If your home was destroyed by fire or other disaster, would you be able to remember and account for all the items of value? Probably not. It’s hard enough to recall everything you own in normal situations, but when tragedy strikes, it’s even more challenging.

Having an up-to-date home inventory will make filing an insurance claim much easier. It can also help you purchase the correct amount of insurance before disaster strikes. Once you know the value of your belongings, you can choose the appropriate insurance limits to help protect your personal property if it’s damaged or stolen.

No longer a tedious chore

The thought of creating a complete inventory of your possessions might feel like an overwhelming task, but there’s good news. Technology is now available to turn this tedious chore into an easy, enjoyable activity.

There are numerous home inventory apps to help you organize, document and keep track of your belongings (and those in storage or at other locations). You can even quickly use your smartphone or tablet to calculate how much these items are worth.

This is especially important if you need to make a homeowners or renters insurance claim after a loss. A comprehensive, up-to-date inventory of your belongings on your phone, with prices for items, receipts, serial numbers, barcodes and photos can make the claims process simple and fast.

The best home inventory apps will make it easy and intuitive to categorize your possessions and sort items by room. You can scan barcodes and QR codes for easy retrieval of product details. These apps also allow you to upload multiple photos and videos for a visual record.

A backup of your inventory is automatically done through cloud storage for data recovery in case you lose or damage any of your devices.

Variety of apps

A variety of useful home inventory apps and software are currently available and include the following options.

Blue Plum Home Inventory
Price: Free or $34.99
Available on: iOS and desktop

Encircle Home Inventory
Price: Free
Available on: iOS and Android

Magic Home Inventory
Price: Free
Available on: Android

MyStuff2 Pro
Price: Free, but has in-app purchases
Available on: iOS

Nest Egg Inventory
Price: $5.49
Available on: iOS

Price: Free, paid premium version available
Available on: iOS and Android

Once you’ve logged your belongings, go back and review your insurance coverage to make sure it’s a fit. Your insurance broker can help you determine if your policy is sufficient for your particular needs. Aim to review your inventory and insurance coverage at least once a year to make sure you’re still adequately protected.

If an app still feels overwhelming, you can outsource the task entirely by hiring a professional home inventory company to handle the process for you.

Keep your inventory current

Once you’ve chosen the home inventory app or service that’s right for you and established a comprehensive database for your valuables, it’s important to keep it up to date.

As you purchase new items, be sure to add them to the app, along with photos and receipts and any other pertinent information. When you downsize, make sure to delete no-longer-owned items from the app.

You never know what the future holds, but you can be prepared and protect your most precious belongings with a comprehensive home inventory. Contact your insurance broker if you have questions or to discuss additional ways to safeguard your home from unexpected damage or loss.

Our world has become immersed in sharing our lives through social media. Sharing on social media creates a feeling or bond between friends, but sometimes sharing some of the things we do, can become dangerous. In today’s society, we are aware that sharing our social insurance number is a faux pas, but what makes a driver s license any different? When you take a picture of your driver’s license and post it online, people can access more than one would think.

  • Your full name
  • Your address
  • Your date of birth
  • Approximate height and weight
  • A picture of you

Your driver’s license number is a unique number required for personal and confidential purposes.

Cybercrime is rampant these days, and criminals search for people who make these simple mistakes. But these mistakes could cost you your identity.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t have fun with social media; after all, becoming a new driver is a huge accomplishment. You should have fun with social media but also beware of the consequences if you were to post your licence online.

Here are some fun and unique ways to share that you are a new driver!

  • Use the following hashtags on your post (don’t take a picture with any confidential information) #16yearolddriver, #teendriverontheloose, #teendriver #sharingtheroad #drivesafe, #passeddriverstest
  • Take a picture next to your new car (or your family car)
  • Get a “new driver’s kit” with all the essentials such as booster cables, first aid kit, flashlight, to-go mug, air freshener etc., and take a picture with it.
  • Take a video of your victory dance now that you have passed your driver’s exam. #victorydance.

These are all fun ways to share your fantastic accomplishment safely.

Are you one of the millions of people who have experienced road rage while driving? Or, have you been the victim of someone else’s road rage? The chances are high that you’ve had to deal with both. Nearly one third of Canadians experience road rage at least once a month, according to a 2015 survey by a nationwide insurer.

Road rage and aggressive driving are both very dangerous and very different. Aggressive driving can be defined as anything that constitutes recklessness, such as tailgating, speeding, or blocking another car from passing. But road rage is more serious because it involves a violent intent towards another driver.

The don’ts of road rage

Maybe you’re having a bad day and suddenly, a car cuts you off, causing you to barely avoid an accident. Or perhaps you’re running behind schedule and it seems like you get stopped at every red light – while also getting stuck behind the slowest car on the road.

Most drivers have been there and start complaining to themselves or even screaming at the car in front of them to just “GO!” However, staying calm in moments like these helps your mental health and will keep you and other drivers safe. It will also protect you from drivers who may react violently against your tailgating or gesturing.

Don’t let your anger lead to someone else’s rage

When anger sets in, remember it isn’t helpful to direct that anger towards other drivers. Anger can quickly turn to rage, causing the danger level to increase. One of the biggest concerns of road rage is you can’t know how the driver in front of you or behind you will react to your in-car aggression. Many drivers have found themselves suffering violence at the hands of other drivers who have no control over their road rage. It may seem unlikely that cutting someone off or waving your hands could lead to violence, but you never know who you’re driving next to or what they’re capable of. As a matter of fact, of the deaths related to road rage, most have been considered deliberate murders.

Don’t engage in the wrong kind of tailgating

Tailgating can be a fun way to celebrate responsibly with friends before a ball game or concert. But when it comes to driving, tailgating is a whole different story. Tailgating happens when one car is driving very close to the back of another. Many drivers use this tactic of road rage when they want the car in front of them to speed up or move to a different lane so they can pass. Often, the result of tailgating is an accident – and at high speeds, this can be deadly. This happens when the vehicle in front brakes quickly and the driver behind doesn’t have enough time to stop.

Remind yourself that although being stuck behind a slow driver might be annoying and inconvenient, it’s not as bad as harming yourself or others in a crash.

Keep calm and drive on

When you drive and add aggression and impatience to the mix, the result can be deadly. Avoid reacting negatively to others’ bad or slow driving. And if you’re the target of another driver’s road rage, let them pass you. Doing so helps you avoid what could become a dangerous confrontation.

Staying calm on the road is key to staying alive and reaching your destination safely.

Did you know that if you’re driving and engaging in a conversation on your mobile device, you are over 4 times more likely to be involved in an accident? Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of driving-related accidents resulting in bodily injury in Alberta.

Let’s take a look at what constitutes distracted driving, what the consequences are, and what you can do to curb any bad habits you’ve developed.

What is distracted driving?

Distracted driving refers to the use of hand-held devices and certain display screens while driving, stopped in traffic, or stopped at a red light. Basically, if you’re driving and engage in an activity involving a mobile device, then you are guilty of distracted driving under Alberta law.

When you are in the driver’s seat, it is illegal to engage in the following:

  • Texting or dialing your phone or hand-held wireless device
  • Using your tablet or portable gaming system
  • Engaging with a display screen unrelated to driving (e.g. watching a video)
  • Programming a GPS (if not via voice command)
  • Writing, printing, or sketching
  • Reading printed materials
  • Grooming

In Alberta, it is illegal to even hold your phone while driving. The only times that you are permitted to use your phone while in your car are when you have to call 911 or when you’re safely parked off the road.

It is not illegal to use a hands-free communication device such as a Bluetooth device or earpiece, nor is it illegal to use a GPS unit if it is built in or securely mounted to your vehicle’s dashboard.

However, be aware: despite the fact that it is legal to use a hands-free device while driving, the risk of being involved in an accident is still greatly increased. Talking on any device can diminish your reaction time, making you a risk to both yourself and others.

CAUTION: Eating, drinking, smoking, and reaching for things while driving are not classified as distracted driving in Alberta. Despite this, these activities increase your risk of getting into an accident, and doing any of them can result in careless or dangerous driving charges.

The penalties for distracted driving

Because using a cell phone or other electronic device while driving is so dangerous, you can face serious penalties if you are caught.

If convicted of distracted driving, you may face a penalty of a $287 fine and three demerit points. If you are charged with careless driving or a moving violation, you could face additional penalties.

If you are found to be endangering individuals as a result of distracted driving, you can face additional charges. Careless and dangerous driving charges can result in loss of demerit points, steep fines, licence suspensions, and jail time.

Additionally, if you are convicted of distracted driving, your auto insurance can be affected. You could face higher insurance rates, classification as a high-risk driver, or even cancellation of your policy altogether.

Remember, even if your driving doesn’t seem to be affected, you can still be charged with distracted driving.

How to prevent distracted driving

We’ve become accustomed to responding to our phones as soon as they chime, beep, and vibrate, and it can be easy to find ourselves answering calls or pressing away at buttons while driving. Here are some tips on what you can do to avoid becoming distracted while driving:

Turn your mobile device off: This is both the easiest and the hardest solution. Powering down your device ensures that you’ll be distraction free, but doing this requires some discipline. Try turning your phone off when you enter your car, then turning it back on when you get out.

Hide your device: Even if you have your phone off and it’s beside you, you might be tempted to power it up while driving to see if you’ve missed a call or message. If you can’t see your phone, chances are you’ll be less tempted to respond to it. Try putting your device in the trunk of the car before getting in. You probably won’t even miss it.

Set your phone to Do Not Disturb: Most phones now have a Do Not Disturb feature. This feature will prevent calls and texts from coming in unless the caller is on a pre-designated list or the same number calls multiple times in a row. Setting your device to Do Not Disturb while having your Bluetooth activated will ensure the only calls that will reach you are important ones.

Give your phone to a passenger: If you’re expecting an important call or text, give your phone to someone else who can respond to any message. They can take care of the call while you take care of the driving.

Distracted driving is a serious risk both to yourself and to others. It’s not worth taking the chance. If you have questions about how changing your driving habits can affect your insurance rate, speak to your insurance broker.

Did You Know?

Extreme summer temperatures are not only uncomfortable, they are also dangerous for your health. This is particularly true for older adults and children who are more susceptible to illness. Read on to learn more about heat-related illnesses and tips for preventing them.

Heat Exhaustion occurs when the body is not able to sweat enough to cool itself. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • Dizziness, weakness, nausea, headache and vomiting
  • Blurry vision
  • Body temperature 38.3° C
  • Sweaty skin
  • Feeling hot and thirsty
  • Having difficulty speaking

When someone is suffering from heat exhaustion, he/she should move into a cooler place and drink plenty of water immediately.

Heat Stroke is the result of untreated heat exhaustion and includes the following symptoms:

  • Sweating
  • Unawareness of heat and thirst
  • Body temperature rises rapidly above 38.3° C
  • Confusion or delirium
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizure

When someone is suffering from heat stroke, medical personnel should be called immediately, as the condition is life-threatening. Place ice packs on the person’s armpits and groin until help arrives.

Healthy Hints

To avoid heat illnesses in summer temperatures, remember to drink lots of water – even if you are not thirsty. Additionally, wear light-coloured, lightweight clothing made of natural fibres and put on a well-ventilated hat. Lastly, avoid leaving air-conditioned areas in the middle of the day if you can. Instead, get things done outside in the early morning or evening when temperatures are cooler.