Posts Tagged July

Avoid Unnecessary Sparks this Fourth of July

With the Fourth of July quickly approaching, insurance is probably the last thing on most Americans’ minds. Even more so for business owners, who, more than likely, are taking the day off to spend the holiday with family and friends.

shutterstock_59893483However, the truth is, there are more than $35 million per year in fire damages nationally due to fireworks and decorations associated with fireworks. In addition, thousands of people flood emergency rooms each year from injuries caused by fireworks. While most of these incidents occur on the home front, we know that what happens at home can and does inadvertently impact the commercial side of life.

At UIG, we feel the Fourth of July should be a time spent in celebration, not waiting in line for hours at the emergency room or spending all night on the phone with the insurance company. So we’ve pulled together a list of some important steps that your clients can take to help prevent accidents and unnecessary insurance claims:

Be proactive, expect the unexpected

Anytime a major holiday is drawing near is the right time to reach out to your clients and offer to review their insurance policies to help identify any weak areas and options for filling those gaps. It’s not uncommon for business owners to plan what would be classified as a “special event” without touching base with their insurance agent/broker, to find out if their current policy is sufficient to cover their social function.

It’s also a good idea to remind your clients to read over their home or rental insurance policy. They need to be in-the-know of what’s covered on this end of the spectrum regarding medical and property. Medical bills can quickly pile-up and some insurance policies won’t cover preventable injuries like those caused by illegal activity.

Alcohol + fireworks is an explosive combination

The Fourth of July happens to be the No. 1 season for drunk driving incidents. The holiday has repeatedly ranked as the deadliest holiday of the year — even deadlier than New Year’s Day.

It’s important that clients keep in mind that, if a guest or third party is injured in an accident that is related to alcohol consumption, and the drinking can be linked to a business, the business, and potentially its owner, could be held responsible. Legal costs could include payment of medical bills, vehicle repair costs, lost time from work and — in the worst case — claims for wrongful death resulting in huge monetary settlements.

Pay attention to local laws and regulations

Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them. If they are legal, avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper, because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.

And, although tempting (just the kind of stuff that water cooler sagas are made from) stay away from illegal fireworks. They are illegal for a reason and are more dangerous than other types. A ticket for using an illegal firework could mean a hike in homeowner’s premiums.

When in doubt, the safest bet is to leave fireworks to the pros. Many communities have public fireworks displays run by professionals. Not only is it safer, but many of these shows have several free activities and food for the kids.

On the home front

  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks. Parents may not realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees — hot enough to melt some metals.
  • If dad, or Uncle Larry, is determined to produce his own firework show, have as few people around the lighting area as possible and read all warning labels and directions before lighting up. This will prevent unnecessary and avoidable injury.
  • Avoid areas of dry leaves or grass, and ensure that there are no tree overhangs or gutters nearby. Gutters are common trouble areas that are often overlooked. One rogue firework landing in a gutter filled with dry leaves and the whole house can quickly go up in flames.
  • Make sure to decorate with safety in mind. Leave decorations to a minimum in the area around the firework show. If decorations are lined with small fireworks, make sure to handle them safely.
  • If a firework fails to perform, leave it alone and back away from it. Sometimes what seems like a dud is actually just a late-bloomer and could go off at any second. Give a “dud” time and let it cool off before handling.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher or water source handy. A bucket filled with water is a great alternative when not near a water source.
  • Keep kids and pets a safe distance away and within eyesight at all times.

While a lot of this seems like common sense, it’s amazing what you can forget in the excitement of the moment. By reminding your clients of these simple tips, you can help save them a headache or heartbreak this Fourth of July.

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