Protect your vehicle, gifts from holiday prowlers 

The hustle and bustle of holiday shopping has begun.  While rushing from store to store, remember you are not the only one looking for a hot deal.  Parking lot thieves are on the prowl, preying on inattentive shoppers and hoping to cash in at your expense.

If you have optional Comprehensive Coverage on your Auto Insurance Policy, your vehicle is covered if it’s stolen.  However, your auto policy will not cover gifts and most personal possessions stolen from your car.  Your Homeownersor Renterspolicy does cover your belongings, including gifts, but only after you pay the deductible, which is usually $250 or more.            

That’s why it’s important to take extra precautions as you shop from store to store and get in and out of your vehicle. Unless it’s permanently attached to your car, most Auto Insurance policies don’t cover your personal belongings. You could save yourself a lot of headaches by taking steps ahead of time to reduce the risk of a break-in.

As you shop, be wary that car prowlers are lurking in parking lots waiting to steal gifts from unattended cars.  Here are a few tips from NW Insurance Council to help you shop safely and worry free:

  • Review your insurance policy and consider adding Comprehensive coverage if you don’t already have it.
  • Whenever possible, store gifts and other valuables in your trunk.  If this isn’t possible, throw a blanket over gifts before you leave your vehicle unattended.
  • Manually lock your vehicle’s doors.  Do not use your remote locking device. Many high-tech thieves have begun using scanning devices to record remote lock frequencies to unlock vehicles. 
  • Double-check to make sure your doors are locked.
  • Don’t go back and forth frequently from stores to your vehicle to unload gifts.  Car prowlers watch for shoppers who leave gifts in their vehicles unattended.
If you have questions about your Homeowners or Renters insurance, check your policy or call your insurance agent or company.  For more information on how to protect your vehicle and gifts from theft, contact NW Insurance Council at (800) 664-4942 or visit
Water Damage: Home maintenance is a key to preventing structural damage, insurance claims

Summer has come to an end and that means fewer fair weather days to work outside. Now is a good time to do some simple, preventative maintenance around your home to protect it from harsh fall and winter weather.

If your home isn’t properly maintained, it could be vulnerable to water damage –one of the most costly Homeowners Insurance claims

Water running or dripping into your home from the outside can rot drywall and support beams, crack foundation walls and cause mold.  Standard Homeowners policies do not cover water damage unless it is the result of a covered peril such as a broken water pipe or water that gets into the home due to a fire or windstorm.  Damage from roof leaks, excessive condensation or poor landscaping is excluded from coverage. 

Nationally, in 2007, water damage, including frozen, burst pipes, accounted for 22 percent of all Homeowners Insurance claims, according to the Insurance Information Institute.  The average claim was $5,531.

The good news is most water-damage losses are easily preventable by taking some simple maintenance steps.  NW Insurance Council and the Institute for Business & Home Safety offer these tips to help you prevent future damage and thousands of dollars in repair costs:
  • Inspect your roof.  Remove leaves, branches and debris from gutters to prevent water blockage and possible run-off into the home.
  • If you find a leak, clean and dry the exposed area and fix the problem immediately.
  • Routinely inspect ceilings, walls, floors and windowsills for water stains, discoloration and musty odors.
  • Routinely inspect attics, vents, ducts, washer hoses and outside water sources for leaks.
  • Check and replace heating system air filters.
  • Properly ventilate bathrooms and kitchens to prevent a moisture buildup.
  • Use high quality silicone caulk to seal areas where cables or pipes exit walls, such as around clothes dryers, kitchen or bathroom vents and outdoor electrical outlets. 
  • Routinely caulk bathtubs, sinks, tile walls and floors to prevent water seepage.
  • To reduce flooding from poor drainage or excessive rainfall, clear outside drains of debris and make sure your lot’s grading directs water away from buildings.
For free brochures, Protect Your Home From Water Damage and Maintenance Guide For Your Home, contact NW Insurance Council at (800) 664-4942.

NW Insurance Council is a nonprofit, public-education organization funded by member insurance companies serving Washington, Oregon and