Zeiler Insurance Services, Inc. | Zeiler Insurance Services, Inc.
|Are interns covered on Workers Compensation in Illinois?
Are interns covered on Work Comp?
It’s that time of year - Chicago area businesses will be adding college interns to their summer workforce. Whether they are paid interns or not - the question is “Are interns covered on workers compensation in Illinois?”.
99% of the time the answer is YES - interns are covered… even if unpaid. The question falls back to the definition of an employee and for this you can refer to the IRS website for the definition: The IRS sites Common Law Rules. If the intern is deemed an employee then under the Illinois Workers Compensation Act they would be covered on your Workers Compensation policy.
From the IRS website, Common Law Rules - Facts that provide evidence of the degree of control and independence fall into three categories:
- Behavioral: Does the company control or have the right to control what the worker does and how the worker does his or her job?
- Financial: Are the business aspects of the worker’s job controlled by the payer? (these include things like how worker is paid, whether expenses are reimbursed, who provides tools/supplies, etc.)
- Type of Relationship: Are there written contracts or employee type benefits (i.e. pension plan, insurance, vacation pay, etc.)? Will the relationship continue and is the work performed a key aspect of the business?
Businesses must weigh all these factors when determining whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor. Some factors may indicate that the worker is an employee, while other factors indicate that the worker is an independent contractor. There is no “magic” or set number of factors that “makes” the worker an employee or an independent contractor, and no one factor stands alone in making this determination. Also, factors which are relevant in one situation may not be relevant in another.
The keys are to look at the entire relationship, consider the degree or extent of the right to direct and control, and finally, to document each of the factors used in coming up with the determination.
Please call with questions.
POSTED MAY 22, 2018 5:50 PM
|Building Property of Others Coverage in Illinois
Illinois Building Property of Others Coverage in Illinois
I know I have talked about this in the past, but I have been running into a lot of leases recently that address this topic. I am seeing more and more leases where the landlord is pushing responsibility onto the tenant in regards to the Maintenance, Repair and Replacement of building property owned by the landlord.
This video covers a key area within a lease agreement in which many tenants of Chicago, Illinois should be aware.
For additional information or a review of your lease feel free to contact me.
POSTED MAY 22, 2018 5:09 PM
|What Happens When Your Home Insurance Doesn't Cover Self-Defense Shootings?
Gun ownership is a very serious responsibility. Most licensed gun owners are conscientious and informed about gun laws and their rights and responsibilities under those laws. Many people own guns as a means of protecting their family and property. But even the most responsible gun owner can be faced with an unfortunate incident that leads to a lawsuit or even criminal charges. The costs to defend yourself in either case can decimate your finances.
There is an increasing need for gun owners to protect themselves after accidentally or purposefully discharging a firearm, even in an act of self-defense.
Protection Options for Gun Owners
Gun owner insurance is actually a variety of insurance products developed specifically for gun owners. You may encounter it under names like concealed carry insurance, CCW insurance, personal firearm protection insurance, self-defense insurance, or stand your ground coverage. The name of the product is far less important than knowing what it covers, and what it does not. It is important to assess the type of coverage you might need, and find the product that gives you peace of mind.
Large insurance companies have for the most part steered clear of offering CCW insurance, fearing any association with the controversial topic of gun violence. But gun owners looking for concealed carry insurance still have several options.
There are only a few insurance companies that offer gun owner insurance. The products vary significantly in terms of what they cover and the amount of coverage they offer (dollar limits or caps on coverage). Some policies, for example, will not offer coverage if you are charged with a crime. Others may provide coverage for court costs, but won’t cover your initial attorney retainer.
Gun owner insurance is available through certain gun owners’ associations and some small, regional insurers. Most gun owners are interested in policies that protect them in cases of self-defense and accidental discharge, so most of the policies offered will fall under names like concealed carry insurance or self-defense insurance. The likelihood of being involved in such an event is very low, so the coverage is typically very affordable—perhaps only $150 to $600 per year depending on the plan you choose.
Here are some typical self-defense insurance offerings:
· Legal defense services plans: This is not an insurance product, but rather a subscription to access a network of attorneys who specialize in defending self-defense cases. You pay a yearly fee, and the defense service is obligated to provide the agreed-upon legal services. They will help you hire an attorney that specializes in civil and criminal defense. The outcome of the trial has no bearing on whether they will provide the services.
· Concealed carry insurance: These insurance products provide coverage (up to a specified limit) for civil defense, criminal defense, defense attorney retainers, bodily injury and property damage expenses, and even lost wages for you while you are in court. These policies typically only provide coverage for acts of self-defense.
· Gun association policies: Some gun owners’ groups, such as the National Rifle Association, offer insurance with your group membership (at extra cost). These policies may cover your civil defense and damages, criminal defense, lost wages, and even bail bonds.
Gun Ownership in the U.S.
“A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was adopted on December 15, 1791. It protects the right of the American people to keep and bear arms.
Today, gun ownership remains high in the U.S.:
· In 2015, about 41% of U.S. households had at least one gun.
· Gun ownership has remained relatively steady since 1972, when 43% of American households had at least one gun.
· Gun ownership is highest in the South, with 51% of households owning one or more firearm in 2014.
· The East has the lowest concentration of gun owners, with only 31% of households owning one or more firearms in 2014.
All fifty states allow concealed carry of certain firearms in public by appropriately qualified and licensed individuals. Concealed carry, or carrying a concealed weapon (CCW), means carrying a weapon on your person in such a way that others cannot see it (such as in a bag or under your clothing). Concealed carry laws and regulations vary by state.
Some states also allow for open carry, which is visibly carrying a firearm on your person in public. Open carry laws also vary by state.
Why Do You Need Concealed Carry Insurance?
Insurance of any kind is designed to protect you from the unexpected. If you are forced to use your licensed firearm in self-defense, chances are it is just the beginning of a very serious set of circumstances. Even if you acted lawfully, you can be charged with a crime and forced to prove that you acted legally and within your rights to defend yourself or your property. You will need to hire an attorney, and if the case goes to court you will accrue a mountain of legal bills. Regardless of the outcome, defending yourself will be very costly.
Even if you are not charged with a crime, or if you are cleared in criminal court, you may still face a civil lawsuit seeking compensation for bodily injury or property damage caused by your gun. An accident or the act of defending yourself or your family could leave you with a seemingly never-ending pile of legal bills and related expenses.
Insurance companies and gun owners have recognized the need for an insurance product that can help protect you from the costs associated with criminal charges and civil lawsuits that result from the use of a firearm. Insurance products and legal service subscriptions are available that can help you pay your defense and other costs related to the following types of gun incidents:
· Self-defense: It is generally permissible under the law to use reasonable force to protect yourself or members of your family from bodily harm by an aggressor if you have reason to believe that you or your family members are in danger. However, any case of self-defense will be thoroughly investigated, and you may be charged with a crime and required to defend yourself in court.
· Negligent or reckless discharge: Most states prohibit the negligent or reckless discharge of a weapon, such as celebratory shooting or reckless target shooting. If you fire a weapon in a way that injures someone or causes property damage, you can be charged with a crime or sued in civil court for damages.
· Unlawful personal firearm use: If you fire your weapon under certain circumstances prohibited by gun laws (firing across a highway, firing from a moving vehicle), you can be charged with a crime or sued in civil court for damages to persons or property.
Does My Homeowners Insurance Have Any Type of Protection?
You might assume you have some coverage under the liability portion of your homeowners policy if you harm someone or damage someone’s property with your firearm. But in fact, most homeowners insurance policies specifically exclude coverage for “intentional acts” including firing a gun—even in self-defense.
Some homeowners insurance policies contain an exception to the standard intentional acts exclusion. This is often called the “self-defense” or “reasonable force” exception. It allows for coverage for bodily injury resulting from the use of reasonable force by an insured person who is acting in self-defense.
Keep in mind that most homeowners insurance policies do not include this exception. Even if your policy does have this exception, coverage will only apply if you are faced with a civil lawsuit. If you are charged with a crime related to the discharge of your firearm, you will be out of luck.
How to Find the Best Concealed Carry Insurance for Your Needs
Ultimately it is your responsibility to thoroughly investigate what type of coverage you need and which product offers the best protection. You may want to enlist the help of an independent insurance agent to help you understand your options.
Before you purchase additional coverage, find out if you have any coverage under your homeowners insurance policy.
It is important to know your state laws before you shop for concealed carry insurance. Does your state have a “stand your ground” law that protects individuals from being sued in lawful self-defense cases? If you are legally protected from being sued in criminal court, do you need coverage that protects you from civil lawsuits?
Learn about the different types of coverage available and decide what you need. Be aware that concealed carry coverage is always limited in some way. Most CCW insurance products will only pay a small fraction of what it will cost you to defend yourself.
Here are some things to ask about when purchasing concealed carry insurance:
· Does it cover both civil and criminal court cases?
· Does it cover attorney fees, court costs, mistrials, and appeals?
· Does it cover bail bonds?
· Does it cover investigation costs and witness fees?
· Does it cover an initial attorney retainer?
· Does it offer coverage across state lines?
· What is the coverage cap (the maximum amount it will cover) for each element of your case?
· Does it cover your spouse, or do you need to purchase additional coverage?
Remember that no state requires gun owners to have concealed carry insurance. In recent years, nine states have considered legislation that requires gun owners to purchase certain types of insurance, but none has been enacted.
Give us a call with any questions.
POSTED MAY 15, 2018 5:56 PM
|Cruise for a Cause - Benefitting Sertoma Centre, Inc.
Be a part of Chicago's largest fundraiser on the water - hosted by our very own Mitchell Zeiler. The event will benefit Sertoma Centre, Inc., who works with individuals who have intellectual disabilities throughout the Chicagoland area. Mitchell has volunteered his time with Sertoma for the past two years on their Associate Board.
Join hundreds as we board the beautiful Anita Dee II and cruise the Chicago skyline for a cause! The cruise will feature a grand finale firework show over Navy Pier with live entertainment and premium cocktails are included.
To purchase tickets or for sponsorship opportunities, Click Here.
Any questions? Contact Mitchell Zeiler at 708.408.5779 or firstname.lastname@example.org
A little history on Mitchell's involvement: In high school, he was heavily involved in a Best Buddy program where they had students mentor special needs children. Mitchell was moved by the friendships and bonds he created so he continued in a basketball coaching role. After graduating from Western Michigan University, he joined SWSRA (South West Special Recreation Association) and coached in a young adult’s basketball league, where his team won the State Championship in 2015.
We hope to see you all there!
POSTED MAY 15, 2018 4:17 PM
|When a Little White Lie Leads to Jail Time: What Insurance Fraud Is and How to Avoid It
Most people assume a little white lie is harmless. When you’re filing an insurance claim for damages after a car accident, maybe you include damage to your fender that you know happened long before the accident in question. When you’re filling out an application for home insurance, maybe you conveniently forget to disclose that you have a pool in your backyard. It can’t hurt to fudge the truth a little, right? When it comes to insurance, even a small lie can carry big consequences. In fact, if you are convicted of committing insurance fraud, you could end up paying enormous fines, doing months of community service, or even spending time behind bars. Insurance fraud is no laughing matter, so it’s important to know what it is and how you can avoid it.
What Is Insurance Fraud?
The most basic definition of insurance fraud is deceiving an insurance company in order to receive compensation or other undeserved benefits. This could be a white lie on an insurance application, an exaggerated claim for damages or injuries, or even a claim that is blatantly false.
In most cases, people choose to commit insurance fraud in hopes of gaining some sort of monetary benefit. Maybe you’ve paid your home insurance premiums faithfully year after year, so you feel entitled to some sort of repayment. You submit a false claim for property damage in hopes of receiving some financial benefit from your policy. It might seem harmless, but it could land you a felony conviction and over a year in prison.
Two Types of Insurance Fraud
The American judicial system separates fraudulent cases into two categories: hard fraud and soft fraud. In the case of hard fraud, the perpetrator fakes an injury, theft, or accident in hopes of receiving money from an insurance company.
For instance, Joe loses his job and the bills start piling up. Desperate for some cash to get him back on his feet, he fakes a robbery. He breaks a window, turns over some tables and smashes some vases in the living room. Then he makes a police report, claiming he was robbed. Joe files an insurance claim, stating that the burglars stole some expensive electronics and antique jewelry. He hopes to receive a nice check for his troubles, but instead he receives a visit from an insurance fraud investigator. Soon, he is facing a felony charge for hard fraud.
Soft fraud is similar to hard fraud, but on a smaller scale. In this case, the perpetrator has a valid insurance claim, but simply exaggerates the actual damages to increase their monetary reward. For instance, Mary is driving to work one day when another vehicle rear-ends her at a stoplight. Even though she wasn’t injured during the accident, she files a claim stating she has subsequent back pain requiring ongoing visits to a chiropractor. While it’s only a partial lie, it is still considered soft fraud and is highly illegal.
What Is the Penalty for Insurance Fraud?
When a person is caught committing insurance fraud, the penalties can be quite severe. Soft fraud is considered a misdemeanor in most states, but it still carries heavy penalties that include fines, probation, community service, and even jail time. Hard fraud cases are always considered felonies, doing permanent damage to your public record. If convicted of hard fraud, a perpetrator can be sentenced to more than a year in prison, major fines, and restitution payable to the insurance provider. Oftentimes, fraud cases develop into criminal trials, uncovering multiple levels of criminal activity that can carry serious legal ramifications.
How Do You Report Insurance Fraud?
If you suspect someone has committed insurance fraud, it’s important to gather as much information as possible before you file a report. You will need the perpetrator’s name, the insurance provider’s name, and the dates when you suspect fraudulent activity took place. The more proof you have, the better your case will be. You can report insurance fraud by contacting any of the following authorities:
· State bureau for fraud
· All involved insurance companies
· State medical board
· The National Insurance Crime Bureau
Busted. Real World Cases of Insurance Fraud Revealed:
- Home Insurance Fraud: Indianapolis Man Sentenced to 50 Years Behind Bars: When Mark Leonard realized he would never find a way out of his mounting credit card and gambling debts, he took extreme measures and attempted to stage arson in an effort to receive $300,000 in compensation from the insurance company. He filled his home with natural gas and used a microwave on a timer to spark a fire. However, the explosion was much larger than expected, killing his neighbors instantly and doing damage to at least 80 other homes in the subdivision. By the time it was over, there was more than $5 million of damage. Jurors later convicted Leonard on more than 50 counts, sentencing him to up to 50 years in prison.
- Health Insurance Fraud: Doc Faces a Decade in Prison for Unlawfully Billing Insurance: Dr. Aria Sabit thought he had managed to con the system until his empire came crumbling down. Authorities discovered that he was performing unnecessary spinal surgeries and illegally billing insurance companies for the operations. The US Attorney’s Office estimated that Sabit illegally billed insurance providers for $11 million before he was caught. Now the former surgeon is facing a decade in prison, a small price to pay for such a far-reaching crime.
- Life Insurance Fraud: Florida Man Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison for Faking His Own Death: Jose Lantigua was sure his get-rich-quick scheme would work out perfectly. He faked his own death, complete with a funeral and cremation paperwork, in an effort to cash in on a $9 million life insurance policy. But authorities soon discovered that Lantigua was actually alive, thanks to a forged passport and a stolen social security number that were tracked to a remote home in the mountains of North Carolina. That’s where they found him hiding, wearing an ill-fitting toupee. Now the man is facing 10 years in prison for his foiled plot to deceive the insurance company.
The Moral of the Story: Don’t Falsify Insurance Claims
While these stories of insurance fraud might seem outrageous, this kind of deception happens every single day. Whether it’s a slight exaggeration or an outright lie, any type of falsehood involving your insurance can carry heavy consequences. Ultimately, it’s just not worth it. If you don’t want to wind up behind bars, make honesty a priority each time you deal with your insurance company.
POSTED MAY 15, 2018 5:00 AM
|We are free because of the brave.
Zeiler Insurance Services, Inc. wishes you and your family a safe and happy Memorial Day Weekend! Our offices will be closed on Monday, May 28th, 2018 in observance of those who have lost their lives serving our country.
Dan can be reached on his cell in the event of an emergency at 708.436.2973
You will also find 24/7 phone numbers for claims and billing for our companies on our website: www.zeiler.com
For more on this holiday, Click Here.
POSTED MAY 08, 2018 5:00 AM
|3 Ways the Insurance Industry Can Kick Distracted Driving to the Curb
Driver distraction is a leading cause of vehicle accidents. Nearly 80% of vehicle crashes involve driver inattention, according to research conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.
Eating and drinking, talking to a fellow passenger, applying makeup, programming a GPS or navigation system, or simply adjusting the radio all qualify as distracted driving. But using a cellphone while behind the wheel is undoubtedly the biggest cause.
According to a study conducted by Cambridge Metrics Telematics (CMT) last year, phone distraction occurred in 52% of trips that resulted in a crash—an unsurprising statistic considering that same study found that 75% of drivers see other drivers on their phones every day.
Joan Woodward, president of the Travelers Institute and executive vice president of public policy for Travelers, has observed a dramatic spike in fatalities on the road as a result of distracted driving in the last couple of years. “That got our attention,” she says.
According to the latest annual Travelers Risk Index, 40% of drivers polled admitted they have been involved in an accident or almost caused an accident because of their own distracted driving. “Those numbers are self-reported, of course,” Woodward says. “But people are saying that they’re doing this more and more.”
And the increase is making everyone nervous: 63% of drivers are more afraid of distracted drivers than drunk drivers, according to the CMT study.
Because of national education campaigns and law enforcement, drunk driving is both socially stigmatized and punishable with hefty fines, disqualification and imprisonment. In 2018, however, the same cannot be said about distracted driving.
According to Sam Madden, chief scientist, CMT, there is no doubt about the source of the first rise in road fatalities the insurance industry has noticed in a long time. “We see alcohol-related deaths are down, the educational campaigns around alcohol are working, and yet the number of fatalities is going up for the first time,” he says. “We certainly believe that’s a result of distracted driving.”
Penalties for distracted driving vary by state. Most levy fines under $400, while five states do not have any laws against it at all. And if law enforcement isn’t going to put the brakes on distracted driving, “the insurance industry really should be at the forefront of raising this as an issue,” Woodward says.
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, which makes now an ideal time to bring up the issue in conversation. Here are three ways that the insurance industry can kick distracted driving to the curb:
Education. Few drivers are aware that texting while driving at 55 mph is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed. In an effort to change people’s attitudes about the dangers of distracted driving, the Travelers Institute® Every Second Matters initiative provides statistics, conversations starters and quizzes.
“Our campaign is focused on the social norm—to change people’s awareness and to say that this really is not OK,” says Woodward. “It’s just not OK to text your way all the way to work or always be on the phone while you’re in the car.”
“This is not a problem that is just going to go away on its own,” Madden agrees. “As a society, we just have to accept that it is not OK for thousands of young people to die every year because of smartphones. We have to make people aware of it.”
Technology. Paradoxically, on the same device that facilitates most distracted driving, apps are becoming available that help drivers educate themselves about the amount of time they spend distracted when they’re behind the wheel—data which insurers can also incorporate into rating tools.
CMT’s DriveWell app does exactly that. “When you put this app in peoples’ hands, it makes them realize that they actually are engaging in distracted driving,” Madden says. “Results show that within a couple weeks, people reduce distracted driving behavior by 30% or more on average.”
Employers. One of the most common reasons drivers use their cellphones while driving is due to work. According to Travelers, 43% of employed American adults who drive admit to making work-related communications such as emails and calls while driving. And 27% say their boss has called or texted them even though they knew they were driving.
In a survey of Travelers’ customers, only 27% of commercial clients reported having a formal policy on distracted driving that was strictly enforced.
“We’re urging all our commercial lines clients to have a very strict policy in place for their employees about distracted driving—not only to have it, but to put it into practice,” Woodward says. “That’s really the key to curbing some of these commercial auto losses.”
POSTED APRIL 24, 2018 6:26 PM
|Personal Watercraft Insurance and Safety
What is personal watercraft insurance?
Personal watercraft (known by brand names like Jet Skis, Sea-Doos or WaveRunners) can be lots fun on the water. But, like any moving vehicles, they are subject to accidents and it’s wise to get the proper insurance to protect yourself financially.
Unlike small boats, personal watercraft are not generally covered by homeowners insurance (and in the rare cases they are, coverage limits are low). Personal watercraft insurance (PWC) is specifically designed in order to insure these vessels. A personal watercraft policy covers you or someone who you've allowed to operate your craft for incidents that result in:
· Bodily injury to another person.
· Bodily injury to you that is caused by an uninsured watercraft operator.
· Liability: that is, legal costs if you're sued due to an accident. Most policies also include water sports liability, which covers risks associated with activities such as waterskiing.
· Property damage: for example, to another watercraft, a boat or a dock.
Deductibles and liability limits vary by policy and by company. PWC also may cover:
· Theft of the personal watercraft.
· Towing, if the watercraft is in an accident.
Additional coverage can also be purchased for trailers and other accessories. If you have several personal watercraft, you may qualify for a multi-boat discount on your insurance.
Personal watercraft safety
As jet skis are fun and deceptively easy to use, many people fail to realize that personal watercraft also can be dangerous - in fact, each year they cause thousands of serious injuries.
To safely enjoy your personal watercraft:
· Keep appropriate distance from other personal watercraft. Eighty percent of all injuries and fatalities occur when two personal watercraft collide with one another. Because these vessels can travel at a very high rate of speed, to avoid collision each rider must be able to react to sudden changes. To ensure your safety, stay at least 100 yards behind the vessel in front, and no less than 50 yards to one side.
· Don’t jump the wake of a passing boat. You could misjudge its speed and cause a collision. Or you might end up in the path of traffic coming from the other direction.
· Stay alert! Be aware of what is going on around you. In addition to other watercraft, steer clear of swimmers, divers, water skiers and fishermen.
For more information on Boat Insurance, Click Here.
Give us a call to get your Summer toys ready!
POSTED APRIL 24, 2018 6:11 PM
|Do I Really Need Disability Insurance?
There are lots of things no one wants to talk about - disability insurance is one of them. But the longer you ignore it, the less protected you are against long term financial risks due to unexpected illnesses and injuries.
Read on for guidance and answers to common questions about disability insurance. This information can help you get started and make the best decision based on your specific needs.
1. If you or others depend on your income - you need it.
If you have people who depend on your income - or if you depend on your income - you need disability insurance. You might be surprised to learn that social security disability benefits are not available if you are expected to be out of work for less than a year. One year without income could deplete your savings and have a significant impact on your finances.
2. Disability insurance replaces a portion of your income when you can’t work.
If you were unable to work due to illness or injury, disability insurance can help to pay your most essential expenses, including food, utilities, school tuition, home and car payments.
3. Most long-term absences are due to illnesses, not accidents.
While many people think that disabilities are typically caused by accidents, the majority of long-term absences are actually due to illness.
4. You need it even if you’re young and healthy.
Almost 1 in 4 of today’s 20 year-olds will become disabled before reaching age 67. What’s more, it’s easier and less expensive to get disability insurance when you’re young and healthy.
5. The risk of a disability during your working years may be greater than you think.
The risk of suffering a disabling illness or injury may be more likely than you realize. As stated above, at least 1 in 4 of today’s 20-year-olds can expect to be out of work for at least a year because of a disability before they reach retirement age. Disability insurance helps you maintain a steady stream of income when you can’t work due to illness or injury.
6. A good rule of thumb is to protect 60-80% of your after-tax income.
You will need to meet your essential living expenses if you should become disabled. 72% of consumer expenditures cover essential needs like housing, food, transportation, health care and education.
7. Some disability insurance is better than no disability insurance.
When budgets are especially tight, it still makes sense to buy enough disability insurance to cover rent or mortgage payments and keep your family in their home should you become disabled. Disability insurance is more affordable than you may think. For example, a healthy 35 year-old male may obtain a $1,000 monthly benefit for an initial premium of approximately $25 per month.
8. Make sure you know how much disability insurance you get at work.
Check to see if disability coverage is made available to you through your employee benefits package. You might want to look carefully at coverage, however, since group benefits alone may not be enough due to potential benefit limitations and types of income covered.
9. There is no substitute for good advice.
Seek advice on how much insurance is right for your needs. Give us a call. Whichever approach works best for you, taking action to protect you and your family with disability insurance is an important part of a strong financial plan.
10. The financial strength and reputation of the company you buy from matters.
When you purchase disability insurance, the company you buy from is making a long-term commitment to you. If you become disabled, there is a chance you will receive benefits for an extended period of time, so it makes sense to buy from a company with experience, financial strength and a solid reputation.
POSTED APRIL 24, 2018 5:35 PM
|Why do today’s homes burn faster?
From building materials to furnishings, many of the things in your home likely aren’t as flame-resistant as those from yesteryear. A fire in a modern home is a “perfect storm,” according to safety consulting and certification company UL (Underwriters Laboratories). Larger homes, more open layouts, new construction materials and other factors mean fires burn more quickly, leaving less time for occupants to escape - and for firefighters to stop the flames. How much less time? About 30 years ago, you had about 17 minutes to get out of the house once it caught fire. Today? Just three or four minutes.
A lot goes into creating that “perfect storm,” experts say. Here are some key factors:
Building materials. Particle board and other man-made materials, which are lighter and cheaper than natural wood, often are used to construct homes today. This leads to larger homes at a lower cost, but they also burn more quickly than solid wood, concrete or masonry.
More space - and more stuff. Fires can spread quickly in homes that are largely open, with high ceilings, etc. And homes that are bigger typically have more things in them - which means there’s more fuel for the fire.
Newer stuff. The old days of couches, carpets, etc., made from all-natural materials are long gone. That’s great news for durability and price, but it’s not great for limiting fires. Though many modern furnishings are excellent at resisting smoldering (such as if a cigarette is dropped), once they actually catch fire, they burn very quickly.
What can you do? Well, unless you’re having a house built or doing an extensive remodel, you can’t really change the materials used to construct your home. However, there are a few things you should do immediately to help keep you and your family safe, no matter where you live:
Make sure your smoke detectors are in working order.
Create an escape plan for you and your family.
Place fire extinguishers on each level of your home, as well as in the garage.
To learn more about fire safety, check out these tips from the American Red Cross. Because the best fire protection of all is preventing one from starting in the first place!
POSTED APRIL 24, 2018 5:00 AM