Safeguard your home from devastating Kelowna wildfires

Essential Tips to Prepare for Another Season of Kelowna Wildfires

Safeguard your home from devastating Kelowna wildfires. Learn essential tips to be prepared and stay protected.

Wildfire season looms once again in BC and in our region. With evidence of small Kelowna wildfires already reported at this point in the season, residents of Kelowna need to understand the importance of being prepared.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is urging homeowners to get their homes ready for wildfire season is a timely reminder of the potential risks we face. With the devastation of the Traders Cove during the McDougall Creek wildfire of August 2023, preparedness is critical.

Rob de Pruis, national director of Consumer and Industry Relations at IBC, states, “As reported by the BC Wildfire Service, there are more than 90 active wildfires across the province, with many still burning from last year’s record-breaking season. The 2023 wildfire season was the most destructive in British Columbia’s history, and 2024 has the potential to be another intense wildfire year.”

Here’s how you can help ensure your home is wildfire-ready:

Year-round preparedness

  • Install and Maintain Alarms: Smoke and CO alarms are your first line of defence. Ensure they are installed, dust-free, and equipped with fresh batteries. Regular testing and replacement every 10 years are crucial for optimal performance.
  • Emergency Plan and Kit: Develop a comprehensive evacuation plan for your family and pets, and practise it regularly. Additionally, assemble a disaster safety kit containing essentials like food, water, pet crate and important documents.
  • Insurance Coverage Review: Familiarize yourself with your insurance policy, including coverage details and claim procedures. Keep your policy number and insurer’s contact information readily accessible for swift action in case of damage or evacuation.

Precautionary measures for areas at high risk for Kelowna wildfires

  • Home Preparation: Safeguard your home by ensuring roofs, exterior walls, and balconies are treated with flame-resistant materials. This proactive step can significantly mitigate fire risks.
  • Proper Storage: Keep flammable materials such as gasoline and solvents at least 10 metres away from your home to minimize ignition risks.
  • Debris Management: Regularly remove dry leaves, debris, and combustible garbage from around your property, especially if you have wood or vinyl siding.
  • Space Management: Maintain a clear zone of at least 10 metres around your home by removing shrubs, trees, and woodpiles. This helps create a defensible space that can deter wildfire spread.

Stay Informed and Vigilant

  • Weather Monitoring: Stay abreast of weather updates and fire danger ratings from local and provincial sources. Timely information empowers proactive decision-making.
  • Adherence to Bans and Restrictions: Obey fire bans and restrictions to prevent accidental ignitions. Your cooperation plays a crucial role in mitigating wildfire risks within our community.

With severe weather events causing substantial insured losses, the need for climate resilience is more pressing than ever. Proactive measures can significantly reduce the impact of wildfires on homes and communities. We can better protect our families and properties from potential devastation by implementing the recommended steps and staying vigilant throughout the wildfire season.

Remember, being prepared today ensures having a safer tomorrow. Is your home wildfire ready? Kelowna Valley Insurance is here to help you safeguard your home against wildfire risks with comprehensive coverage and expert guidance.

CONTACT US today to learn more about our insurance solutions tailored to your needs. Stay safe, stay prepared!

Money-Saving Tips for Winter Weather

Money-Saving Tips for Winter Weather: Protecting Your Home and Wallet!

Prepare for the challenges of winter weather with our expert tips! Save money and stay cozy with greater peace of mind.

The arrival of winter weather brings with it the beauty of snowfall and cozy evenings by the fireplace. As beautiful and fun as the season is, it can also bring the possibility for expensive surprises, especially in your home. As the temperature drops, the risk of frozen pipes, increased heating costs, and other winter-related expenses can skyrocket.

That said, we have some valuable money-saving tips to share! Revel in the joy and exhilaration of the season, knowing that there are things you can do to help you protect your home and your wallet.

  1. Better insulate your home

One of the most effective ways to save money during the winter freeze is to ensure your home is properly insulated. Poor insulation can lead to heat loss, causing your heating system to work overtime, which in turn can inflate your energy bills. To prevent this, consider:

  • Adding insulation to your attic and walls.
  • Sealing gaps around windows and doors with weather stripping.
  • Installing a programmable thermostat to regulate your home’s temperature efficiently.

Drafts and air leaks allow precious heat to escape from your home. This heat loss makes your heating system work harder. Perform a thorough inspection of your home and seal any gaps or cracks. You can use caulk or weatherstripping to seal leaks around doors and windows. This simple step can lead to substantial energy savings.

  1. Service your heating system

A well-maintained heating system operates more efficiently and costs less to run. Before winter sets in, have your heating system serviced by a professional HVAC technician. They can clean and inspect your furnace or heat pump, replace filters, and ensure everything is in working order. Regular maintenance not only saves you money but also extends the lifespan of your heating equipment.

  1. Beat the winter weather – consider a heat pump retrofit

While most of us in BC enjoy sustainable energy to heat our homes, hydroelectric power can still up during the colder months. And with the costs of propane marching steadily upward, home heating expenses are a consistent source of stress for many British Columbians.

Fortunately, as Canadians and residents of BC specifically, we have some great programs available to replace your old and inefficient furnace with a heat pump. Heat pumps are energy-efficient heating and cooling systems that can provide significant savings on your energy bills. They work by extracting heat from the outside air (even in cold weather) and transferring it into your home, making them a great option for more efficient and comfortable winter heating.

Retrofit grants for heat pump installation

Replacing your furnace with a heat pump can be a significant investment, but there are retrofit grants and incentives available to help offset the cost. In Kelowna and the surrounding areas, you can take advantage of various government and utility-sponsored programs that encourage the adoption of energy-efficient technologies. Here are some options to explore:

  • BC Hydro rebates: BC Hydro offers rebates for the installation of high-efficiency heat pumps. Depending on the type and efficiency of the system, you may qualify for substantial rebates to make the switch more affordable.
  • FortisBC rebates: FortisBC also provides incentives for upgrading to energy-efficient heating solutions, including heat pumps. Their rebates can help reduce the upfront cost of installation.
  • Government grants: There are provincial and federal government grants available for energy-efficient home upgrades. These grants can vary, but they often aim to promote energy conservation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Investing in a heat pump not only lowers your winter heating bills but also contributes to a more sustainable and eco-friendly home.

  1. Prevent frozen pipes

Frozen pipes are a common and costly problem during winter. To avoid the headache and expenses associated with burst pipes, take the following precautions:

  • Insulate exposed pipes.
  • Keep your home adequately heated, even when you’re away.
  • Let interior faucets drip slowly to keep water moving.
  • Know where your main water shut-off valve is located.
  1. Winterize your garden and outdoor spaces

Don’t forget about your outdoors at the onset of the winter freeze. Taking the time to prepare your garden, patio, and other outdoor spaces will save you money and frustration in the long run. Here’s what you can do:

  • Trim tree branches to prevent them from falling on your home during winter storms.
  • Clean out your gutters to prevent ice dams.
  • Store outdoor furniture and equipment properly to prolong their lifespan.
  1. Use energy-efficient lighting

Winter means shorter days and longer nights. Consequently, we increase our energy consumption just with our lighting alone. Consider switching to energy-efficient LED bulbs, which use significantly less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs. Additionally, make it a habit to turn off lights when not in use to further reduce your electricity bills.

  1. Invest in a fireplace insert

Many of us love wintertime purely because of the joy and satisfaction of using our fireplaces.  However, if you have a wood-burning fireplace, consider installing a fireplace insert. Fireplace inserts are more efficient at heating your home than traditional fireplaces, as they trap and circulate warm air. This can reduce your reliance on your central heating system and lower your energy bills.

  1. Create a winter emergency kit

Prepare for winter emergencies by creating a kit that includes essential supplies like flashlights, batteries, blankets, and non-perishable food items. Being prepared can save you money on last-minute purchases during a power outage or severe winter storm.

We want you to enjoy our winters as much as possible. Saving money during these colder months will make winter just that much more pleasurable. By taking proactive measures to protect your home and reduce energy consumption, you can revel in the winter freeze without breaking the bank.

Do you have questions about protecting your home and home insurance? Kelowna Valley Insurance is here to provide you with valuable advice and coverage to safeguard your home and finances throughout the winter season. Stay warm and worry-free! TALK TO US.

Replacement Value of Your Home

Replacement Value of Your Home – How It’s Determined

Understand how we determine the replacement value of your home. Ensure your property is protected with the right insurance coverage.

The current Canadian real estate market is a volatile one. Right now we hear constant chatter about bubbles, corrections, and even crashes – unsettling to say the least. In this climate how can you possibly know the replacement value of your home in the event of a loss. Fortunately, that’s what we’re here for!

When it comes to home insurance, replacement value is one of the crucial factors that determines your coverage and premiums. But how do insurance companies determine this value? To help you better understand, let us dive into the key factors and methods that we use to calculate the replacement value of a home.

Replacement value – what is it?

Before we delve into the details, it’s important to understand the definition of replacement value. Also known as the replacement cost, replacement value is the estimated cost to rebuild your home from the ground up if it’s completely destroyed or severely damaged. This cost includes materials of similar like kind and quality, labour, and any additional expenses necessary to recreate your home exactly as it was before the loss.

Factors that influence replacement value

There are a number of components included to accurately assess and determine how much it will cost to replace your home. They include:

Square footage and structure: The size and structure of your home play a huge role in determining the cost of your home’s replacement. Not surprisingly, bigger homes with more intricate design details will typically have higher replacement costs.
Materials: The type and quality of materials used in your home’s construction matter. Premium materials will result in a higher replacement cost.
Location: The cost of labour and materials can vary depending on your location. Areas with higher construction costs will have a higher replacement value.
Local building codes: Building codes can change over time. If your home doesn’t meet the current codes, ensuring that you are conforming to up-to-date standards can increase the replacement value.
Amenities and features: If you have special features such as custom kitchens, high-end appliances, and other luxury amenities, it can significantly impact replacement costs.

Methodology used to determine replacement costs

The methodology to calculate the replacement value of your home includes the careful consideration of various factors:

1. Cost estimators: Insurance companies often employ cost estimation software that factors in square footage, materials, and regional construction costs to provide a more accurate replacement value.
2. Home inspections: Insurers may conduct home inspections to assess the condition of your property and consider any upgrades or improvements that can affect the replacement value.
3. Appraisals: In some cases, an independent appraiser may be hired to determine the replacement value based on a detailed assessment of your home’s features and condition.

Why an accurate value calculation is important

Providing an accurate replacement value for your home is critical for several reasons:

1. Adequate coverage: It ensures that you have enough insurance coverage to fully rebuild your home if a disaster occurs.
2. Premium accuracy: Insurance premiums are based on the replacement value. An accurate value helps you pay the right amount for your coverage.
3. Peace of mind: Knowing that your home is adequately insured provides peace of mind in the event of a catastrophic loss.

Understanding how insurance companies determine the replacement value of your home is essential for homeowners. It’s not a one-size-fits-all calculation but rather a complex process that considers a range of important factors. To ensure you have the right coverage, it’s crucial to communicate openly with your insurance agent. Additionally, update your policy as needed and regularly review your coverage to account for any changes in your home’s value or structure.

Stay informed and proactive to protect your most valuable asset. Ensure that you have the necessary financial support to rebuild your home in the event of a disaster. Questions about a Homeowner’s Insurance Policy? Talk to us!

Online Business Commercial Insurance

My Online Business – Do I Need Commercial Insurance?

Secure the success of your online business with adequate insurance. Safeguard against risks and boost credibility.

In today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, particularly in the wake of COVID-19, the rise of online businesses is nothing short of remarkable.

From e-commerce stores to freelance services, the opportunities to set up shop on the Internet are vast. However, as you embark on your journey to establish and grow your online business, you might wonder if commercial insurance is necessary.

To help, let’s delve into the world of online business insurance. We’ll explore why it matters and how it can safeguard your entrepreneurial dreams.

The online business landscape

British Columbia is a province known for its entrepreneurial spirit and thriving tech ecosystem. The province boasts many online businesses, ranging from local artisans selling crafts to tech startups creating innovative solutions.

Whether you’re based in Vancouver, Victoria, or any other corner of BC, the allure of the digital marketplace is hard to resist.

The myth of business online equals risk-free

One common misconception among online business owners is that operating in the virtual realm exempts them from the risks associated with traditional brick-and-mortar stores. Unfortunately, this notion couldn’t be further from the truth. While the risks might differ, they are still very much present.

Consider the following scenarios:

  1. Product liability: If you’re selling physical goods online, there’s always a chance that a product could be defective or cause harm to a customer. Commercial insurance can provide protection against potential lawsuits and claims arising from such incidents.
  2. Data breaches: Data breaches are a real concern in the digital age. If your online business collects customer data, such as payment information or personal details, you could be held liable in case of a breach. Commercial insurance can cover the costs of handling data breaches and any resulting legal actions.
  3. Professional liability: If your online business offers services or advice, mistakes can still happen. Professional liability insurance, also known as errors and omissions insurance, can help cover legal expenses if clients allege that your services caused them financial loss.
  4. Business interruption: Just like any other business, your online operations could be disrupted by unforeseen events, such as natural disasters or technical failures. Business interruption insurance can provide financial assistance during periods when your business cannot operate as usual.

Why commercial insurance matters for online businesses

  1. Legal protection: Operating without insurance exposes your online business to legal and financial risks. A single lawsuit could potentially bankrupt your venture. Commercial insurance acts as a safety net, allowing you to focus on growing your business with peace of mind.
  2. Credibility and trust: Having the right insurance coverage conveys to your customers that you’re a legitimate and responsible business. It builds trust and confidence, which are crucial for attracting and retaining customers.
  3. Compliance and contracts: In some cases, partners, clients, or platforms might require proof of insurance before engaging in business with you. Having the necessary coverage ensures you can meet these requirements and seize valuable opportunities.

Protection Against Building Damage and Wildfires

In our stunning BC landscapes, as we have seen firsthand throughout the province this summer, the threat of wildfires and natural disasters cannot be ignored.

While your business may not have a physical presence, these events can still impact your operations. Wildfires can cause power outages, disrupt supply chains, and affect online services. Moreover, if you work from a physical location or store inventory, building damage due to fires, storms, or accidents remains a concern.

Tailoring coverage to your business

Not all online businesses are the same, and that’s where customizable insurance coverage comes into play. When seeking commercial insurance for your online business, consider the following options:

  1. General liability insurance: Provides coverage for bodily injury, property damage, and advertising injury claims.
  2. Cyber liability insurance: Protects against losses resulting from data breaches, hacking, and other cyber incidents.
  3. Product liability insurance: Essential if you sell physical products online, this coverage shields you from claims related to product defects or injuries caused by your products.
  4. Professional liability insurance: Ideal for service-based online businesses, this coverage safeguards against claims of negligence or errors in your services.

As you set out to build and expand your online business in British Columbia, it’s clear that commercial insurance is not just a luxury – it’s a strategic necessity. The digital realm might offer a different landscape, but risks are still part of the entrepreneurial journey. Secure the right insurance coverage, and you protect your business and position yourself for growth, credibility, and better success in the online marketplace.

Take the proactive step today to ensure that your online business thrives, regardless of the challenges that may arise along the way. Questions about Commercial Insurance for your online business? CONTACT US!

Your Guide to RV Insurance in BC

Your Guide to RV Insurance in BC: Safeguard Your Wheels for Your Road Trip Adventures!

RV insurance in BC: your ticket to worry-free adventures, enjoying breathtaking landscapes and destinations wherever the road takes you!

Summer is here! Are you an adventurous spirit who loves hitting the open road in your RV? Yes? Well, you probably already understand the importance of protecting your valuable investment with comprehensive insurance coverage.

When it comes to RV insurance in BC, the picturesque landscapes of the Okanagan, our province, Canada and beyond attract RV-driving outdoor enthusiasts. That’s why we want to provide you with essential insights to ensure you enjoy your RV adventures worry-free. Discover how to safeguard your home away from home – hit the road with peace of mind!

Understanding RV insurance in BC

British Columbia and many other regions around Canada are dream destinations for RV enthusiasts. Our beautiful nation boasts endless stunning landscapes and exciting outdoor activities. Navigating the unique challenges of Canada requires a tailored insurance policy. At Kelowna Valley Insurance, we understand BC-specific or more rurally oriented considerations. Unique potential risks include wildlife encounters, road conditions, and weather events. We can help you choose coverage that protects against these risks.

The fact is, RV insurance is not your typical auto insurance. RVs encompass a wide range of vehicles, including motorhomes, travel trailers, fifth wheels, and camper vans. Therefore, it is vital to understand the unique coverage options and considerations that come with insuring these versatile vehicles. It’s important to speak to your broker about the different types of RVs and their insurance requirements. Before you hit the road, feel empowered that you’ve made the most informed RV insurance decisions, suiting both your needs and budget.

Prepare yourself for the unexpected! Ensure you have the right insurance coverage to enjoy nature’s breathtaking beauty in BC and beyond.

Tailoring coverage to protect your RV investment

Your RV is not only a means of transportation but also a home on wheels. As such, it requires specialized coverage to protect against various risks such as accidents, theft, and natural disasters. Your broker will discuss key coverage options. These include liability insurance, comprehensive coverage, collision coverage, personal property coverage, and roadside assistance. By customizing your insurance policy to suit your RV and lifestyle, you can safeguard your investment and enjoy your travels worry-free.

Understanding discount opportunities

Saving money on RV insurance is always a plus, and there are several discount opportunities available. Ask about potential discounts such as safe driver discounts, multi-policy discounts, and store discounts. Additionally, periodic policy reviews are important. A review ensures you know about the most current discounts and promotions offered by your insurance provider. Find out how you can maximize savings while maintaining comprehensive coverage for your RV.

Choosing the right insurance provider

Embarking on RV adventures, no matter where the scenic wonders, should be a thrilling and worry-free experience. By understanding the ins and outs of RV insurance in BC and tailoring your coverage to meet your specific needs, you can travel with confidence and protect your investment.

Choose an insurance provider that offers comprehensive coverage, excellent customer service, and valuable discounts. Kelowna Valley Insurance is here to help you prepare to explore the magnificent landscapes of BC and beyond, knowing you have the right insurance coverage to keep your RV adventures smooth and stress-free!

Boat Insurance in BC what you need to know

Boat Insurance in BC – What You Need to Know

Helping you navigate our beautiful waters this summer: a comprehensive guide to Boat insurance in BC

When it comes to protecting your valuable assets, few things are as important as having the right insurance coverage. Whether you’re a proud boat owner or considering purchasing a vessel in beautiful British Columbia, understanding boat insurance is crucial.

Know as much as possible! We want to provide you with the essentials of boat insurance in BC, arming you with all the information you need to make informed decisions about protecting your maritime investment.

  1. The importance of boat insurance:

Boating in BC comes with its own set of risks. These include damage from accidents, theft, natural disasters, and liability for bodily injury or property damage. Boat insurance helps to mitigate these risks and provides vital financial protection.

While BC law does not mandate boat insurance, most marinas and lending institutions require it. Moreover, having boat insurance ensures that you’re prepared for any unforeseen circumstances. Coverage provides you peace of mind while you’re out on the water.

The statistics about boating in BC highlight the importance of having boat insurance. Some relevant numbers:

  1. Data from Transport Canada reveals that between 2015 and 2019, there were an average of 150 reported boating accidents each year in BC.
  2. The most common types of boating accidents in BC include collisions with other vessels, grounding or striking objects, and capsizing or swamping.
  3. The Canadian Red Cross reported that BC had the highest number of boating-related fatalities among all provinces in Canada from 2009 to 2018.
  4. According to the BC Coroners Service, there were 84 boating-related deaths in BC between 2010 and 2019.
  5. In 2019 alone, there were 12 fatal boating accidents in BC, resulting in 15 deaths.
  6. The BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure states that alcohol consumption is a significant factor in boating accidents, contributing to 40% of all fatal incidents.

These statistics emphasize the potential risks and dangers associated with boating in our province. When you have boat insurance, however, you have financial protection. You have vital coverage in the event of accidents, property damage, or liability claims. The result is peace of mind for boat owners and their families.

  1. Types of boat insurance in BC:

a) Property coverage: This type of coverage protects your boat against physical damage. Whether the cause is an accident, theft, vandalism, fire, or natural disaster, you’re covered. This insurance typically covers repairs or replacement costs for your boat, its motor, equipment, and accessories.

b) Liability coverage: Liability insurance is crucial. It protects you in case you cause an accident that results in bodily injury or property damage to others. It covers legal fees, medical expenses, and property repairs or replacements.

c) Uninsured/underinsured boater coverage: This coverage protects you if you’re involved in an accident with a boater who doesn’t have insurance or whose coverage is insufficient. It helps cover medical expenses and property damage that the at-fault boater should have paid for.

d) Medical payments coverage: This coverage helps pay for medical expenses resulting from an accident, regardless of fault. It can cover expenses such as hospital bills, ambulance fees, and necessary follow-up treatments.

  1. Factors influencing boat insurance premiums:

a) Boat type and value: The type of boat you own and its value are significant factors in determining your insurance premium. Generally, high-value boats or boats with high-performance capabilities may have higher premiums.

b) Boating experience: Insurance companies often consider the boating experience of the owner. More experience typically results in lower premiums.

c) Usage and navigation area: The way you use your boat and the geographic area where you navigate play a role in determining premiums. Factors such as distance from shore, intended use (pleasure, commercial, racing), and navigation in challenging waters can affect insurance costs.

d) Safety features and equipment: Boats equipped with safety features such as fire extinguishers, navigational equipment, and anti-theft systems may qualify for lower premiums.

  1. Additional considerations:

a) Deductibles: A deductible is the amount you must pay out of pocket before your insurance coverage kicks in. Higher deductibles may result in lower premiums, but it’s important to choose a deductible that you can comfortably afford in the event of a claim.

b) Agreed value vs. actual cash value: When insuring your boat, you can choose between an agreed value or actual cash value policy. An agreed value policy covers the boat for an agreed-upon amount, whereas an actual cash value policy factors in depreciation, resulting in a lower payout in case of a claim.

c) Discounts: Many insurance companies offer discounts for various reasons. These include bundling policies, completing boating safety courses, or having a claims-free history. It’s worth exploring these options to potentially lower your premiums.

kelowna valley insurance insurance - Hazards of Hot Work

Hot Work Hazards – Are You Protected From Potential Losses?!

Does your business perform hot work? Make sure you’re covered in the face of various serious hazards and potential losses.

If we talk about the leading causes of fire in our country, among the top three reasons for mid-size industrial or commercial property losses is due to hot work activities on the premises.

For the uninitiated, hot work is any occupation that includes work with sources of ignition – welding, soldering, grinding, cutting, etc. – close to flammable or combustible materials. These include flammable gases or liquids, sawdust, and wood structures, for example. When you work with a source of ignition near these materials, which for many businesses is often inevitable, there’s a greater risk of fire or even possibly explosion.

Not surprisingly, there are inherent hazards associated with spark-producing operations. And it accounts for significant losses to and of property every year. But, the loss is preventable. There are effective safety protocols and procedures that, if in place and utilized effectively and with consistency, can help reduce the hazards significantly.

Never underestimate the hazard of one small spark!

If your business involves frequently working with sources of ignition – hot work – chances are you already have a designated area where the activities take place. Why a designated location? Because it takes but one small spark to cause devastation.

Only one spark can cause a fire that destroys equipment and property, not to mention the costly interruption of business, causing the loss of jobs and revenue. Even worse, a fire caused by a simple spark puts lives at risk. After a devastating fire, as the business tries to recover, it can lose valuable customers to its competitors in the same market. It only takes a moment for a fire to take hold, yet the damage can be overwhelmingly long-term.

Reduce the possible risks of hot work

Don’t think that a stray spark immediately turns into a devastating fire. Not at all. In fact, it will sit for hours in a hospitable, flammable environment and smoulder until it comes to life hours after your team has left for the night.

That’s when the destruction occurs unhindered.

That said, there are best practices to ensure that spark-producing activities don’t result in an unseen spark left to grow into a fire:

  • Check all equipment to ensure that they are properly operational before you do any work.
  • Inspect the hot work area thoroughly before any work begins. Are there flammable or combustible materials or surfaces close to the work area (walls, beams, posts, partitions, ceilings, etc.)? If so, cover them with a material that is fire-resistant and heat-insulating to prevent them from overheating and igniting.
  • Check that you have fire extinguishers nearby, within easy access, and are functional.
  • Use all recommended personal protective devices. They should be easy to access and available at the worksite. Train your staff on how to use them and that they are always clean and stored safely and appropriately.

Inspect the work zone for flammables and combustibles

  • Keep all combustibles away from the zone of hot work as much as possible.
  • If you can’t clear combustibles out of the area, cover them with fire-resistant blankets or shields. Cover or shield any equipment and gas lines in the space from stray and airborne hot debris or sparks.
  • Keep the floor of the work area and surroundings tidy of any combustible materials. If the floors are potentially combustible, try to keep them damp or cover them with fire-resistant blankets. NOTE: To prevent electrical shock, don’t use water if electrical circuits are energized.
  • Sparks must stay out of any ducting. Keep duct openings or other ductwork clean of combustible debris. Seal any cracks in ducts. If there are cracks in ducts, seal them. Cover any duct openings with a fire-resistant barrier.
  • Clean up spilt grease, oil, or other flammable liquids.
  • Keep a well-stocked first-aid kit nearby and easy to access.
  • Learn about more best practices HERE.

A dedicated fire watch is critical

An appropriately and safely prepared hot work zone includes a dedicated fire watch when the spark-producing activity is complete. After any work that produces heat and sparks – welding, soldering, grinding, etc.

For the hours that follow any flammable work, assign a team member to inspect the zone and surrounding area for sparks, visible and hidden, that could settle and smoulder to ignition. Missing an inspection after hot work poses a potentially catastrophic hazard. Pay a relevantly trained employee to keep an eye on the area – a worthwhile expense given the destruction and cost if you don’t.

If you can’t keep a dedicated fire watch for the hot work zone, limit hot work to earlier in the day as much as possible. That should give time to find any stray sparks smouldering during working hours. Monitor for about one to four hours after the work’s completion.

Use a hot work permit

A hot work permit protocol helps to reduce the associated hazards. A helpful and essential two-part tag system, the hot work permit requires the worker to complete a safety checklist before they perform any hot work, even beyond your dedicated hot work zones. At the beginning of any hot work, they affix one part of the two-part tag close to their work area. It remains there until the fire watch is complete. The other portion stays on file, audited by management.

The permit system ensures the individual performing the hot work follows the appropriate safety protocols. It requires they sign off on a checklist before working and after the fire watch is complete. A hot work permit is available for purchase from most retailers of safety supplies.

Spark-producing activities safety program

Include a safety program specific to spark-producing operations in your larger safety program. It should include the use of hot work permits. The safety protocols include all spark-producing operations that occur onsite, no matter who does it, your staff or third-party contractors.

Don’t make it complicated! The hot work part of your plan is only a page or two to identify the unique safety specifics pertaining to spark-producing activities.

We specialize in group and union member insurance.  If you are an existing or retired union member in BC, we can get you the best rates.

Wondering if your business doing hot work might impact your commercial insurance? Talk to us!

Safe RV Driving – How to Stay Alert and Focused kelowna valley insurance

Safe RV Driving – How to Stay Alert and Focused

Heading out on your winter road trip? Be safe – RV driving is all about staying alert and focused.

Frightening fact: simply reading or sending a text message takes your eyes off the road for five seconds. Seem like nothing? At a speed of 90 km/h, that’s the equivalent of driving the length of a football field – with your eyes closed!

We want you to get excited about your upcoming winter RV trip and we want you to get to your destination safe and sound! We assume you’re not driving your rig like a maniac, so staying alert and focused is really what it’s all about when it comes to safe RV driving.

There is a multitude of distractions when you spend hours every day on the road. And they can be dangerous. The most recent estimates indicate that driver distraction may be responsible for 20-30% of all automobile collisions – over 1000 injuries and fatal motor vehicle accidents every year. Distracted drivers are eight times more likely to be in a crash or near accident compared with undistracted drivers.

Talking on a mobile phone or texting is still a problem, despite evidence showing how dangerous it is. But there is any number of activities we do while behind the wheel that can present a dangerous risk. As you make your plans for your winter road trip escape, consider the following ways you can eliminate distractions and make safe RV driving a priority:

Organization is key – before you drive!

Safe RV driving requires that you decide on your route before you get started on the road each day. Program the GPS. Adjust your seats, mirrors, and radio before you roll out of the driveway. Be sure that any loose items – water bottles, for instance – are stowed securely to prevent them from rolling around. And you reaching for them.

Reserve your first several nights ahead of time so you don’t have to worry about it once you’re on the road.

Be sure that your passengers, including children, are also stowed and ready to go. That includes any furry friends! If they do need attention, pull over and stop to address their needs. Reaching behind you can easily cause you to lose control of the automobile.

Silence electronics

By now, we’re all well aware of the dangers of using a mobile device while driving. But, so many of us continue to sneak a peek at an incoming text or program the phone’s GPS while on the road. When your phone chimes, it’s just too tempting to take a look to see who or what it is.

Do not use your mobile device when you’re driving. Put it in ‘do not disturb’ mode to help you avoid the temptation of checking it. Even at stoplights. If for no other reason than because, in some places, law enforcement may ticket you if they witness you using your phone at a traffic light. Bluetooth and voice commands should help you if you need to make a hands-free call or text while on the road BUT that is still a distraction. Your hands might be on the wheel, but your attention is no longer on the road. Use them only when absolutely necessary.

Avoid multitasking while driving

We know that you do the best you can at safe RV driving. But when you spend that much time on the road, it can be tempting to try to get little things done while you drive – book appointments, reserve that night’s camp spot or table at a restaurant, catch up with friends and family. Avoid it as best you can. If you must take care of those things, pull over at a safe location and stop. Or, let a passenger take care of it as you drive. You need to focus on the road and the other vehicles around you.

Don’t eat and drive

Let’s face it, we all do it. We don’t really think about it interfering with our focus on driving. But it can – easily. Spilt food or drink is a major cause of distraction. Unwrapping, unsealing, and arranging in your lap or in a cup holder; these activities take your attention off the road. Sometimes for an extended time.

Safe RV driving – passengers matter

Enjoy the company of your passengers, but also, don’t be afraid to task them. Let them answer a text or call. They can reprogram the GPS.

Keep the chit-chat light and easy. Difficult or emotional conversations can become a serious distraction, even a dangerous one.

Don’t drive while drowsy

It may seem obvious, but the fact is, we’ve all pushed through fatigue while driving. We shouldn’t. According to the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, drowsiness is responsible for 21% of motor vehicle accidents in Canada. It’s as big a problem as driving impaired or with a mobile phone in your hand.

When you drive drowsy, your reaction time is slower and your decision-making is compromised – more impulsive and less rational. When you are fatigued while driving, your vision can become blurred and you can be more sensitive to light. Additionally, your focus diminishes and it’s easier to get confused.

What can you do?

  • Stop the RV and park in a safe location. Put the seat back and take a quick nap – 15 minutes is often adequate to refresh you for driving further. This is probably the tactic with the most impact.
  • To amplify the effects of your break, drink a caffeinated beverage right before your snooze. After your rest, the caffeine should have begun to take effect.
  • Get out of your RV for a few minutes. Stretch your legs and take in some vital fresh air.

Enjoy your upcoming RV vacation. And be safe!

Do you have questions about travel insurance or insuring your recreational vehicle? TALK TO US!

Recent Home Renovations - Update Your Broker

Recent Home Renovations? Be Sure to Update Your Broker!

Have you performed recent home renovations? You should update your insurance broker to ensure that you have adequate home coverage.

Contrary to what many of us thought would have happened during the course of a global pandemic, chances are, a run on home renovations would NOT have been on the list!

But, lo and behold, as we all hunkered down at home, the state of our homes came under far more scrutiny. Not to mention, our need to create spaces in our houses that could better accommodate the increased demand for work, school, and everything else under a single roof.

As of spring, 2021, 1 in 2 Canadians either made major home renovations or were making plans to do so. 1 in 4 had already completed at least some upgrades. And, of those who renovated, over 14% of them claimed it was on impulse. That’s a lot of sudden upgrades to many homes. The question is, did these impulse home renovators update their home policies with their material changes?  

Have you done recent home renovations? Have you updated your homeowner’s policy to reflect the changes?

The cost of your home renovations matter

To maintain coverage provisions, policies identify that you to tell your broker if you spend $5000 or more. For those home improvements that were done rather quickly, it wasn’t unusual for homeowners to not check their policies before launching the work. 

Changes such as finishing a basement or building an addition can change the rebuild value of your home and, as a result, impact your insurance coverage. Across Canada, 13% of home renovations ranged from $5,000-$10,000, 6% cost between $10,000–$20,000, and 7% exceeded $20,000. Approximately 26% of home improvements in Canada cost $5,000 or more, meeting the bar for updating a homeowner’s policy. And, an interesting fact, remote workers working from home spent an average of $1,000 more on their home renovations. 

The question is how many of these Canadian homeowners claimed them with their insurance brokers. 

Keep your insurance broker in the home improvement loop!

The exact data on whether homeowners updated their home insurance policies isn’t yet confirmed, but if the numbers from a decade ago are any indication, chances are, no. In 2013 only 6% of British Columbians said they’d reviewed their homeowner’s policies before they began their renovations. The same number of Ontario homeowners and only 5% of Albertans preemptively checked into their insurance.

Respectively, only 17%, 14% and 13% of homeowners in those provinces followed up with their insurance providers after they completed the work on their homes. 

Among the homeowners who made improvements to their homes in 2021, over half added to or enhanced their backyards, 29% added to their home offices, 23% improved their basements with an entertainment area, 12% added new playrooms, and 3% built additions. 

Do you have other questions about recent or upcoming home improvements and what they mean to your home insurance? Talk to us – we’ll tell you everything you need to know!


Cybersecurity Best Practices –  Protect Your Data Working From Home

Cybersecurity Best Practices –  Protect Your Data Working From Home

You need to understand and implement cybersecurity best practices to protect your data if you work from home.

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic remote working is no longer just for the fringe internet workers – web and software developers, stock traders, and hackers. It’s now virtually mainstream. Everyone from oil and gas industry engineers to health professionals to writers and creatives and most other sectors.

Consequently, there are a unique set of challenges to working from home, including work-life balance, autonomous time management, and information security.

While we can’t address the first two in this article, we know that cybersecurity and the need to keep your work and data safe working remotely online can be very hard to address. When you work in an office environment, your employer likely manages all issues regarding cybersecurity to prevent data breaches. Rather, when you work from home, you expose yourself to a number of information security risks. Some companies work to get ahead of this by deploying remote networks to protect work-at-home employees. Others do not. You may be working at home and need to safeguard your data on your own. You have to understand how to manage the security of your company’s sensitive information. And, it helps to effectively secure your personal information as well.

Fortunately, there are preventative measures you can take to ensure that you protect your data and help mitigate cybersecurity risks:

Always use strong passwords

No matter where you work, you should always create strong, long passwords for all of your devices and online accounts. Strong passwords are key to protecting your data and sit at the top of any list of cybersecurity best practices.

Strong password protection should include your Wi-Fi network and router. Avoid using passwords that someone might easily guess – your address, name, or birthday, for instance. The more challenging the password, the less likelihood for a hacker to crack it and gain access to your devices or accounts.

If you want to evaluate the strength of your password choice, tools such as How Secure is my Password will check if it’s strong enough. It will also calculate how many days, weeks, months, or years it would take for a computer to crack it – kinda cool!

Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network)

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is fundamental to cybersecurity best practices. Yes, it secures your privacy online and can allow you to access to blocked content due to geography. Additionally, though, a VPN also protects your online traffic from interception for nefarious purposes.

A VPN is a virtual internet tunnel that encrypts all of your internet traffic. It ensures that data sharing amongst your network has protection from hackers. If you use a free VPN, you risk compromised internet speeds due to the higher volume. For business purposes, it’s best to spend the money on a VPN to maintain optimum productivity.

Implement two-factor authentication

A strong password is great. But, for those highly sensitive accounts, it isn’t always enough to mitigate the online security risks. For instance, if your credentials don’t have adequate encryption within the systems of your company or, using advanced password hacking tools, an attacker can “guess” the password.

Two-factor authentication provides an extra layer of protection for your accounts. It effectively validates employees’ identities more accurately and efficiently. It’s an extra step via text message, email, or a randomly generated PIN. Only the employee is able to provide the required authorization.

While not 100% hacker-proof, two-step authentication adds yet another measure of protection. It is another barrier to help prevent an unauthorized intrusion into company systems and accounts.

Keep systems updated

Updating systems such as your computer operating system as well as software and web platforms can be time-consuming and somewhat annoying. But, they are an essential component to the security of your data. System updates often address security vulnerabilities identified in previous iterations.

As remote workers access company digital infrastructure through their personal computers, it’s more important than ever that they keep their computers and software up to date.

Use solid anti-virus software

Even if a Windows machine has good built-in virus protection in the form of Widows Defender, it’s not enough. If you work remotely, you need to install strong anti-virus software and conduct frequent scans to identify possible infection.

There is a variety of good antivirus software available. A few to consider:

  • McAfee
  • Bitdefender
  • Norton 360 Deluxe

Don’t get sucked into phishing scams

An important element of cybersecurity best practices, being aware of phishing scams is integral to your online security. Unfortunately, with more professional online usage throughout the pandemic, it offered more opportunities for hackers to take advantage and send far more phishing emails.

Phishing emails can result in corrupted systems or unauthorized access. This can result in vulnerability or compromise of your personal computer as well as company systems. With email often the primary means of communication, remote workers are far more susceptible to email phishing attacks.

First rule-of-thumb – click on NOTHING if you don’t trust or can’t identify the sender. To identify a phishing email, first check the sender’s email address for gobbledy goop URLs or spelling errors. Look for grammar errors in the subject line, preheader text, or email body.

If you’re still curious beyond that, hover over any links contained to see the URL – DO NOT click. And, certainly, do NOT click any attachments.

Secure your personal home network

Chances are that the router in your home included a default password at installation. It’s important to know that modern cybercriminals can find their way into default credentials for just about every kind of device. It will be among their first attempts into hacking your network.

Upon installation the first thing you should do is set a new, strong, long password to protect your personal network.  Additionally, similar to the updates to your system and software, be sure that your router’s firmware is up to date. Hackers know which vulnerabilities to look for when it comes to outdated versions of technologies, including your home network. Home working has increased the likelihood of vulnerabilities to be exploited more easily and more frequently.

An easy step to prevent attack is to set your network’s encryption to WPA 2 or 3, which is far more challenging to crack than traditional WEP encryption.

Questions about your insurance and cybersecurity risks? Talk to us to ensure you’re protected.