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Get schooled on dog bite liability

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Your pets may have pet insurance to keep them healthy. But when it comes to liability for their misdeeds, the financial impact will bite into your wallet.

This is Dog Bite Prevention Week, and the American Veterinary Medical Association reminds us that even nice dogs can bite. Dog bites (and other dog-related injuries) accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claim dollars paid out in 2015, costing in excess of $570 million, according to data from the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) and State Farm®, the largest writer of homeowners insurance in the United States.

Need a no-risk gift? Hot idea is fire extinguisher!

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The quest for the Perfect Holiday Gift can be daunting, especially if you waited this long to start the hunt. Other than giving a loved one cash (which always seems a perfect fit….), giving the gift of safety is an equally safe bet.

This is Home-Cooked Meal Season, Candle-Lighting Season and Keeping the Home Fires Burning Season. So, it is also House Fire Season. Add a live Christmas tree and evergreen-scented candles to the mix, and it’s ever more volatile. Live Christmas trees are easily ignited, serving as kindling for fires that may start elsewhere. December is peak time for home candle fires as well, with many holiday decorations being highly flammable.

Go ahead. Let them label you the Practical Gift Giver. Buy a fire extinguisher. The cook won’t be insulted if you explain your honorable intention was to ensure the house is intact for the next sumptuous meal. While you’re at it, as an extra gift, replace the batteries in your host’s smoke alarm. Or better yet, buy a couple of new ones. The National Fire Protection Association recommends replacing smoke detectors every 10 years.

Homes are being built with more fire-resistant materials, but what’s inside counts. Fire losses are one thing you can control, any time of year.

Independence Day Safety: Focus on “fire” in fireworks

Buying fireworks this week to scare off a flock of egrets grazing in your yard? (Wink, wink) Sure you are — because to buy exploding or flying fireworks just to shoot off in the street on Independence Day is illegal, according to Florida’s fireworks law. Yet, there’s a loophole in Florida law as big as one of those roadside tents run by fireworks vendors; sellers of pyrotechnics get customers to sign a form saying they are using the fireworks to scare off wildlife. Illegal or not, chances are thousands of dollars in fireworks will be going up in smoke in your neighborhood this weekend. Think about the fire and injury risk beforehand, plus your liability, by reviewing fireworks safety tips before you light a match.

Price Optimization: What it is & what it isn’t

Florida regulators issued a memorandum to insurers recently to eliminate the use of something called price optimization. That’s probably an unfamiliar term to most people. It’s interesting that the memo had to define what “price optimization” is in order for insurers to stop doing it. Simply, the memo from the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation was to stop a practice that few insurers are using in the first place and that may actually help lower insurance costs.

Price optimization is a tool that other industries have used for years,

California earthquake shows importance of exercising insurance options

SACRAMENTO, CA — By now, you’ve heard there’s been a 6.0 earthquake in California, the first major quake in more than 20 years. The intensity rivaled past California quakes. I arrived in Napa on Monday afternoon, the day after the quake rattled buildings and nerves. My role here is to help spur recovery by being a resource to answer questions about the claims process and help people understand how their insurance works.

Cancel, nonrenewal have different meanings for insurance

Perhaps you (or someone you know) are among those Floridians who have had the experience of getting a letter from a property insurance company saying it would not be renewing your coverage. And, perhaps, your reaction was to shout something along the lines of, “I’ve been cancelled!” But that’s not what happened. You were not cancelled; your policy was not renewed, and there’s a big difference.