at the same time.

Drivers are responsible to make sure all passengers under 16 years of age are wearing a seatbelt or are secured in an appropriate child car safety seat. Those passengers 16 years of age and older must wear a seatbelt or could personally face a fine.

The fine for failing to use, or improperly using, a seatbelt is $90 plus a victim surcharge of $20. In addition, drivers who fail to use or who improperly use a seatbelt can have two demerit points applied to their driver record.

The “one person, one seatbelt” law will help prevent needless deaths and injuries on Ontario’s roads. Please buckle up.

Do you need Title Insurance?

If someone steals your identity, they could steal your house. Identity theft is one of the fastest growing consumer crimes. A disturbing new type of identity fraud has recently emerged. Once a thief steals your identity, he or she places a mortgage on your home or property without your knowledge or consent and pockets the funds. In extreme cases, the thief may impersonate you using false identification and then forge your signature to transfer the property title out of your name.

Title insurance is designed to cover the unpredictable and undetectable issues that can affect the right of ownership to a property. Normally this protects property owners against survey defects, Liens, land use restrictions or easements and title registration errors. Title insurance also protects against future fraud and forgeries affecting the title and is available for both residential and commercial properties.

The Provincial Legislature has begun drafting legislation to address title fraud, but in the interim, it is in your best interest to seek advice from your legal counsel. Whether you are purchasing a new or older home, title insurance can protect you and your lender from title-related issues or claims.

Good title not only gives you peace of mind today, it is essential when its time to sell your home. Don’t put your life long investment at risk, check with your lawyer to see what’s best for you.

Is that thing insurable?

Maybe you’ve seen them. More likely you’ve heard them first. They are called Pocket Rockets and Go-peds – and they are the newest types of motorized transportation favoured by teenagers and young adults.

Pocket Rockets (mini street bikes) are meant for closed circuit use only and cannot be used on public roads. Although they are imported as “restricted-use motorcycles”, pocket rockets cannot be registered or licensed with the Ministry of Transportation and therefore cannot be insured under an auto policy. It is illegal to operate a go-ped (electric and motorized scooters) on public roads. Anyone caught operating one on Ontario’s roads could face charges for driving an unlicensed and uninsured motor vehicle. Due to a variety of safety concerns, many municipalities have also introduced by-laws prohibiting their use on public sidewalks or bike paths.

If you are thinking about buying a gas-powered pocket rocket or go-ped, you should be aware that insurance coverage is not available for these vehicles. Your property policy excludes liability arising out of the use or operation of a motorized vehicle. Your auto policy will not cover them because they do not meet equipment safety standards or regulations governing motor vehicle use.

Unfortunately, most purchasers are not told of the dangers, use restrictions, or insurance limitations before they buy. Only after an accident, do they find out about the risks. Before you buy a pocket rocket or go-ped, consider where you can legally use it, weigh the safety concerns, and recognize that if something goes wrong, you could be personally responsible for picking up the costs.

Recently in London Ontario, a boy lost control of his go-ped and veered onto the road causing an accident. Although he was unhurt, his parents are now facing a lawsuit from the driver for vehicle repairs and personal injury claims.

In an effort to expand the mobility options for Ontarians, the Ministry of Transportation recently updated its list of vehicles approved for use on public roads to include mopeds, limited speed motorcycles, electric bicycles and SeggwayTM Human Transporters.

For more information on these exciting vehicles, visit http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/dandv/vehicle/emerging.

Do you need Event Insurance?

If you are hosting a party, a wedding reception or private function – whether in your home or at a rented venue – you should consider purchasing Event Liability Insurance.

This specialty insurance policy is designed to protect you from personal injury claims or property damage that may occur during your event. Alcohol related accidents, property damage, and personal injuries are the top concerns. A car accident caused by an intoxicated guest leaving your event may result in a liability suit against you. If one of your guests trips and falls, this policy will respond to cover the bodily injury incurred by that guest.

Many banquet halls and other venues insist that hosts carry this type of protection. A special event policy will cover the gaps in your homeowners policy and any claims made will not affect your premiums.

To find out more, contact us before your next special event.

Is it a Hobby or Home-Based Business?

Has your e-commerce hobby turned into a business? Do you run a business out of your house? Are you sure you have the right insurance coverage? If your hobby has turned into a business, your home insurance may not cover you.

Whether you run a daycare, a computer repair business, an office from your home, or sell fresh produce at a roadside stand, you should talk to us. Your home or farm policy may not automatically cover you. A special policy, a rider to your current policy, or additional liability coverage may be required to protect your home-based business.

While a home-based business can provide freedom, wealth and personal satisfaction, it could also expose you to situations where your policy may not respond. Enjoy your hobby or home-based business, but remember to stay in touch with us to make sure your insurance coverage is always up-to-date.

Fatal Distractions?

There have always been distractions while driving – tuning the radio, drinking coffee, or attending to a child. Today, a new generation of technology gadgets – from cell phones and PDA’s to GPSsystems and MP3 players – are making these distractions seem old-fashioned.

While these devices entertain us or keep us in touch with one another, they definitely make our roads more dangerous. It’s not hard to imagine the dangers of typing text message or searching for one song among thousands while zooming down the road at 80km/hr. If you think nobody does that, you’re wrong. In fact, nearly 40% of the drivers in a U.S. poll said they’ve typed a text message while driving, 30% said they’ve driven while using their MP3 players with headphones… and an alarming 58% admitted they’ve taken both hands off the steering wheel to fiddle with high-tech gadgets.

Without thinking, we have become slaves to these devices – not knowing when to turn them off and unable to resist the urge to answer their calls. A recent study helped prove this point. Although 89% of the drivers surveyed admitted to having concerns about distracted drivers, 60% indicated they would not stop using their technology devices even after being told they increased their risk of a collision by 400%. Many jurisdictions, like New York state, have banned cell phone use while driving and are drafting laws to “prohibit reading, writing and the use of personal communications technologies” while behind the wheel.

It is your responsibility to understand the risks of driving with high-tech distractions and to know when to use them and when to leave them in your pocket. The safest strategy is to always wait until you get to your destination, or pull over to a safe location, before making your calls. If you must be on call and available while in your vehicle, consider a wireless headset or a device with voice command software to reduce your risk.

Don’t ever check or send email or surf the Internet while driving – period. PDA’s, laptops and navigation systems all add dangerous multi-tasking to the driving experience.

Finally, never use headphones while driving!

It’s not only distracting, but dangerous because you won’t be able to hear emergency vehicles.

Use common sense when it comes to in-car technology gadgets, your life may depend on it.