Gulfshore Insurance > Gulfshore Blog > Private Risk Services

How to keep yourself, your home, and your belongings safe from lightning.

Personal Lines Lightning SafetyAccording to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), Florida has the highest number of lightning casualties of all 50 states. Lightning can cause damage to your home and belongings—and can cause bodily harm. It’s prudent to take steps to prevent the dangerous effects of lightning and to keep yourself and your family safe. Here are some things you can do according to the I.I.I.:

  • Lightning and insurance. Most standard homeowners and auto insurance policies cover damages, such as fire, that results from a lightning strike. Some policies also provide coverage for the damage caused by power surges. With that being said, it’s far better to prevent lightning damage than to have to deal with the consequences. Contact your advisor today to review your policy.
  • Lightning protection system. A lightning protection system (LPS) provides a specified path on which lightning can travel. The Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) explains how LPSs work in this infographic. A rooftop network of lightning rods or air terminals is connected to a series of down conductors, which carry the current down to a grounding network. In that way, the system safely directs the destructive power of the lightning strike into the ground, which leaves the structure of your home and its contents undamaged.
  • Surges. Electrical surges from lightning can enter a structure via power transmission lines and cause electrical fires as well as damage to your electrical system, your appliances and your home electronics. Regular power strips offer little surge protection. To assure the best safeguards, UL-listed surge protection devices (SPDs) should be installed to filter and dissipate damaging electrical discharges. To protect valuable electronics like computers, home entertainment centers, gaming systems and smart home technology, install UL-listed transient voltage surge suppressors–and consider unplugging expensive electronics when you know a storm is approaching.
  • Protect yourself and your family with precautions. 
    • When thunder roars, go indoors. During a storm, it’s best to take shelter in a house or other fully enclosed building. Inside, don’t stand near open windows, doorways or metal piping. Stay off the phone and avoid contact with small appliances, like toasters and hairdryers. As water conducts electricity, also stay away from plumbing, sinks, tubs and radiators.
    • If you know a storm is coming, avoid known hazards and dangerous locations. These include areas where you will be the highest object—a golf course, for example. Bodies of water also attract lightning, so avoid lakes, beaches or open water, and fishing from a boat or dock. Never ride golf carts, motorcycles or bicycles during a thunderstorm.
    • If you are caught outside in a thunderstorm, take shelter in a hard topped-vehicle or a low area such a tunnel or even a cave if necessary. Stay clear of fences, isolated trees and other conductive objects such as telephone poles, power lines and pipelines. These present a danger from a potential side flash, which is voltage from a nearby, lightning-struck object.
    • If you’re caught in an open field with no nearby shelter, and your hair begins to stand on end, drop down into a crouch with your hands on your knees, and balance on the balls of your feet. The static electricity in your hair is an indication that lightning is about to strike, and the idea is to make as little contact with the ground as possible. Never lie down flat or place your hands on the ground.

 

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to Gulfshore Insurance, we are here to keep you informed and safe.

Andrea Pelletier, CPRIA, CPIA is Client Advisor and Partner at Gulfshore Insurance specializing in Private Risk Services. Andrea works with successful individuals and their families on creating and customizing package insurance solutions in the areas of luxury homes, car collections, jewelry, fine arts, watercraft, and personal excess liability. Comments and questions are welcome at apelletier@gulfshoreinsurance.com

Personal Lines How to Properly Protect Watercraft from TheftThe National Insurance Crime Bureau recently released its 2019 Watercraft Theft Report indicating Florida as the number one state for watercraft theft. With most thefts in 2019 occurring during the months of June (517) and July (543), now is the time to make sure you are practicing smart watercraft theft protection.

In a previous article, we offered suggestions for properly securing your watercraft, both in and out of the water. However, in addition to this, monitoring and tracking are additional measures to properly protect your vessel. In a world where you can do just about anything on the internet, it should come as no surprise that you can also keep a close eye on your boat from the comfort of home. In fact, not only are there a plethora of watercraft monitoring options available, but most go much further than simply telling you where your boat is.

At its simplest, a monitor is just a GPS tracker that relays your boat’s position to a computer, tablet, or smartphone via a dedicated app. You can also pre-set a specific boundary—so-called geo-fencing—in which case it will warn you if your boat ever strays too far, much like an anchor alarm. Most GPS units raise an alarm via local cellphone network and therefore only function in areas with reasonable coverage; even with a booster aboard, your range will be just a few miles. If you’re sailing off the beaten track, a more foolproof approach is to employ a monitor with satellite capabilities. In addition to monitoring the position of a watercraft, additional concerns like whether the bilge is filling up with water; the shore-power connection hasn’t tripped; or thieves haven’t helped themselves to high-end electronics are constant.

With respect to water ingress, nearly all monitoring units on the market support a simple on-off bilge level alarm that warns you if the boat begins filling up. Most also allow you to connect a bilge pump to a relay in order to switch it on remotely. Some will even monitor overall bilge pump activity for any unusual patterns. Many systems can also detect a loss of shore power, which is vital for ensuring your batteries stay in good shape at the dock. In terms of intruder detection, at its simplest, this will typically consist of a magnetic relay that is tripped when someone opens a door, triggering an alarm. Going up a step or two in terms of sophistication, pressure mats and even infrared laser entry detection capability are available as part of more sophisticated systems.

Of course, for those in search of the ultimate in remote security, there is remote video, giving you eyes on whatever may have triggered an alarm. Some systems not only include a built-in camera, but also give you the ability to add on dedicated external camera units as well. Many systems are capable of transmitting video directly to your cellphone or computer and even allow you to direct the cameras.

Of course, if the worst should happen and your boat or equipment is stolen and not recovered, it pays to have comprehensive insurance in place. Gulfshore Insurance offers exceptional, all-risk insurance coverage for the spectrum of pleasure yachts and boats, including luxury mega-yachts and sailboats, sport fishing boats, ski boats, personal watercraft, high performance vessels and select charter vessels. For more information on how to protect yourself, contact one of our trusted advisors today.

Personal Lines Minimize Damage After a HurricaneAfter a hurricane hits, it’s important that you keep your safety in mind before you begin assessing the damage that was done to your property. Do not return to your home until it is confirmed by authorities that it is safe for you to do so. With the danger of dangling power lines, fallen trees, flooding and more, you’ll want to keep these 8 things in mind when safely returning to your home or assessing it for damage:

  1. Check your power lines
    Beware of loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the proper authorities. If you see a power line that’s down, move away from it and beware of any water or other objects touching the lines.
  2. Don’t use your water
    Use your emergency supply of water or boil water before drinking until officials have given word that it’s safe.
  3. Operate a generator safely
    If you’ve lost power, make sure to operate your generator outside your home in a well-ventilated area. Do not operate generators or gas, propane or charcoal grills indoors or near your home’s ventilation areas.
  4. Protect the exterior
    If your home has sustained damage, cover the roof with tarps and your windows with plywood if it is safe for you to do so.
  5. Clean items left indoors
    Dust items with a soft brush and wipe metal objects with a soft, lint-free cloth.
  6. Assess interior damage
    If you have wet or damaged artwork, blot off excess moisture, remove wet backings, mats and frames and keep them in an air-conditioned room. Take pictures of any damage and contact professionals for assistance.
  7. Inspect your car
    Wash any debris from your car and take photos of any damage.
  8. Use caution while driving
    Be aware of fallen power lines, debris on the road, missing signs, or broken traffic lights. Be cautious of any moving water before driving through it, and make sure you have a spare tire.

For more tips on what to do before, during, and after a hurricane, check out these resources from Ready.gov. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.

Andrea Pelletier, CPRIA, CPIA is Client Advisor and Partner at Gulfshore Insurance specializing in Private Risk Services. Andrea works with successful individuals and their families on creating and customizing package insurance solutions in the areas of luxury homes, car collections, jewelry, fine arts, watercraft, and personal excess liability. Comments and questions are welcome at apelletier@gulfshoreinsurance.com

 

Personal Lines 4 Questions to Determine Where to Keep Your ValuablesIf you’d like to keep your important papers and small valuables away from burglars, fire or natural disaster, here are four questions you can ask yourself to determine whether you should store them in a bank safety deposit box, an in-home safe, or both.

  1. How valuable are your items?
    If items are not replaceable or very valuable, such as expensive jewelry or special documents, you’ll want to keep them in a bank safe. If they are not as valuable or can be easily replaced, an in-home safe is probably good enough.
  2. How often do you need these items?
    If you only use items, such as fine jewelry, on special occasions, a bank safe may work well, but if you use them nearly every day or at least once a week, a bank safe would be inconvenient and a good in-home safe may be a better idea.
  3. Will you be away from home for an extended period of time?
    If you’re planning to be away from home for an extended period of time, be sure to put all of your valuables in a bank safe. If you’re gone for a weekend or a couple days, you probably don’t need to go to that length, and an in-home safe will work fine.
  4. How secure is your in-home safe?
    If you use an in-home safe, make sure it has a tool and torch resistant rating of 30 minutes or more (TL-30/TR-30), is too heavy for a burglar to carry or is bolted to the floor or home structure. If your safe doesn’t meet these requirements, you may want to keep your valuables in the bank safe instead.

If you need advice about where to store your specific valuables, please do not hesitate to reach out to Gulfshore Insurance.

Andrea Pelletier, CPRIA, CPIA is Client Advisor and Partner at Gulfshore Insurance specializing in Private Risk Services. Andrea works with successful individuals and their families on creating and customizing package insurance solutions in the areas of luxury homes, car collections, jewelry, fine arts, watercraft, and personal excess liability. Comments and questions are welcome at apelletier@gulfshoreinsurance.com

Personal Lines How to Prepare for a Wildfire

Each year, thousands of acres of wildland and many homes are destroyed by fires that can erupt at any time of the year from a variety of causes, including arson, lightning, and debris burning. We’ve put together some proactive measures you can take to keep your family and home safe from a wildfire.

Inside your home:

  • Install fire-resistant window treatments. Make sure that your smoke detectors are working and that you have a fire extinguisher in your home.
  • Keep fire-fighting tools handy, such as a ladder, shovel, rake, axe, water bucket, and a hose that is long enough to reach your home and other structures.
  • Install a back-up generator in case electrical power is shut off.
  • Store valuable documents in a fire-resistant safe or bank safety deposit box.

 

Outside your home:

  • Make sure your house address is visible from the street.
  • Trim trees regularly to keep branches at least 15 feet off the ground or 1/3 of the total crown height, whichever is less. Remove branches that hang over the roof or chimney.
  • Create a separation between trees, shrubs, and items that could catch fire, such as patio furniture, and swing sets.
  • Maintain adequately watered ground at least 100 feet from the house if the ground is level and 200 feet from the house if the ground is sloped. Keep grass cut down to a maximum of 4 inches high.
  • Clear a 10-foot area around propane or oil tanks and around your barbeque area.
  • If a wildfire is approaching, clear driveways to accommodate large fire equipment. Make sure no flammable vegetation is within 10 feet on both sides of the driveway and there are no overhanging obstructions within 15 feet. If your property is gated, open the gate to allow fire personnel to access your property.

 

Make sure you have an established emergency evacuation plan for your family and pets in the event that a wildfire begins to endanger your home. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out. We are here to help.

Ron Lazarto, CPRIA is Client Advisor and Partner at Gulfshore Insurance specializing in Private Risk Services. Ron specializes in offering customized property and casualty insurance solutions for successful individuals and their families. Comments and questions are welcome at rlazarto@gulfshoreinsurance.com