800 222 8711 Contact Us Join Mail List Secure Mail Submit a Claim
Search magnifying glass icon

Murphy Insurance News & Articles

rss

topics of interest to you

christmas tree safety

Christmas trees are a beautiful holiday decoration, but they can be dangerous, too. Even if you have an artificial tree, there are hazards to avoid. The last thing anyone wants is to have their Christmas Celebration destroyed by fire. Here are some quick tips and precautions to follow for safety.

Check out this video on the difference of a fire involving a dry tree vs. a wet tree.

 

 

Picking your tree

  • Choose a tree that has fresh, green needles that don't fall off easily when touched. Be sure to shake the tree. If lots of needles fall... move on.
  • Make sure artificial trees are labeled, certified, or identified as fire retardant.

Setting up your tree

  • Once you get your tree home, keep your tree in water until you are ready to set it up.
  • Cut 1–2” from the base of the trunk before putting it in the stand. Add water immediately.
  • Make sure the location of the tree in your home is away from heat sources such as fireplaces, radiators, heating vents, woodstoves, candles or light fixtures.
  • Don't block exits.

Decorating and caring for your tree

  • Use either indoor or outdoor lights, but do not use both together.
  • Check all strings of lights for worn wires, cracked sockets or broken bulbs. Replace any strings of lights that are damaged, don't try to fix them.
  • Connect no more than three strands of mini string sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs.
  • Never light real candles to decorate your tree.
  • Don't leave lights on when the tree is not attended. If something happens you need to be there to take quick action as trees can go up in a flash. ALWAYS turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
  • Water your tree EVERY DAY. Note: if the tree isn't drinking any water pay close attention to its condition.

After Christmas

  • When your tree begins dropping needles and seems dry, get rid of it. Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home, garage, or placed outside against the home.
  • Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood burning stove. They burn in a flash that you can't control and sparks easily jump causing a house fire. They burn so hot that you could damage your firebox and chimney. Don't even try using it for kindling.
  • Check with your local community to find a recycling program. 

Source: National Fire Protection Association
 

Thanksgiving Safety Tips

Thanksgiving Safety Tips Murphy InsuranceThanksgiving Day is a fun holiday that many of us look forward to all year. As you plan and prepare for your Thanksgiving feast, be sure to keep safety a focus, too.  With heightened activity in the kitchen and other entertaining going on in your home, you don't want to get distracted and have your holiday go up in smoke. 

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says Thanksgiving Day is the leading day for home cooking fires, with three times as many occurring on Thanksgiving as any other day of the year. In 2016, there were 1,570 fires on Thanksgiving.  
 

Kitchen Safety Tips

  • Always stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food so you can check it regularly. If you have to leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • Stay in the home when cooking your turkey. Use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire such as oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains away from the stove top.
  • Keep children away from the stove. The stove will be hot and kids should stay 3 feet away.
  • Keep knives out of the reach of children.
  • Make sure kids stay away from hot food and liquids. The steam or splash from vegetables, gravy or coffee could cause serious burns.
  • Be sure electric cords from an electric knife, coffee maker, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child.
  • Keep matches and utility lighters out of the reach of children — up high in a locked cabinet.
  • Never leave children alone in a room with a lit candle.
  • Keep the floor clear so you don’t trip over kids, toys, pocketbooks or bags.
  • Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Test them by pushing the test button.

If things go wrong and you have a cooking fire…

  • Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number from outside the home.
  • If you try to fight the fire, be sure others are getting out and you have a clear path out of the home, and that someone has called the fire department.
  • Keep a lid nearby when cooking to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stove top. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
  • For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed

Source: National Fire Protection Association

Turkey fryer safety

turkey fryer safety

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) discourages the use of outdoor gas-fueled turkey fryers that immerse the turkey in hot oil. These turkey fryers use a substantial quantity of cooking oil at high temperatures, and units currently available for home use pose a significant danger that hot oil will be released at some point during the cooking process. The use of turkey fryers by consumers can lead to devastating burns, other injuries and the destruction of property. NFPA urges those who prefer fried turkey to seek out professional establishments, such as grocery stores, specialty food retailers, and restaurants for the preparation of the dish, or consider a new type of "oil-less" turkey fryer."

  • Hot oil may splash or spill at any point during the cooking process, when the fryer is jarred or tipped over, the turkey is placed in the fryer or removed, or the turkey is moved from the fryer to the table. Any contact between hot oil and skin could result in serious injury. Any contact between hot oil and nonmetallic materials could lead to serious damage.
  • Fryers designed for outdoor use that have a stand are particularly vulnerable to upset or collapse, which can result in a major spill of hot oil. Newer countertop units using a solid base appear to reduce this particular risk. NFPA does not believe that consumer education alone can make the risks of either type of turkey fryer acceptably low because of the large quantities of hot oil involved and the speed and severity of burn likely to occur with contact.
  • In deep frying, oil is heated to temperatures of 350 degrees Fahrenheit or more. Cooking oil is combustible, and if it is heated beyond its cooking temperature, its vapors can ignite. This is a fire danger separate from the burn danger inherent in the hot oil. Overheating can occur if temperature controls, which are designed to shut off the fryer if the oil overheats, are defective, or if the appliance has no temperature controls.
  • Propane-fired turkey fryers are designed for outdoor use, particularly for Thanksgiving, by which time both rain and snow are common in many parts of the country. If rain or snow strikes exposed hot cooking oil, the result can be a splattering of the hot oil or a conversion of the rain or snow to steam, either of which can lead to burns. The frozen turkey may splatter hot oil, which could cause a serious injury.
  • The approximately 5 gallons of oil in these devices introduce an additional level of hazard to deep fryer cooking, as does the size and weight of the turkey, which must be safely lowered into and raised out of the large quantity of hot oil. Many turkeys are purchased frozen, and they may not be fully thawed when cooking begins. As with a rainy day, a defrosting turkey creates the risk of contact between hot cooking oil.
  • There is a new outdoor turkey cooking appliance that does not use oil. NFPA believes these should be considered as an alternative. NFPA understands that this appliance will be listed by a recognized testing laboratory.

NFPA continues to believe that turkey fryers that use oil, as currently designed, are not suitable for acceptably safe use by even a well-informed and careful consumer. Consumers may find packaging of turkey fryers displaying independent product safety testing labels. NFPA is familiar with the details of these test standards and does not believe that they are sufficiently comprehensive regarding the different ways in which serious harm can occur, and, in some cases, regarding the different parts of the turkey fryer that need to be tested.

Copyright © 2013 National Fire Protection Association 

Copyright © Underwriters' Laboratories

Canceled

There's a difference between an insurance company canceling a policy and choosing not to renew it. Learn why your insurance might not be renewed.

Auto insurance cancellation

cancelledInsurance companies cannot cancel a policy that has been in force for more than 60 days except when:

  • You fail to pay the premium
  • You have committed fraud or made serious misrepresentations on your application
  • Your drivers license has been revoked or suspended.

Auto insurance non-renewal

Either you or your insurance company can decide not to renew the policy when it expires. Your insurance company must give you a certain number of days notice and explain the reason for not renewing before it drops your policy (the exact timeframes and rules will depend on the state in which you live).

There are a number of reasons an insurance company may choose not to renew a policy, and it may have nothing to do with you personally. For example, your insurer may have decided to drop that particular type of insurance or to write fewer policies where you live.

However, a nonrenewal can also be due to your record or your actions. Doing something to considerably raise the insurance company’s risk—like driving drunk—would be cause for non-renewal.

If you've been told your policy is not being renewed and you want a further explanation or think the reason is unfair, call the insurance company’s consumer affairs division. If you don't get a satisfactory explanation, contact your state insurance department.

Note that nonrenewal at one insurer doesn't necessarily mean you'll be charged a higher premium at another insurance company.

Source: Insurance Information Institute

check your smoke detector

When it's time to set the clocks forward in Spring or backward in the Fall for Daylight Savings Time, fire safety officials recommend checking that your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order. Batteries don't last forever. Vacuum them to remove dust, replace batteries and test the alarms. This small effort could make all the difference in an emergency.

The life expectancy of smoke alarms is generally 8-10 years, after which point their sensors can begin to lose sensitivity. The test button only confirms that the battery, electronics, and alert system are working; it doesn’t mean that the smoke sensor is working. Over time dust gathers in detectors which diminishes sensitivity. You can test sensors using an aerosol can of smoke alarm test spray that simulates smoke. Both hard-wired and battery-operated detectors need to be checked and replaced as needed.

If your alarms are over 10 years, why take a chance? It's recommended to replace all detectors at the same time to ensure that you're using up-to-date technology throughout your home.  It's also easier to keep track of when it's time to replace them.

Most fatal fires occur at night. Thousands of lives are saved each year simply because people have working smoke detectors to alert them. Working smoke detectors decrease the risk of dying in a house fire by nearly 50%. Many fire deaths are caused by inhaling the toxic smoke and gases emitted in the states of a fire, so early warning can make all the difference between life and death. 

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas produced whenever any fuel such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood or charcoal is burned. Exposure to CO can produce headache, dizziness, nausea, fainting, and at high levels, can cause unconsciousness and death. Hundreds of people die accidentally each year from CO poisoning caused by malfunctioning or improperly used fuel-burning appliances (EPA data). Therefore, knowing the symptoms and having an alarm to alert you to a CO buildup can be the difference in saving lives.

smoke & carbon monoxided alarms

Smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector requirements can vary from town to town, so it's a good idea to check with your local fire department regarding local regulations for fire and smoke detector placement and type. Every home needs working smoke alarms to provide an early warning.

Smoke alarms installed in all bedrooms, hallways that lead to sleeping areas, basements, and each additional level of your home. Generally, smoke alarms should be mounted on the ceiling 4” from the wall; wall mounts should be 4-12” from the ceiling. Do not install near windows, vents or other draft areas.

Carbon monoxide detector alarms are required to be located on every level of a home or dwelling unit including habitable portions of basements and attics. On levels with sleeping areas, the alarms must be placed within 10 feet of the bedroom doors. 

prepare and practice your escape plan

If a fire were to occur, how would you get out of your home? You should have an evacuation plan with at least two escape routes. Make sure that everyone in your family knows the routes and practices how to crawl low under smoke. Determine a location where to meet outside so that you'll know everyone is out. 

Fire officials also recommend

  • Testing smoke alarms monthly by pushing the 'test' button, which activates the alarm.
  • Install fire extinguishers in or near the kitchen
  • Preventative house cleaning to reduce or eliminate fire hazards

 

halloween liability

Halloween liabilityHalloween can be scary but having the right insurance coverage can take some of the fright out of the night, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

“If you’re worried about Halloween partyers who may cause damage to your home, there’s probably little to fear,” said Michael Barry, vice president, Media Relations, I.I.I. “But do contact your insurance professional with questions or concerns about your homeowners or renters insurance policy.”

Your insurance policies provide financial protection for a host of disasters whether they occur on Halloween or any other day.

The I.I.I. points out that standard homeowners and renters insurance will provide coverage for the following.

  • Vandalism - In the event your home or your personal possessions are damaged by neighborhood tricksters, homeowners and renters insurance policies provide coverage for vandalism and malicious mischief. You are on your own, however, when it comes to removing the toilet paper from your front yard….
  • Fire - If a jack-o-lantern, or other decoration, goes up in flames and damages your property, your homeowners or renters policy will cover fire-related losses. And, should the blaze make your home uninhabitable, additional living expenses (ALE) coverage will pay for alternate accommodations, such as a hotel, while your home is being repaired.
  • Injuries - The liability portion of a homeowners or renters policy comes into play if a Halloween party guest, or a trick-or-treater is injured while at your house or apartment. These policies also include no-fault medical coverage so the injured person can file their claim directly with your insurer.And if Fido gets a little skittish from all the commotion and accidently nips a trick-or-treater your liability coverage includes damages or injuries caused by pets.


Of course, the best solution is to avoid trouble altogether. Check out Safe Kids Worldwide and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for helpful Halloween safety tips. 

Source:  Insurance Information Institute

COVID-19 update video message from Dennis F. Murphy III

Video message update from Dennis F. Murphy III on customer assistance and service during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Watch the video on YouTube.

Message from Dennis Murphy III

Transcript: 

Hi...this is Dennis Murphy. Just wanted to take a moment to reach out and say “Hello” and give you an update as to where we stand here at Murphy Insurance. Our team is doing quite well.

Like a lot of organizations our team has the ability to either work from home or work from one of our locations.  Our locations are currently closed to the public. We are going to be doing that for the near term as a means of keeping our team safe and out of an abundance of caution.  We do want to be here for your inquiries.  That said I do invite you to reach out any time via phone, via email, via web inquiry to any member of our organization.  We are here; we do have the ability to service any customer needs.

One thing we are looking for some patience on is the Registry of Motor Vehicles. The Registry currently has about a five day back log. Meaning that our courier still goes every single day, but work that he goes with today won’t be back (from the Registry) for a full business week. That is something that I do ask you to keep in mind as Registry needs come up.

With that said, if you have any questions…if you want to review your policy…if you have any inquires, I ask you to reach out to any member of our team including me personally. You can feel free to reach out directly any time you want.

Thank you very much.  I hope you all stay safe. We look forward to seeing you in person when the time allows.

Thank you.

car accident preparedness

In the aftermath of a crash, know the right actions to take

No one wants to get into a car crash. But being prepared and knowing what to do if you are involved in an accident can save lives, reduce injuries and make the claims process simpler and easier.

So you'll be prepared at the scene:

Keep critical, relevant documents in your car, such as registration, proof of auto insurance, your leasing agent's name. It's also a good idea to carry important medical information (allergies, doctors names) for you and your family members.

Ensure that your car is emergency ready. Flares, orange cones, emergency signage can help keep your loved ones and your vehicle from more harm after an accident. And, while we rely on technology, there's a chance it might fail when you need to record a phone number or license plate details—keep a pad and pen in your car.

Make sure to have the right amount of auto coverage to fit your needs. While an insurance policy is not a substitute for health and safety, knowing you'll be covered in the case of an accident can reduce the stress.

In the event of an accident, immediately:

  • Take care. Pull the vehicle to the side of the road, if possible. If the accident was triggered by road rage, take extra cautions when engaging with the other driver. If you are bumped from behind and think you might be the intended victim of a carjacking, make sure to pull off in a safe place.
  • Assess possible injuries. Tend to people first—make sure everyone is okay. Call 911 if anyone is injured.
  • Assess damage to the car. Once you're assured everyone is okay, review the extent of the damage to the vehicle. If possible, take pictures.
  • Don’t leave the scene of the accident. If you run into an unattended vehicle, try to find the owner. If you can’t, leave a note with your name, address and phone number. Record the details of the accident, including the make and model of the car and the address where the accident occurred.
  • Collect as much information as possible. Get the names of and contact information for everyone involved in the crash, including witnesses. Ask the other driver or drivers (if you are involved in a multi-car accident) for a license, car registration and insurance ID card, and get the makes and models of the cars involved. Note of the location of the accident, time of day and the weather conditions. Smartphones are a great way to record driver and car documentation (as well as accident details).
  • Alert the police or highway patrol. If you are involved in a serious accident, let law enforcement know, especially if anyone is hurt. If necessary, the police will notify the nearest medical unit. Get the names and badge numbers of the officers on the scene and ask where you can get a copy of their accident report. 
  • File an accident report, even if the police can't come to the scene. Head to the nearest police department (or their website) to file an incident report. Having an official report can help in case the other driver decides to sue for damages or medical injuries, or there is more damage done to your car than initially thought. And you will need to have the report when making your insurance claim.
  • Get the claims process started. Notify your insurance professional about the accident as soon as possible—the longer you wait, the harder it will be to remember the details. 


Don't let a bad situation turn out worse—protect yourself against uninsured motorists.

Source: Insurance Information Institute

prepare for disaster

A Trusted Choice® survey shows that many homeowners lack basic financial protections to withstand unexpected disasters.

As disaster season peaks, a new national consumer survey commissioned by Trusted Choice® and the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big “I”), reveals that many homeowners lack adequate insurance coverage, do not fully understand their homeowners policies and do not have enough savings to support their households in the event of a disaster.

The August 2016 homeowner survey found:

  • At least 73% of respondents don’t have a flood insurance policy that is separate from their homeowners coverage;

  • More than 40% of those surveyed don’t have or don’t know if they have coverage that will fully replace their belongings and home in the event of a disaster;
  • At least 28% of homeowners polled do not have enough savings to support their households for even one month after a disaster if they had to leave their home. Only one-third said they could support their household for more than three months in this circumstance.
  • Less than one-third of respondents have an up-to-date and complete home inventory stored away from their premises.

prepare for disaster“Most people think that a basic homeowners policy will cover them in the event of a disaster, however these new findings highlight that a startling number of homeowners have not taken some of the most basic steps to adequately prepare for a disaster such as a hurricane, flood or fire,” says Robert Rusbuldt, Trusted Choice® president and Big “I” president & CEO. “This is disturbing as hurricane and wildfire seasons are about to peak, affecting many parts of the country.”

With almost three-quarters of respondents lacking proper flood insurance coverage, they are completely vulnerable and have no protection from damage caused by rising water or flooding including common problems such as seepage of underground water into a home, leaky roofs and toppled trees from saturated soil. According to FEMA, floods are the leading disaster in the United States, and people outside high-risk flood areas file more than one-fifth of all National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) flood insurance claims.

The survey also showed a lack of basic understanding regarding standard homeowners insurance coverage. More than one-fifth of survey respondents didn’t know whether they have replacement cost coverage for their belongings and home (which allows them to replace lost possessions with new items) or if they have actual cash value coverage (which takes depreciation of the structure and personal items into consideration). In most standard homeowners policies actual cash value is the default coverage.

“The risk of financial ruin in the event of a major disaster is significantly higher for those homeowners who have only actual cash value coverage because they cannot fully recoup their losses,” continues Flannagan. “Sadly, this survey shows that only 58% have replacement cost coverage. Trusted Choice® recommends homeowners purchase replacement cost coverage and take a hard look at their finances to ensure they are prepared.”

Unfortunately, this new research shows that more than half of those surveyed (56%) have just enough savings to support their households for three months or less if they had to temporarily move away as a result of a disaster to their property. Notably, 28% said they couldn’t sustain for even a month. Most alarming, 14% of those surveyed reported that their savings would be drained in less than a week. For off-premises living expenses in these cases, a standard homeowners policy provides only limited protection (usually 10% of the coverage on your home) and a flood policy provides NO COVERAGE.

The survey was conducted for Trusted Choice® and the Big “I” by MFour Mobile Research, Inc. using MFour’s Surveys on the Go® Smartphone Application Panel which includes Apple and Android mobile device users. MFour is an independent research company headquartered in Irvine, California. Interviews of a nationally representative sample of 1,000 U.S. homeowners were conducted in August 2016 and weighted by age and gender to represent the general U.S. population over age 18.

Source:  Massachusetts Association of Insurance Agents

winter business preparation tips

New England winters are known for their unpredictability. Keeping your business operations running smoothly and safely this winter is dependent on being prepared for whatever winter weather might bring. Below are a few of the steps you can take to address the most common problems that cause property damage in winter.

winter business preparation tipsCold air in enclosed spaces

  • Visually inspect concealed spaces for gaps in wall materials; water pipes in these areas can freeze if unprotected
  • Keep these spaces warmed to at least 50° F or use certified heat tape

Sprinkler systems and related equipment

  • Keep building temperatures at 50° F for wet-pipe systems, including the enclosures housing a riser equipped with a dry pipe valve
  • Dry pipe systems should be drained at the low point prior to the onset of cold weather
  • Service and inspect all hydrants, tanks, fire dept. connections and sprinkler system accessories before the onset of cold weather

General building protection

  • Inspect vacant properties or unoccupied areas of a building during cold weather to be sure heating systems are functioning properly
  • Identify sources of cold air infiltration and repair leaks or seals
  • Inspect roofs to be sure they can withstand snow loads; remove snow from roofs if roof strength is in question
  • Keep gutters, downspouts and roof drains clear to avoid clogging and freezing

Preventing ice dams

  • Increase insulation above ceilings inside the building
  • Consider the use of heating cables to prevent ice dams
  • Increase ventilation in attic spaces
  • Inspect roofs for evidence of standing water (mold, mildew, vegetation) that might indicate future problems, and address the situation with a roofing contractor
  • SAFELY remove snow with a roof rake or stiff-bristled broom when ice dams have been a problem (always follow OSHA guidelines for worker safety during roof work)

Responding to a heat loss event

  • Drain any equipment that contains water that could freeze if the temperature drops
  • Investigate sources of temporary heat to be prepared for low temperatures
  • Train security or maintenance/facility personnel in how to close automatic sprinkler valves if a leak or break should occur

Taking the above steps and performing routine maintenance of your property can be key to preventing property damage during winter months and throughout the year.

Source:  Hanover Insurance

 

The information provided in these articles are only general descriptions and should not be relied upon as complete, correct or accurate for your specific situation. All coverage informaiton is subject to policy provisions, endorsements and may be  subject to your meeting underwriting qualifications. Murphy Insurance Agency is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other noninsurance professional services. Consult an appropriate professional for advice regarding your own situation.