What Makes a House a Home?

When you look around your home, chances are you don’t just see four walls and a roof. You also see the marks on the walls where you lovingly marked your children’s height so you could watch them grow. You see the chair your dad always sat in on Christmas morning, and the fireplace you all gathered around in the evening. A home is so much more than just a house.

When you purchase your homeowners insurance with Erie Insurance, we want to protect your house and your home. Our ErieSecure HomeSM insurance program is one of the most comprehensive coverage packages in the industry. It protects 100 percent of the value of your home in case of total destruction. It offers blanket coverages for jewelry and other valuable items you own in case of theft or destruction. It offers customizable protection to make sure your house is covered in ways that make sense for you.
We might not always be able to save the things that make your house a home—those marks on the wall or that favored chair. But ErieSecure Home makes sure that when the worst happens, you can pick up, go on and start creating new memories. And we think that’s pretty special.
Call us today to find out how you can cover your home.

Chimney Check-Up

The fireplace may be a happy spot for the family to gather ‘round. But did you know that fireplaces and chimneys caused 23,100 residential fires in the United States in 2013—and that those blazes caused $109.1 million in property damage and 10 fatalities?1

Statistics like these drive home the importance of scheduling an annual chimney inspection. Ashley Eldridge, director of education at the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), says that even homeowners who don’t use their fireplaces should spring for an inspection. That’s because a home’s other heating devices also release toxic gases through the chimney; when debris clogs its escape, those harmful fumes remain in your home.

“Preventative measures are typically much less expensive than repairs when you have a crisis,” Eldridge says. “It just makes sense to be ahead of the curve.”

Why a chimney inspection?

An inspector can check for one big culprit of chimney fires—creosote, which is a thick, gummy substance that’s a byproduct of burning wood. Creosote causes most chimney fires, including one recently inspected by ERIE Property Adjuster Sandi Benes. That chimney’s creosote buildup caused a blaze that destroyed $23,000 worth of property. How’d it happen? The homeowner decided to clean out his chimney on his own.

To reduce the risk of a creosote-caused fire, Benes recommends hiring a pro and burning only designated firewood. “Burning green wood or soft wood with resin in it increases creosote buildup,” she explains.

Chimney inspections usually cost between $100 and $300 and fall into one of two levels.

Level One Inspection
During a level one inspection, the inspector will spend about an hour to measure all the readily accessible components of the chimney, like the size of the firebox and the clearance from the stove. From there, he or she will decide if your chimney needs a sweep.

A chimney merits a sweep for a number of reasons, but the main ones include debris blocking the air ducts and creosote build-up. “Birds and squirrels are a very real issue,” says Eldridge, who has also seen everything from clumps of leaves to basketballs stuck in chimneys. “Animals can set up camp in there, and it can be really unpleasant.”

Debris that’s not removed is a big risk factor for causing a fire or trapping poisonous gases like carbon monoxide in your home. Besides an annual chimney inspection, it’s also worth checking out a chimney cap. These tools fit over the flue to keep debris—as well as damaging water—out.

Level Two Inspection
A more thorough level two chimney inspection is a worthwhile investment for new homeowners who haven’t had a level one inspection. A level two inspection requires the chimney sweep to get on the roof to makes additional measurements, such as the distance of the chimney to any combustibles.

To learn more about each level and what it entails, check out this video from the CSIA.

Finding a super sweep

The CSIA lists more than 1,300 sweeps who earned the CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep® Credential. This credential proves a sweep has a superior understanding of the tools, techniques and processes to get the job done right. What’s more, all CSIA-certified sweeps pledge to uphold a code of ethics.

To locate a CSIA-certified chimney sweep in your area, check out the CSIA home page. Your sweep probably won’t have a Cockney accent and a song a la “Mary Poppins.” But he or she will have the know-how to help you safely enjoy your home and hearth all winter long.


Erie Insurance receives JD Power Award

Erie Insurance received the highest numerical score in the J.D. Power 2013–2017 U.S. Insurance Shopping Studies (tied in 2016). 2017 study based on 16,424 total responses, evaluating 21 providers, and measures the experiences and perceptions of customers surveyed between April 2016 to January 2017. Your experiences may vary. Visit jdpower.com

A Q&A with Life Insurance Awareness Month Spokesperson Danica Patrick


Fitness touches so many aspects of our lives-mind, body and we like to think, finances. What’s your view of fitness?
When you’re taking care of yourself, whether it’s your health or what you eat or your finances, it’s about self-worth.  Either you’re worth taking care of in all aspects, or you’re not. So developing more self-worth is something everyone-including myself-can do.

What does financial fitness mean to you?
There’s the obvious, which is that you have to have enough to support yourself and have financial stability. But then there’s the other side of it and that’s just being OK with less, so knowing no matter what happens you’ll be OK. I’d also say it’s about not viewing finances as always the driving force, and trying to do things that make you happy and coming to the conclusion that while money can make you happy on a certain level, ultimately your true happiness-your soul-happiness doesn’t come from having a bigger bank account.

How did your parents shape your views on finances?
We didn’t have a lot growing up. We didn’t go out to eat a lot; we didn’t take vacations; we wore the same clothes a lot. But I feel my parents did a good job prioritizing what was important. They raised two kids, and we didn’t feel we wanted for anything. Just cutting out the unnecessary is part of the necessary when you don’t have as much. But they also made it fun. When they bought our house, they spent their last $100 on a picnic table-which is pretty much the same price it still is today!

I also think learning how to do things on your own is part of financial fitness, and that’s something I learned from my parents. If something breaks, you can fix it. If healthy food is expensive, you can grow a garden. If you’re looking to save money, you can cook dinner at home, which might cost you a few dollars, versus going out, which might cost you $50.

What role does life insurance play in a fit financial plan?
I think part of being fit, in any aspect of life, is about reducing stress. Life insurance is something you can do that can take a source of stress out of your life instantly. When you’re younger, you’re spending, and those bills and your mortgage or rent wouldn’t magically go away if something happened to you. If you weren’t around, who’s going to take care of those bills? That’s what life insurance is for.

Life insurance is one of those things that you can completely customize to meet your needs and your ability to pay, so it can be as big or small as you need it to be. Once you have your life insurance in place, it’s pretty straightforward-you just update it every so often to accommodate your needs.

But so many people procrastinate getting life insurance. What do you think can get them over the hump?
We tend to put things off that we don’t know how to do. It’s about asking for help and not assuming you know the way. I didn’t have the answers, so I asked for help. And if you ask for help, there’s always somebody who’s willing to offer it. I also think that whenever you ask for help, you tend to get a better result than if you just decided to go and do it on your own.

Then, write it down. It sounds remedial, but if something’s written down, I tend to do it. Put it on your calendar or to-do list and have that meeting.

We love your Instagram feed and all the fitness photos you post. Any health hacks you’d like to share?
Put yourself first-take care of you. Put food in your body like you care about it and want to take care of it, not just for today, but 20 years from now. That means eating real food. If it can sit on your shelf for a long time, there’s probably a reason you shouldn’t be eating it.

And second, I’d say do something that pushes you; do something that’s difficult. From a fitness perspective, if you work out and you get done and someone asks, “Was that hard?” and you say “Not really,” well, then why’d you do it? Do something that pushes you, because you get out of it what you put into it.

You have a book coming out: “Pretty Intense.” Anything you can share with us today?
Live your life with purpose, and have some intentions. So if your intention is to be around for a long time and not have stress in your life, then limit the stresses as much as you can.

Life Happens does not endorse any insurance company, product or advisor. Danica Patrick is the national spokesperson for Life Insurance Awareness Month 2017, and her services were retained by Life Happens. Danica Patrick is a paid spokesperson for Life Happens.

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