Stay-at-Home Safety Check: How to Outsmart 4 Common Risks

young child reaches for pan on stove

Even though some states have started easing restrictions due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, you still may be spending most of your time at home. (See how ERIE is responding to the pandemic in our COVID-19 Information Center.)

With warmer weather, perhaps you’ve started tackling new projects like digging a garden, landscaping or teaching your kids how to master new chores.

However you’re spending your time, take a moment to familiarize yourself with four common safety risks that can be more prevalent during this era of social distancing.

How to Outsmart Four Common Safety Risks During Quarantine

Your local ERIE agent can explain how to protect the people and things that matter most by customizing your homeowners insurance. Here are four things worth talking about:

Risk No. 1: Cybercrime and phishing scams

The problem

Due to social distancing directives, many people are staying connected virtually (hello Zoom!) and doing more online shopping. While we’re fortunate to live in a day and age where this is possible, more time spent online comes with added risks. Be aware that as you engage in more of these activities, your exposure to cybercrime also increases.

Safety tips

The Federal Trade Commission warns against accepting an unexpected invite for a video conference, even if it’s sent by a name you know. Check with the “sender” to make sure it’s a real invitation before clicking on the link.

The same goes for emails, robocalls and text messages asking for you to provide personal or financial information. Scammers are getting savvy, so even if it’s a message from a friend, your bank or even your boss, call the company or person asking for this information to make sure it’s legit.

Coverage to consider

ERIE offers identity recovery coverage with all ErieSecure Home® bundles and as an add-on to our Home Protector policies. Through August 2020, we’re extending support services to assist in recovering from possible identity theft at no additional cost to include our customers’ extended family members, including those not residing with the policyholder. This includes:

  • Adult children (26 or older), their spouse and their children
  • Parents, including stepparents and legally adoptive parents
  • Siblings, including step-siblings and adoptive siblings

Related reading:

Risk No. 2: Stir-crazy kids

The problem

In addition to their around-the-clock snack requests, kids are getting bored… and into trouble. It only takes one flushed action figure or an aspiring culinary feast gone awry to result in a minor household damage claim.

Safety tips

  • Make sure you have a smoke detector on every floor in your home. Test your units every six months to ensure they’re working properly. For a long-term solution, consider a 10-year sealed lithium battery smoke detector.
  • Don’t forget about carbon monoxide detectors, too – especially near gas-fired furnaces or heating appliances.
  • Clear the space around your stovetop. Flammable items like wooden spoons and paper towels should be stored at a safe distance. Stow a general multi-purpose fire extinguisher in your kitchen, and learn how to use it.
  • Use brackets, anchors and other security equipment on items like televisions, dressers, bookshelves and any kind of furniture or appliance that could easily tip over.

Coverage to consider

If it’s been a while, talk to your local ERIE agent for a free coverage review of your homeowners insurance. Make sure to ask about Guaranteed Replacement Cost1 , so you can rest easy knowing that you’ll be able to rebuild your home after a major loss without worrying about depreciation or construction costs. With our Equipment Breakdown Coverage2 , included in the ErieSecure Home® Select bundle, you can get an extra cushion of protection for major appliances and home systems right in your homeowners policy when you also have Sewer and Drain Backup Coverage. The bundle is an option that can be added to your base policy for additional premium, so talk to your local agent about how to add it to yours.

Related reading:

Risk No. 3: Empty apartments or houses

The problem

If you’re sheltering in place with family or at a secondary home, your empty abode might be open to more risks, such as burglaries or undetected water leaks.

Safety tips:

  • Double-check all your home’s locks. Securely lock all windows and doors. Make sure that any sliding glass doors have security bolts installed.
  • Leave an outside light on (a motion-sensor light is ideal). Put indoor lights on timers. Safety experts claim that lighting may reduce burglary and vandalism by as much as 50 percent.
  • Install a monitored home security system.
  • Turn off the main water valve to your house. (In the winter, remember to drain water lines in the winter and keep a steady temperature to prevent frozen pipes.)
  • Test your sump pump to ensure it’s working properly.

Coverage to consider

Personal property coverage through your homeowners policy protects items inside your home from damage, theft and loss. Ask your local ERIE agent about adding sewer or drain backup coverage to your homeowners insurance policy. This endorsement provides coverage if water or sewage backs up into your house through sewers or drains, or overflows from inside a sump pump or other system designed to remove water that drains from your foundation. (Sublimits apply for this coverage.)

Related reading:

Risk No. 4: Slips, falls and dog bites

The problem

Social distancing may mean fewer trips to the store and more packages on your doorstep. But with a steady stream of people stepping foot on your property, an accidental stumble or an overly protective canine could turn into an injury — or even a lawsuit.

Safety tips:

  • Inspect your walkways and driveways. Your front walkway is a prime spot for a slip-and-fall accident, so have any cracked or uneven areas fixed ASAP.
  • Find a safe place for your pets. A constantly opening and closing door makes it easy for pets to escape and possibly harm a delivery person. A better idea is to keep pets in a secured room or wing of the house or have them in a safe place in your backyard if possible.
  • Test the railing for your front steps if you have one. If it feels rickety, take the time to secure it in place.

Coverage to consider

Your liability on your homeowners insurance policy can protect your assets in the event someone gets hurt on your property. ERIE also offers Personal Catastrophe Liability (PCL) policies for an extra layer of protection. Commonly called an umbrella policy, a PCL policy can add an extra $1 million or more to both your auto and your homeowners liability limits (Higher coverage amounts can be purchased. An ERIE agent can help you decide what’s right for you.)

Related reading:

Looking out for you

At Erie Insurance, we value your future security as well as your present needs. So we’re always thinking about ways to protect you, your loved ones and your home — both today and in the years ahead. Find a local ERIE agent to talk you through your coverage options and learn how you can protect what matters most.

1 Guaranteed Replacement Cost applies to dwelling and requires home improvements over $5,000 to be reported within 90 days - not available with all policies and in all states. Coverage of costs to comply with laws or ordinances is subject to limits and other restrictions. Depreciation will be deducted until repair or replacement is made. Talk to an ERIE agent for more information.

2 Coverage is not available if the Select bundle does not include sewer and drain backup. Coverage is capped at $50,000 per occurrence and the policy deductible applies.  Claims are subject to ERIE’s surcharge program. Details are contained in the policy. Subject to terms, conditions and exclusions. Not available in all states. Talk to an ERIE agent for policy details and state-specific policy information and refer to our disclaimer for additional information.

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