Water Leaks and Fallen Trees-Prepare for the Unexpected

Water leaks and storm damage are unexpected, messy and create an unwanted stress on your household. Preparing for them ahead of time can help ease some of that stress.

Water Leaks

Some common causes of water leaks are: cracked pipes, malfunctioning appliances, loosened connections, worn out seals, and freezing temperatures. Although it is difficult to know when a pipe or appliance will leak, regular inspections of old pipes and keeping an eye on aging appliances can help prevent water leaks in your home. As pipes age, they will show visible signs of rust and corrosion. Any slow leak needs to be addressed promptly by a plumber. Appliances that use water, such as water heaters, washing machines, ice makers, refrigerators, and dishwashers, will be at a higher risk to develop leaks as they age. When appliances near their 10-year mark their seals can become old and worn. If this occurs or the appliance is not performing as normal, it might not be a bad idea to call an appliance repair professional to inspect and service the appliance.

We live in a state that has extreme weather–and with this extreme weather comes freezing temperatures. Freezing temperatures can cause pipes to burst. However, this can be avoided with proper insulation and allowing faucets to drip during freezing weather. The small cost for a dripping faucet is far less compared to the costly repairs from a busted frozen pipe. In addition, water damage to your home can displace your family for weeks or months. Addressing leaks promptly, routine maintenance, and preventive steps can help your family avoid being displaced due to a significant water loss.

Should you be one of the unfortunate ones that does have a busted pipe or water leak, it is important to know what to do. Know ahead of time where the main water supply shut off to your home is. Turning off the main water supply is the first and most important step to take if there is a leak. Once you shut off the water supply, you will need to contact a plumber or appliance repair professional to locate the leak and do the proper repairs. The next step will be to start cleaning up the water immediately. A local and reputable water mitigation company can assist with the water cleanup. Friends and family that have had recent home repairs done are a good source to find a reputable water mitigation company. Your Farm Bureau Insurance agent is another great resource to help answer questions and provide additional information regarding what water damage your policy covers. 

Fallen Trees and Storm Damage to Roof   

Storms are unpredictable, but some of the resulting damage can be avoided. Wind and trees near your home are not a good combination, so a little preventive care can avoid a storm turning into a disaster. Keep an eye out for dead trees near your home and have them removed promptly. In addition, keep trees near your home trimmed and remove any leaning or shallow root trees such as pines. Often a little routine maintenance and a preventive mindset can help avoid a major disaster.

What do you do if a storm topples a tree onto your home? First, remove the fallen tree from your home. You can do this yourself or call a local tree removal service/roofer. Once the tree is removed from your home the roofer/contractor needs to cover your roof to prevent additional interior damage.  Depending on your policy and the cause of the damage, insurance will often provide help to pay for the removal of the tree and the covering of your roof.

Always try to call a local tree removal service or local roofer/contractor to get the tree off your home. It’s also a good idea to agree to a reasonable price up-front and in writing if possible. Beware of door-to-door solicitors after a storm or anyone asking for payment for the entire job up-front. Verify that the contractor is licensed and insist upon a contract in writing. Friends and family that have had recent home repairs done are a good source to find a reputable contractor/roofer. Your Farm Bureau Insurance agent is another good resource to help answer questions and provide additional information regarding what storm damage your policy covers.  

If something does happen to your home and you need to file a claim, please call our toll-free number any time at 1-866-275-7322.

Article provided by: Chris Vandergriff, Claims

Winter Weather Safety: How to Handle Black Ice

Winter weather brings with it a world of snowy beauty–but with that comes some perils. One of the more dangerous cold weather hazards is black ice. The term “black ice” in itself is somewhat of a misnomer, as the ice is actually transparent, which is what makes it so perilous. However, you can protect yourself by understanding and knowing how to deal with this winter issue.

Places to expect black ice include areas with shade, tunnels, overpasses, and bridges—where the cold nature of metal causes ice to form quickly. Early morning and overcast days also tend to allow ice more time to form, as the sun has not had a chance to melt any formations.

It is not always possible to avoid black ice however, so here are some tips on how to drive safely over the hazard:

  1. Remain calm. While it may be difficult at the time, the biggest thing you can do if you hit a patch of black ice is to react calmly and do as little as possible and allow the car to pass over the ice.
  2. Try not to hit the brakes. While it is natural to want to brake when you feel your vehicle swerve, braking will actually make you lose control and skid. It is best to instead ease off of the gas and calmly tap the brakes to slow down.
  3. Keep the steering wheel straight. It is important to firmly hold your steering wheel straight to avoid swerving off the road or into oncoming traffic. However, if you feel the back end of your vehicle sliding left or right, make a very gentle turn in the same direction to help correct the issue.
  4. Head for areas of traction. Look for areas with gravel, sand, white snow, etc. These spots will give your vehicle some much-needed traction and give you time to right the course.
  5. Practice makes perfect. If possible, try to practice your winter weather driving as often as possible in safe surroundings. Large, empty parking lots are an ideal spot on an icy day to practice braking on the ice, and learning how your vehicle handles in these conditions.

If you do happen to get into an accident due to black ice, remember that Farm Bureau Insurance’s Claims Department is here for you 24/7—with local adjusters and fast, friendly service. Just report any type of claim through our Customer Service Center toll-free number: 1-866-275-7322.

The Most Haunted Places in Arkansas

Happy Halloween! It’s the spookiest month of the year, so we want to highlight some of the most haunted places in Arkansas. This is the perfect season for a brisk walk through your oldest local cemetery, a stay in a haunted hotel, or booking a ghost tour!

Arkansas’ Haunted Hotels

Crescent Hotel – Eureka Springs

The Crescent Hotel is probably the best known haunted location in Arkansas. It has been featured on SyFy’s Ghost Hunters and Paranormal Witness and the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures. Crescent Hotel was built in 1886, near natural hot springs, as a luxury health retreat. An Irish carpenter is said to have fallen to his death from room 218 during construction. (Many believe his ghost haunts that room.) Later it became a women’s college (where a young woman fell — or was pushed—to her death from a top story window), and then, a summer hotel.

In 1937 a quack “doctor” named Norman Baker bought the Crescent and turned it into a hospital, where he claimed he could cure cancer.  Baker had no medical training, and many patients died under his care. His treatments were often barbaric and painful, such as drilling holes in patients’ skulls and performing basement surgeries.

In addition to the carpenter, the hotel is said to be haunted by former patients and hospital staff. Reports of terrifying happenings include hands coming out of bathroom mirrors, cries of pain, gurneys rattling down halls, pots and pans flying around the kitchen, and doors slamming shut on their own. Spirits in Victorian dress have been spotted in the dining room. Recently, archeologists excavated Baker’s medical tools.

Curious to know more? The Crescent Hotel offers ghost tours year round.

Read about other haunted Arkansas hotels

Arkansas’ Haunted Railroad Tracks

Crossett Lights – 425 Ashley Rd., Crossett

Legend has it that long ago, two Missouri Pacific railroad employees got into a fight over unionizing, and one of them beheaded the other. Or maybe a conductor was decapitated in a freak train accident. Or maybe it’s just swamp gas. There are various stories to explain the source of the mysterious Crossett lights, which many people have reported seeing. They bob along the road that covers old railroad tracks. Sometimes they look like old railroad lanterns, but other times they appear in various forms and colors.

Want to know more? Check out the railroad tracks in Gurdon, where people have also seen bizarre lights.

Arkansas’ Haunted Mansions

The Allen House – Monticello

This Queen Anne mansion was built in 1906, by local businessman Joe Lee Allen. He lived in the home with his wife and three daughters until his death in 1917. His family continued to live there for decades. But in 1949, Joe’s daughter, Ladel Allen, poisoned herself with mercury cyanide. Her mother sealed off Ladel’s room for the next 40 years.

Following the elder Mrs. Allen’s death, her two surviving daughters turned the house into apartments. Tenants began reporting strange sounds and events. Objects fell over by themselves, and shadow figures moved across rooms. Sometimes these figures appeared in photographs taken by residents.

Tours of the the Allen House are available.

More haunted places in Arkansas include the Peel Mansion in Bentonville and the Clayton House in Fort Smith.

Other Haunted Places in Arkansas

Cotter Bridge – Highway 62, between Baxter and Marion Counties

Numerous strange events have been reported at the Cotter Bridge, such as walkers being hit by random rocks, a ghostly woman being chased by hounds, ghost children playing on the tracks beneath the bridge, and sounds of babies crying.

King Opera House – Van Buren

An actor fell in love with the local doctor’s daughter around the turn of the 20th century. The doctor didn’t approve of the affair, so the young lovers decided to run away. The doctor discovered their plans and met  them at the depot. He beat the actor to death with a horse-whip.

Staff at the King Opera House, where the actor performed, say a ghost of a young man haunts the theater. The ghost has materialized in a top hat and cape and turns lights on and off.

Intrigued? You can rent King Opera House for your next event.

Want more? Here’s a list of haunted Courthouses in Arkansas.

Stay safe this Halloween.

Make sure your Life Insurance policy is up-to-date before you go ghost-hunting!  (We’re not scared, exactly…we just like to be responsible!)

Have questions about Life Insurance or any other insurance product? Talk to a Farm Bureau Insurance of Arkansas agent today.