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At CRS, we honor six of our dedicated employees who are Veterans of the United States Military.

“Teamwork is a huge thing in the military and it has always played a role in my jobs, but it is extremely prevalent here at CRS. Being able to work with the different departments to accomplish a goal is a daily event here.” says Kristina Coombs, CRS Customer Care Specialist. In the Army Reserves, Kristina served as an Automated Logistical Specialist for nearly four years. Her family is an “Army Family” so she says “it just seemed right” that she joined.

Vanessa Cazarez, CRS Billing Specialist, was an Aviation Mechanic in the United States Navy for 5 years. Stationed on the USS Abraham Lincoln in Norfolk, VA, she states being a Veteran “Makes me proud to have been part of the select few that volunteer to protect our great country.”

 

Vanessa Cazarez (on the far right) and her United States Navy Aviation Mechanic team.

Two of our employees, Corinne Weinberger and Chris Varela, actually served on the same mission in Desert Storm together. Though they didn’t know each other at the time, and had different duties, both feel that the skills learned while in the military have helped them excel at CRS. Team building and working with people from diverse backgrounds has taught them how to approach various situations, talk to people and think fast on their feet.

Mindy Campbell, CRS Customer Care Specialist with eight years of service at CRS, wants to tell people thinking of joining the military to “Make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. It will be the hardest thing you’ll ever do but will be darn proud of yourself when you look back on your time in the service.” Mindy served as an Army Medic for 3 years and a reservist for 2 more.

Using organizational skills learned during his time as a Sergeant in the Army, Vince Salazar is now on the front lines at CRS as Customer Care Specialist. He’s one of the first people that a policyholder might talk with about their housing loss. Not only does Vince provide pertinent information they need, he empathizes with and encourages them to stay strong, knowing that CRS has got their back.

All Veterans remind us of our potential as Americans to give and at times, give it your all. They are our relatives, friends, neighbors, and co-workers, and they committed to a cause larger than their own by accepting the challenge to defend our nation.

Today, and every day, we say THANK YOU.

On this Veterans Day, we salute our Veterans and extend our gratitude for their service.



“Nobody ever drowned in sweat.” - US Marines

“Courage is fear holding on a minute longer.” - George S. Patton

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So many choices at Thanksgiving, what’s your favorite ______________ ?

This November we’re showcasing our dedicated employees in a 3-part video series about Thanksgiving. These video volunteers were asked a few questions on camera, without knowing the questions prior to being filmed. We get to see their honest and candid reactions, and we’re sharing them with you!

Let’s start here...

What is your favorite Thanksgiving ____________ ?

 
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It’s hurricane and wildfire season, is damage to my home covered?

Running over the entire summer from June 1st to November 30th, hurricane season brings serious damage risks from high winds, rain, and flooding in storm-prone regions. Is your biggest asset well protected? Your home is most likely your family’s most valuable investment. Know that your current homeowner’s insurance policy may cover some damage brought on by a hurricane, but not all.

Running concurrently with hurricane season, wildfire season is a period when wildland fires are likely to occur, spread, and affect resource values sufficient to warrant organized fire management activities. Higher temperatures, reduced snowpack, increased drought risk, and longer warm seasons are increasing wildfire activity in the western United States.

Make sure you have the proper coverage

Review your homeowner’s insurance policy today to make sure your policy is up-to-date and you are properly protected for anything that may happen. Here are a few tips regarding damage brought on by hurricanes and wildfires.

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WIND

In most states, standard homeowner’s policies cover damage caused by wind, including hurricanes. But if you live in a high-risk coastal state you might need to buy separate windstorm insurance. Check with your insurance company as it might also be available as a rider on your current policy. Windstorm insurance covers damage from any high wind, not just hurricanes. The cost of a separate windstorm policy depends on the amount of your deductible, where you live, and how much it would cost to rebuild your house.

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FLOOD

Flood damage brought on by, or as the result of, a hurricane is not typically covered in a private homeowners insurance policy. U.S. law requires people to purchase basic flood insurance if their home is in a designated high-risk flood area with a federally backed mortgage. (See floodsmart.gov for more information.) But in 2017, Hurricane Harvey showed that flooding can also damage properties outside the highest-risk zones and affect homeowners who weren’t required to buy the additional coverage.

Check with the National Flood Insurance Program as you may be able to purchase a separate flood insurance to help cover such damage in your area.

Don’t procrastinate

Flood insurance policies impose a 30-day waiting period between the time you buy and the time coverage takes effect, so review your policy today. If a major storm has been forecast, there’s a chance that your current coverage will be locked in until that major weather event has passed.

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WILDFIRE

Damage from wildfires and forest fires is most likely covered by your homeowner’s insurance, but coverage may vary by geographic location and by policy. You may also find that some insurers do not sell homeowner’s policies in areas where wildfires are common, or it may be offered by paying a higher premium. Check your policy or contact your agent to learn about terms and coverage limits.

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The Insurance Information Institute (III) recommends reviewing the amount of coverage you have in place and make any necessary adjustments to help ensure your limits are in line with the potential cost of repairing or rebuilding your home.

Whether you’re buying homeowners insurance, flood insurance, windstorm insurance or wildfire insurance — or all four — make sure you have enough coverage to pay for the full cost of rebuilding your house. Your insurance agent can help you pinpoint the right amount.

 

Sources:

https://www.floodsmart.gov

https://www.wsj.com/articles/what-homeowners-insurance-wont-cover-if-a-hurricane-hits-1504897428

https://www.iii.org/article/hurricanes-harvey-and-irma-insurance-faqs

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Home Essentials: How to nail your basic toolkit 

Are you a new homeowner, or maybe new to a temporary home? In either case, you’ll want to have a basic toolkit for minor home repairs. Imagine having to shell out big bucks to a handyman every time you want to hang a picture or adjust squeaky door? So not cool.

The best gift I received when I moved into my first apartment was a stocked toolbox from my dad. Not the housewarming gift I was hoping for, but in the following months and after it’s weekly use, I was in total appreciation of his foresight.

 

So, where to start?

Get yourself to the hardware store, grab a cart and let’s get shopping. Building a good toolkit usually happens over time because it can be costly, but you should start out with some essentials. For about $60, you can build a starter kit. Here are the must-haves:

• Claw Hammer • Screwdriver Set • Adjustable Crescent Wrench • Channellock Pliers • Tape Measure • Level • Carpenter Pencils and Sharpener

Make sure to keep your core set of tools in a toolbox or bag at all times.

 

Ready to add more?

Within six months to a year, you may be ready to expand your toolkit. With a few added tools, you’ll have the means to put up shelves, paint a room, change door locks and more. The estimated cost for adding the below tools will be around $200.

• Utility Knife and Blades • Ratchet Set • Cordless Drill and Drill Bits • Manual Saw Set: Hacksaw and Wood Saw • Stud Finder • Basic Painting Set • Flash Light

 

Having so much fun that you want to try more?

Most hardware stores, especially large national chains like Home Depot and Lowe’s, both host classes and workshops designed to help new homeowners get comfortable with doing their own work around the house, making their own improvements, and fixing their own problems without spending a ton of money on contractors or specialists. For example, Home Depot’s weekly workshops will show you how to do things like install decorative molding, install tile flooring, properly paint interior walls, and more—all things you may never have had to do as a renter.

Lowe’s also has a how-to project center with walkthroughs for common household projects:  Take me there

 
Sources: https://www.fix.com/blog/diy-home-repair-kit/ https://lifehacker.com/where-can-i-learn-home-improvement-skills-1535195959
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Spring ahead and lose an hour of sleep. Whose idea was this?

Do we love to spring ahead or hate it? In a year filled with 8,760 hours, why do we think it’s such a big deal? It’s just 0.01141552511415525% of a year.

Aside from what you may have heard over your lifetime, farmers are not to blame and it was not created by Benjamin Franklin. Daylight saving time was actually first instituted by Germany on May 1, 1916 in an effort to conserve fuel during World War I.

Do we still need it today? U.S. states are starting to decide on an individual basis. The Florida Senate just approved a bill that once they spring ahead on March 11, 2018, they could remain there. The approval means the bill will go to the governor’s desk, but it doesn’t mean the “spring forward” clock change Sunday at 2 a.m. will put the state on permanent daylight saving time.

Currently, states can opt out of daylight saving time to stay on standard time, but cannot make daylight saving time permanent. So, it will be interesting to see what transpires in the coming weeks.

Most areas of the United States observe daylight saving time (DST), the exceptions being Arizona, Hawaii, and the overseas territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands.

Whether you love it or hate, know that it’s a good time to do a few inexpensive, routine updates in and around your home.

1 - Replace the smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector batteries.

These alarms save lives! For just a few dollars and minutes of your time, you can economically and quickly replace the batteries and know your family is safer.

2 - Prepare a storm kit for your home and car.

This can be a lifesaver in a power outage or if you get stranded in your car in bad weather. Make sure you have a long-lasting LED flashlight, a reflective vest for walking at night, non-perishable snacks, water and a warm blanket. Go to www.ready.gov/build-a-kit for more detailed kit information.

3 - Check your sump pump.

Spring often brings rain so make sure your sump pump is draining properly. Do not wait until a major snow thaw or rainstorm to find out that the pump’s motor is shot and you have 4” of water in your basement. It’s also a good idea to invest in a backup battery in the event of a power outage.

4 - Inspect the exterior of your home.

Did you just get through a harsh winter? Take a walk around the outside of the house: Are there cracks in the concrete? Is the driveway in good condition? Check the roof for signs of loose or broken shingles. Look up at the chimney for signs of wear. Check the facade and foundation for cracks or signs of water pooling.

5 - Change your clocks.

If you have any clocks in your home that run on batteries, make sure to set them ahead one hour before you head to bed. If you have an older model car like me, make sure to change the clock on your dash as well. Then when you wake it you’ll be on the right track.

As for keeping your body on track, you know that it’s coming, so maybe hop into bed an hour early on Saturday night.

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Safety tips for during and after a blizzard.

Winter storms can pack a devastating punch bringing not only snow and ice, but by dangerously low temperatures, severe wind gusts, and flooding. These blasting storms can also cause power outages that last for days. They can make roads and walkways extremely dangerous or impassable and close or limit critical community services such as public transportation, child care, health programs, and schools. Injuries and deaths may occur from exposure, dangerous road conditions, and carbon monoxide poisoning and other conditions. We want you to take extra care of yourself and your family during this time. Below are a few safety tips on what to do during and after a major winter storm.

During Blizzards and Extreme Cold

  • Stay indoors during the storm.
  • Drive only if it is absolutely necessary. If you must drive: travel in the day; don’t travel alone; keep others informed of your schedule and your route; stay on main roads and avoid back road shortcuts.
  • Walk carefully on snowy, icy, walkways.
  • Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack—a major cause of death in the winter. Use caution, take breaks, push the snow instead of lifting it when possible, and lift lighter loads.
  • Keep dry. Change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly.
  • If you must go outside, wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. The outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent.
  • Wear mittens, which are warmer than gloves.
  • Wear a hat and cover your mouth with a scarf to reduce heat loss.

After Blizzards and Extreme Cold

  • If your home loses power or heat for more than a few hours or if you do not have adequate supplies to stay warm in your home overnight, you may want to go to a designated public shelter if you can get there safely. Text SHELTER + your ZIP CODE to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (e.g., SHELTER20472)
  • Bring any personal items that you would need to spend the night (such as toiletries, medicines). Take precautions when traveling to the shelter. Dress warmly in layers, wear boots, mittens, and a hat.
  • Continue to protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia by wearing warm, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in several layers. Stay indoors, if possible.

Cold-related Illness

  • Frostbite is a serious condition that’s caused by exposure to extremely cold temperatures.
    • a white or grayish-yellow skin area
    • skin that feels unusually firm or waxy
    • numbness
    • If you detect symptoms of frostbite, seek medical care.
  • Hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature, is a dangerous condition that can occur when a person is exposed to extremely cold temperatures.  Hypothermia is caused by prolonged exposures to very cold temperatures. When exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it’s produced. Lengthy exposures will eventually use up your body’s stored energy, which leads to lower body temperature.
    • Warnings signs of hypothermia:
    • Adults: shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech drowsiness
    • Infants:  bright red, cold skin, very low energy. If you notice any of these signs, take the person’s temperature. If it is below 95° F, the situation is an emergency—get medical attention immediately.

Carbon Monoxide

Caution: Each year, an average of 430 Americans die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning, and there are more than 20,000 visits to the emergency room with more than 4,000 hospitalizations. Carbon monoxide-related deaths are highest during colder months. These deaths are likely due to increased use of gas-powered furnaces and alternative heating, cooking, and power sources used inappropriately indoors during power outages.
  • Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal¬ burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Locate unit away from doors, windows, and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors. Keep these devices at least 20 feet from doors, windows, and vents.
  • The primary hazards to avoid when using alternate sources for electricity, heating or cooking are carbon monoxide poisoning, electric shock, and fire.
  • Install carbon monoxide alarms in central locations on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas to provide early warning of accumulating carbon monoxide.
  • If the carbon monoxide alarm sounds move quickly to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door.
  • Call for help from the fresh air location and remain there until emergency personnel arrives to assist you.
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Important wildfire relocation information.

Important wildfire relocation   Experiencing a wildfire can be devastating. Not to mention having to evacuate and not knowing how the wildfire will impact your home, and life for that matter. In our world, we often see and hear of this alongside the first responders and those on the frontlines. While the initial concern is the safety of all involved, secondly, the need to get families temporarily relocated becomes of utmost and dire importance.   Emergency relocation can be a stressful and chaotic scenario. A family needs an immediate place to live while busy claims professionals are tasked to do so quickly. They may often rely on temporary relocation providers to handle and source housing options, especially during a catastrophic event and when there are many policyholders and families to look out for.   Options for temporary relocation after a wildfire can include immediate emergency hotel stays, short and/or long-term housing, commercial property or a fully equipped travel trailer on or near the affected property. The latter can ease the burden of being far away from home and can allow for the homeowner(s) to oversee any construction.   In the event where a large area has been affected, experienced temporary housing companies can deliver these emergency relocation solutions during high-demand times when options may otherwise seem limited. Among other expectations, a relocation provider can use an extensive database of like, kind and quality options no matter the lifestyle; a single homeowner, couple, entire family or business owner.   Providers should also offer a one-stop shop. This will free up the insurance adjuster to focus on handling the claim portion and focus more so on the claim itself. A few options to look for in a temporary housing company:  
  • A knowledgeable service team on hand with 24-hour availability.
  • A point of contact for each stage of the relocation.
  • Access to multiple inventories in different markets.
  • Full coordination of move in, move out and management of services.
  • Flexible billing options and invoicing for claims professionals who may handle multiple accounts.
  • Creative relocation solutions. Does the family need to continue to care for livestock? Are there medical needs? Is there a need for a more high-end solution or a solution for a business owner?
  • Longevity of a provider. A company that has many years in the industry has likely assisted in many catastrophes, large or small.
  There are numerous ways to handle a relocation. While no two are alike, outstanding customer service and provider knowledge should remain consistent.   For immediate assistance and to obtain housing from wildfire damage or loss, provide CRS with your insurance information and claim number (if one has been given to you) and let us handle the rest.  

If you do not have insurance and need housing and rental assistance information:

  Find a disaster recovery center near you - You can text DRC and a zip code to 43362 (4FEMA) to locate a Disaster Recovery Center in your area. https://egateway.fema.gov/ESF6/DRCLocator     Contact your state emergency management agency - https://www.fema.gov/emergency-management-agencies     Locate FEMA participating hotels - femaevachotels.com    
Please reach out for more information or if we can answer any of your questions. We are here to help.
Our thoughts are with you, please stay safe!
 

Adjusters please visit the CRS portal, Call us at 800-968-0848 or email a request to request@crsth.com to submit a housing request on behalf of your policholder.

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Fall’s transformation is here, how will you change?

The first day of fall is Friday, September 22

As the leaves begin to fall and the heat of summer fades, we naturally begin to think about how we need to prepare for the changing season. Do we start to replace summer clothes for sweaters, pants, and boots? Is it time to think about putting down the storm windows? When do we move the shovel and salt closer to the garage door?

These are all great questions and items on many people’s lists. But how else can we better prepare ourselves for what else might be coming next?

 

Disasters don’t plan ahead, but you can

As we prepare for fall, we also come to the end of National Preparedness Month (September 2017). We hope that you have thoughtfully taken steps to prepare yourself, your family and your home for potential natural disasters and national emergencies. With the devastation we’ve recently seen with Hurricane’s Harvey and Irma, and the recent earthquakes in Mexico, we know that disaster can strike at any time and any where.

Here’s a checklist to help guide you in making a plan for you and your family:

www.ready.gov/make-a-plan

 

The importance of property insurance

Homeowners insurance not only protects your home, which may very well be your largest investment, but gives you a sense of security. The general assumption is that whatever happens to your home is covered. In actuality, typical perils (causes of property destruction) that are generally not covered are flood damage, earthquake, mold, acts of war and parts of the property in disrepair (including worn-out plumbing, electrical wiring, air conditioners, heating units and roofing). A few of these can be added as separate policies.

Educate yourself on what your policy does and, more importantly, does not cover.

 

Home health

It’s also important to consider your home and how to prepare it for the upcoming colder seasons. Here’s a helpful Home Fall Checklist from our friends at Better Homes & Gardens:

www.bhg.com/home-improvement

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How to keep your home safe while on vacation

The kids are out of school, you’ve got time of work and it’s time to pack for your summer family getaway. You’re all set to go, but is your house ready for you to be away on vacation?

A house or apartment left empty while you’re traveling is a tempting target for criminals. It’s imperative that before you go, take a few key steps to keep your home safe and sound while vacationing. These basic preventative measures, which take just minutes of preparation, can work wonders to help you keep your home safe from power surges, broken pipes, home invasions and more.

— Unplug anything that doesn’t need to stay plugged in, including televisions and computers, to protect them against power surges. This will help you save money as well; many appliances draw energy even when they’re turned off.

— Ask a friend or neighbor to stop by the house randomly (to avoid a pattern or anticipated time) to remove boxes from the doorstep, check the mail, pick up any delivered newspapers and take notices and fliers from the door. Ask them to park in your driveway if they live close by, and  make sure they have all your correct contact information.

You can also place a hold on your mail online at USPS.

house key chain

— Don’t tip off criminals on the web by announcing on social media that you will be leaving your house unattended for two weeks. If the temptation to post is unavoidable, ensure that all possible security measures are in place on all social sites.

— Consider shutting off the water to your washing machine, dishwasher, and toilets if you’re going to be away from the house for longer than a week. This can help prevent nasty, and potentially expensive, shocks when you return.

Another option is to install wireless leak sensors in flood-prone areas like your basement, laundry room, or bathroom, to notify you of leaks before significant damage is done.

— Keep expensive and irreplaceable items such as old family photos, artwork, electronics, and stamp collections off the ground in case of water damage. Store them up on shelves and/or in waterproof containers.

— If you have outdoor furniture, bring glass tables, chairs, and umbrellas inside to avoid wind/storm damage to yard items or the exterior of your home.

— Schedule random light timers throughout your home. This will give the appearance that someone is there and will help to deter burglars and vandals.

— Remove your spare key, that plastic rock isn’t fooling anyone. If a criminal figures out you’re away on vacation, it’s likely that he or she will check your porch for a spare key.

Most importantly, make sure you look all doors and windows before heading off to paradise. Once you've taken these few precautions, travel safe and enjoy your time away, knowing that you're home is fully prepared for you to be gone for a while.

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Sources:

http://www.philly.com/philly/business/real_estate/20160724_Vacationing__Tips_for_keeping_the_house_safe_while_you_re_gone.html

Keep Your Home Safe on Vacation: 9 Essential Tips

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Thunderstorms are getting more destructive and insurance companies are paying for it

CHICAGO — Severe storm systems leave more in their wake than death and destruction — including insurance claims. And they're piling up. Strings of destructive storms in the U.S. throughout March are expected to cost the insurance industry more than $2 billion, according to a report from Aon Benfield, the global reinsurance branch of London-based Aon.… (more…)

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