Is Your Home Covered When Winter Hits?

According to the Farmer’s Almanac predictions for bitterly cold temperatures and heavy snowfalls in many parts of the U.S. are right in line so far, so be prepared.  Blizzards, ice storms, and other winter weather will abound, so make sure your home is covered.  Damage can occur to roofs and pipes, so check what may be covered below and use the great tips to prevent damage.


During frigid temperatures, water damage can occur if your pipes are not properly insulated or if there are cracks or leaks.  As long as you haven’t left your home unoccupied and cold, most home insurance covers repairs for:

  1.  The broken pipe
  2.  Water damage in your home
  3.  Water damage to furnishings

As a preventive measure, make sure to keep your home warm.  Set your thermostat for at least 65 degrees, because the temperature inside the walls where pipes are located is significantly colder and setting your thermostat at a lower temperature will not prevent your pipes from freezing.  If your pipes do freeze, know where your pipes are and learn how to shut the water off.  Time is of the essence so, quickly shut off the water and point your plumber to the problem.  You will have greater success in preventing the pipes from bursting if you do this.

During heavy snowfalls, snow and ice can accumulate in your gutters and on your roof.  Some of the following damage can occur and should be covered in a standard homeowner’s policy:

What’s covered when water leaks through your roof:

  1.  Water damage to your home
  2. Water damage to your furnishings

What’s covered on a roof cave-in due to the weight of the snow:

  1.  Damage caused by the weight of ice, snow or sleet

What’s covered if your gutters are clogged with ice:

  1.  Damage to ceilings and walls from water leaks.

Ways to help prevent a snow and ice problem with your roof:  Make sure to remove leaves, branches and other debris, so that when snow melts it can move freely.  This prevents ice from clogging the gutters and causing water to seep into the house and drip from the ceiling and walls.  Also, add extra insulation to your attic.  If too much heat escapes through the attic, it can cause snow or ice to melt on the roof.  This water can re-freeze and cause more ice to build up and result in a collapsed roof.  The attic should be five to ten degrees warmer than the outside air.

Check your homeowner’s policy and make sure what damage is covered due to winter storms.  If you have any questions, please call your agent at Barker, Beck, Collins and Kronauge Agency.  We would be glad to answer any questions you have.


All is Bright with Local Christmas Lights!

Snow is on the way this weekend, but after the roads are cleaned up, you might want to venture out to see one of our Go Weekend Picks! We’ve found 3 local winter wonderland destinations with all the trimmings!  So, bundle up, grab some hot chocolate and venture out to one or all of these following attractions:

Go Weekend Pick

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Woodland Lights

Woodland lights, located in Centerville, Ohio is entering its 21st season, with a half mile of lights along a wooded path to enjoy! The lights reflect beautifully as you walk along the woodland pond.  Along the trail, fanciful characters and illuminated animals prepare for the holidays, while a real-life Santa Claus visits with children inside an historic log cabin decorated as a candy land.  Quoting Linda Madden, Woodland Lights Coordinator, “Woodland Lights is a place that’s magical and enchanting.  Every year we do our best to stay true to that vision.  The front area feels more like a festival with lighting and animation.  The mood at the back of the park is quieter, more pristine, and emphasizes the park’s natural beauty.”  Bonfires, hot chocolate and other refreshments are offered nightly.  Some highlights this year include more lights, a new Ferris wheel for children, more special events, and more Festival Nights when a full range of activities are offered.  For more information on tickets, hours of operation and activities, click here.

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PNC Festival of Lights at The Cincinnati Zoo

Come experience nearly two million sparkling LED Christmas lights at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden this weekend!  The zoo has a variety of themed areas to walk through, from Twinkle Trail to Fairyland to Candy Cane Forest.  Enjoy these new areas along with your favorites, Mad Cap Black-Light Puppet Show, North Polar Express Train Ride, and much more.  Don’t forget to visit Santa either!  For more information on hours of operation and admission, click here.


Clifton Mill

Last, but not least, are the legendary lights of Clifton Mill, in Clifton, Ohio.  Clifton is about 30 miles east of Dayton and 40 miles southwest of Columbus in Greene County.  Clifton Mill has been celebrating the Christmas season in a very special way for over 20 years now.  There are over 3.5 million lights illuminating the mill, gorge, riverbanks, trees and bridges surrounding the property.  These lights have even been featured in Midwest Living and Ohio Magazine, and the display also boasts a 100 foot “waterfall” of sparkling lights.  In the evening you can even watch a magnificent synchronized lights and music show that highlights the old Covered Bridge.

Every night until the night before Christmas Eve you can see a live Santa at work in Santa’s Workshop and periodically, he will stop, check his list and go up the chimney to load his sleigh!  To find out more details for Clifton Mill Lights, click here.

Have a wonderful weekend, and stay warm from all of us here at Barker, Beck, Collins and Kronauge!


Featured Agent: Scott Barker and his Passion for Horses and Helping People

Our featured agent of the month, Scott Barker, has been a proven insurance advisor to his clients since 1978.  His father, Kenneth Barker, started his career in insurance in 1952 with the Catterton Agency.  Kenneth purchased the agency in 1972.  Scott began as an agent with his father after graduating college and this began his career at Barker and Barker Insurance.  A few years have gone by, and now the Agency has grown to Barker, Beck, Collins and Kronauge Agency.  Scott’s commitment to his customers continues and carries over into his personal life.

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One of Scott and his wife Carol’s passions is helping people and this goes hand in hand with their love for animals.  They are volunteers with the non-profit organization, Therapeutic Riding Institute or TRI for short.   Founded in 1973, TRI’s mission is to improve the lives and health of children and adults in the greater Dayton area of southwestern Ohio with special needs through Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies (EAAT).  TRI has a new home at Fine Line Stables in Springboro, Ohio and they are growing also.  They are working on a program for at risk youth, and a program for wounded veterans.  This new facility is allowing them the opportunity to help more people in the community with this wonderful equine therapy.  Scott decided to get involved with TRI when his career in the competitive world of Polo ended, and he wanted to continue to use his equine skills and help individuals at the same time.  His involvement with this unique organization is a testament to his compassion for people.

Scott and Carol also have some furry family member as well.  They have a great devotion for rescuing animals and giving them a loving home.  Their home is blessed with Luke, an Irish Setter they found at the Irish Setter Rescue, and Splash, and English Setter they found at Gun Dog Rescue.

Scott is also a Scottish Highland Cattle Breeder.  These cattle are distinctive in looks with their long horns and long wavy coats and produce a leaner beef than other cattle because of their thick shaggy hair.  They are quite unique looking and if you pass one standing in a field, it will probably make you look twice!

As an agent with the experience to handle all lines of personal and business insurance, Scott is prepared to take care of any insurance needs you have.  Just give us a call at Barker, Beck, Collins and Kronauge Agency.

Oh Dear! It’s a Deer! Stay Alert as Winter Approaches

Winter is quickly approaching, and as the temperature drops, deer are on the move and that means more collisions with vehicles.  According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), deer-vehicle collisions in the U.S. cause about 200 fatalities annually.  Furthermore, in a recent study of fatal animal crashes, IIHS reported that 60 percent of people killed were not wearing a seatbelt.  Drivers need to be especially watchful during this time when deer are mating and migrating from October through December.

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The following tips from The Cincinnati Insurance Companies website can help you avoid a collision with a deer and stay safe while on the road.

Be aware:

1.    Dawn, dusk and night are the times you are most likely to encounter deer in the roadway

2.    The annual deer breeding season, also known as the rut, occurs mainly from October through December, but also can extend into January for some southern states.

3.    Deer can be very active and unpredictable at these times while they are searching for mates.

4.    Country roads, farmland and heavily wooded areas are known for high deer populations, but it’s also not uncommon to encounter deer in suburban or urban areas.

5.    Deer are herd animals.  If you see one, more are likely to follow.

Tips that can help:

1.    Always wear your seatbelt.

2.    Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings.

3.    Drive at or below the speed limit when in areas with large deer populations.

4.    Be aware of Deer Crossing signs.  These signs are strategically placed in areas frequently used by deer to cross the road.

5.    Don’t swerve your vehicle to avoid hitting a deer.  This could cause you to lose control and hit another vehicle or object.

If you hit a deer:

1.    Contact the local emergency services if anyone is injured.

2.    Notify the local law enforcement agency of the accident.

3.    Report the accident to your insurance agent or insurance company as soon as possible.

4.    Never attempt to approach the deer.  Deer are unpredictable wild animals.  When injured, they could cause personal harm to you or run back into the roadway and cause another accident.

Even though the time for deer is here, you can utilize these great tips and avoid becoming a target of a deer collision.  We here at Barker, Beck, Collins and Kronauge wish you a healthy and safe winter.

Internet Accountability: Cyberbullying Claims Could Fall under Your Homeowner’s Policy

The Internet has been in our homes since the 90’s and bullies have been around even longer. Put these two ingredients together and that could make for an unwanted recipe with your homeowner’s insurance. In recent years there has been an increase in awareness regarding online harassment, also known as “cyberbullying”. It is a way to denigrate people while remaining private and avoiding accountability for actions. People’s homeowner’s insurance has come under fire for this activity and now carriers are assessing whether to cover these activities or not. Some policies are excluding it entirely while others are allowing for amendatory endorsements or covering the exposure through umbrella policies.


According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), “the percentage of students age 12-18 who reported being bullied at school has increased 24.5 percent since 2003, with the latest data samples from 2007.” Also an article in Best’s Review Monthly Insurance News Magazine states data collected by the Pew Internet and American Life Project puts 95 percent of teens using the internet. The article also indicates that the same study found 41 percent of teens who use social media say they have experienced at least one negative outcome from their online exchanges. If you have teens that enjoy social media connections, this could open up potential liability that may fall under homeowner’s insurance.

Insurance carriers are researching what they will cover and what they will not. With most cyberbullying coming from underage users, homeowner’s policies could allow provisions for this coverage. Some policies may be non-restricted and allow for some coverage of electronic aggression when the offender is a minor through either an amendatory endorsement or an umbrella policy. However, companies may require parental control and monitoring to reduce the risk of negligent supervision.

Coverage may also be available through a semi-restricted policy which further limits coverage through modifications to the definitions and exclusions in existing homeowners endorsements or personal umbrellas. Coverage would also be limited to minors only.

Restricted policies would be the least permissive and items under the cyberbullying definition may be removed to exclude coverage for various aspects of this electronic aggression. Restricted policies would also cover minors only.

As you can see, internet interactions can possibly become a liability with the increase in social media activity by young people. Should you have any questions about your specific homeowner’s policy, and whether your policy covers this potential liability, your advisors here at Barker, Beck, Collins and Kronauge Agency are only a phone call away. We look forward to hearing from you!


Adventure in the Valley of the Unknown at COSI This Weekend!

Our Go! Weekend Pick this week will have you traveling to COSI, the Center of Science and Industry, which is located in Ohio’s Capital city. There is a big adventure in store if you decide to make your way to Columbus this weekend. The Adventure in the Valley of the Unknown Exhibit will provide plenty of family fun!

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For those familiar with COSI, they opened their doors in 1964, and have been growing ever since. They started out in downtown Columbus at the old Memorial Hall and in 1999 moved to a new 320,000 square foot building at 333 West Broad Street in Columbus. As their website says, the center “inspires the scientists, dreamers, and innovators of tomorrow.” COSI is an interactive science center where children, teens and adults alike can learn while having loads of fun! They were also named America’s #1 science center for families by Parents Magazine.

The Adventure in the Valley of the Unknown Exhibit is an Indiana Jones type cavernous exhibit with lots of different terrain that definitely transports you to another world. It feels like you actually leave COSI and are transported to a remote island. This interactive exhibit provides a map and you embark on a scavenger hunt to find the treasure of knowledge. The science of logic and reason are primarily used on this activity. This is something the whole family to enjoy, because the logic challenges start out very simple and grow in their difficulty. This is perfect for parents to get involved in helping to solve challenges alongside their kids! This exhibit is open during COSI’s normal operating hours.

There is something for everyone at COSI and there is just too much list! Just go to their website for directions, operating hours, exhibits, live shows, demos, Extreme Screen Theater, and much more.

COSI’s mission has held true since its founding in 1964, and is posted on their website:

“COSI provides an exciting and informative atmosphere for those of all ages to discover more about our environment, or accomplishments, our heritage, and ourselves. We motivate a desire toward a better understanding of science, industry, health and history through involvement in exhibits, demonstrations, and a variety of educational activities and experiences. COSI is for the enrichment of the individual and for a more rewarding life on our planet, Earth.”

We here at Barker, Beck, Collins and Kronauge, hope this weekend is a fun filled adventure for you and your family where ever the road takes you!











Is Your Commercial Property Ready for Old Man Winter?

Fall is upon us, and winter is right around the corner. Some of us don’t like to think about that, and others of us are excited about the prospect of a wintery wonderland. If you are a business owner, now is the time to get your commercial property ready for the winter season ahead. The results will be money saved and pleased customers!


These great tips will help you decide what needs to be done to ensure the best winterization of your business for the changeover from fall to winter.

1. Make sure you have snow shovels and plenty of ice melt on hand in plenty of time before the first storm hits. Keeping walks and parking lots free from snow and ice hazards will help to prevent slips and falls.

2. Check property for trees with branches that could be an issue and make sure they are cut back from rooftops. Also, check rooftops for any loose or missing shingles, and make sure to repair or replace them before harsh weather sets in.

3. Clean out all gutters, and keep them free from debris. This will prevent drainage backup and possible damage to soffits and fascia.

4. Properly winterizing pipes is very important. Be sure to check recommended procedures for this and have it completed before frigid temperatures arrive. For more information on how to winterize and prevent frozen pipes go to the Cincinnati Insurance blog page.

5. Furnaces and all heating equipment should be serviced and prepared for regular usage before the start of the season.

6. One last tip, Cincinnati Insurance states that you should “Verify that your snow removal contractor has a certificate of insurance.”

Even though frosty weather isn’t here yet, it’s coming. So, prepare your business and it will be smooth sledding! For additional information on preparing your business to fight old man winter, go to the Small Business Administration’s blog page.

We here at the Barker, Beck, Collins and Kronauge Agency want you to have a warm and safe winter this year!

Carbon Monoxide, A Silent Killer – 5 Tips to Protect Your Family

When you think of someone getting carbon monoxide (abbreviated CO) poisoning, you don’t usually think of it coming from your home.  Our homes are a place of security and protection.  However, this odorless, colorless, invisible gas strikes residences every year.  According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 150 people die each year from this unseen killer.  It is given off when heating with a gas furnace, or even using a gas dryer for clothes.    It also comes from other consumer products such as generators, fireplaces, and even water heaters.   The symptoms can mimic the flu without fever.  You can provide some added protection for your family by following these 5 tips:

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  1. Purchase a reliable CO alarm.
    There are a number of things to look at when purchasing one.  They come with a selection of features such as visual indicators, silence and test buttons.  Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions for installation and placement and make sure you look into local codes for requirements of unit placement.

  2. Never leave an automobile running in an attached garage, even if the garage door is open.  The carbon monoxide gas can still travel indoors and be a hazard to people and pets.

  3. Make sure you have annual inspection of your furnace or heating system by a professional inspector.  If you have a chimney, make sure to have it and the flue checked for blockages, corrosion, or disconnections.  Also make sure your appliances are installed and used properly.

  4. Know the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning – such as dizziness, headache, lethargy, breathing difficulties, tightness of chest, and confusion.   CO poisoning often causes an individual’s blood pressure to rise, which can cause the skin to look pink or red.

  5. Portable generators or gasoline engine powered tools should never be operated in or near enclosed spaces, even if doors or windows are open.  CO levels can become trapped and quickly build up to lethal levels.

These helpful tips are just a small part of what you can do to protect your loved ones from CO poisoning.  For more questions and answers regarding carbon monoxide poisoning, check out the CPSC website.

As always, we here at Barker, Beck, Collins and Kronauge Agency have your family’s health and safety at heart.

Enjoy the Fall Festivities at These Fun Local Events

Our Go Weekend Picks are back!  So whether you enjoy getting out in the fall weather (possibly winter this weekend), or enjoy the warmth of indoors there is plenty to do in the Dayton and Cincinnati area over the next few days and weeks!  There is something for everyone in the family, from spooky to spectacular!  Check out this terrific list

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Family Friendly
Try out Spooktacular Aerospace fun at the National Museum of The Air Force this weekend.  This historic museum originated in 1923, and is the world’s oldest and largest military aviation museum. There is a wealth of education and exciting things to explore here.  This weekend in particular, kids can wear a costume, have a sit for a scary story, get their face painted or go on a scavenger hunt.  There is a ton of fun awaiting and much more to do at this entertaining family event!  

The Air Force Museum is located on Springfield Street at Wright Field (Gate 28B), Wright-Patterson Air-Force Base, 6 miles northeast of Dayton, Ohio.  

Their address is:
1100 Spaatz Street
Wright-Patterson AFB, OH  45433

For more information on this family friendly event, click here.

If a spookingly good time is what you want, then visit Waynesville, Ohio this weekend for more great family activities.  Take in a
Quaker Hill Ghost Tour  at the Museum at the Friends Home.  This intriguing museum offers a unique experience.  It is housed in The 1905 Friends Boarding Home at the top of Quaker Hill, was home to retired Quakers and single school teachers in its early days. Click here for Waynesville’s complete calendar of events for additional fall fun things to do.

Young’s Dairy in Yellow Springs, Ohio is known for its homemade ice cream, and my family and I took many a late night trips there for that delectable taste!  This farm was built in 1869 starting with one red barn and has grown ever since.  Not only can you get your favorite ice cream, but you can pet the animals, putt putt golf, and have dinner if you like.  There are also some fun filled scares going on there this fall.  Take in the haunted wagon ride, or spooky story telling.  For more information, such as times, and directions,
click here.

If you love animals, then the Cincinnati Zoo’s Hallzooween event is the perfect place to teleport your little ghouls and boys this weekend, as it’s the final weekend of this affair.  Be sure not to miss out!
Click here for more information on this hairy, but not scary event!

Wherever you are heading this weekend, all of us at Barker, Beck, Collins and Kronauge Agency hope you have a fun filled time with laughter and joy!

Is Your Home Fireproofed? October is National Fire Prevention Month

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The fall season is in full swing now with football games and trick or treat to get us prepared for the holidays to come. Many people will have their homes full of visitors, and the pleasant aroma of pumpkin pie and great company will be just the thing for our holiday cheer.  Nothing can put a damper on that more than an unexpected home fire. According to the NFPA, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 336,600 home structure fires per year during 2007-2011.  Since October is National Fire Prevention Month, be prepared early and get your home fireproof ready with these 10 great tips:  

  1. Be sure to check smoke detectors and replace the batteries.  If you don’t have smoke detectors, get them.
  2. Plan and implement a primary and alternate escape route out of your home. Print and post this for your family to be familiar with.  Hold periodic fire drills and have rope ladders for escape on upper floors. Establish a safe meeting place in front of your home away from fire where everyone can gather.
  3. Have a professional inspect and clean all chimneys.
  4. Check all electrical cords for knots or frays.
  5. Do not overload electrical outlets.  They can draw a heavy amount of electricity and electrical short circuits are a major cause of fire in the home.
  6. Keep a fire extinguisher readily available.  Especially in close proximity to the kitchen.
  7. Be sure to clean your dryer lint trap after each use.
  8. Make sure you change your furnace filter regularly, and do not store any flammable material near your furnace.
  9. Do not leave lit candles unattended, and make sure you extinguish any fire in your fireplace before leaving home.
  10. Clean up any clutter around the home.  Clean out your closets and toss any old clothing, newspapers and boxes that may be accumulating.

Now that you have these fireproof tips for your home, cheer on your favorite football team, go trick or treating, and pre-game for Thanksgiving by enjoying as much pumpkin pie as you can!!   

As always, we here at the Barker, Beck, Collins, and Kronauge Agency wish you a great start to the holiday season.

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