Archive for the 'Insurance Claims' Category

FIRE is America’s Biggest Disaster

The biggest disaster threat in the United States isn’t floods, hurricanes or tornadoes; it’s fire.


In our community I have personally been at the scene for dozens of house fires. As an insurance agent, I am often the second person that the homeowner calls, after “911.” It’s incredibly sad to stand on the front lawn and witness first-hand the destruction of property. You feel defenseless. Fire moves fast, and often takes hours to extinguish.

This article is filled with statistics on purpose. I really want to show the devastating numbers. They are real.

According to the National Fire Protection Agency:

Home fires

  • Half of home fire deaths result from fires reported between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. when most people are asleep. Only one in five home fires were reported during these hours.
  • One quarter of home fire deaths were caused by fires that started in the bedroom. Another quarter resulted from fires in the living room, family room or den.
  • 60% of home fire deaths happen from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.
  • Cooking equipment is the leading cause of home fire injuries, followed by heating equipment.
  • Smoking materials are the leading cause of home fire deaths.
  • Roughly one of every 320 households had a reported home fire per year.
  • A fire is reported in the United States every 85 seconds.


  • 40% of home fires started in the kitchen.
  • Unattended cooking was a factor in one-third of reported home cooking fires.
  • Failure to clean was a factor contributing to ignition in 17% of reported home fires involving ovens or rotisseries.


  • The leading factor contributing to heating equipment fires was failure to clean. This usually involved creosote build-up in chimneys.
  • Portable or fixed space heaters, including wood stoves, were involved in one-third (33%) of home heating fires and four out of five (81%) home heating deaths.
  • In most years, heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires, fire deaths, and fire injuries.

Smoking Materials

  • Most deaths in home smoking-material fires were caused by fires that started in bedrooms (40%) or living rooms, family rooms or dens (35%).
  • Possible alcohol impairment was a factor in one in five (19%) of home smoking fire deaths.


  • About half (48%) of home electrical fires involved electrical distribution or lighting equipment. Other leading types of equipment were washer or dryer, fan, portable or stationary space heater, air conditioning equipment water heater and range.


  • More than one-third of these fires (36%) started in the bedroom;
  • Falling asleep was a factor in 11% of the home candle fires and 37% of the associated deaths.

Smoke Alarms

  • 60% of home fire deaths are caused by fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.
  • Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in reported home fires in half.
  • In fires considered large enough to activate the smoke alarm, hardwired alarms operated 93% of the time, while battery powered alarms operated only 79% of the time.
  • When smoke alarms fail to operate, it is usually because batteries are missing, disconnected, or dead.

Wallin Insurance teams up with the American Red Cross.

As an insurance agency we wanted to do something to help this community. We chose this project “Home Fire Preparedness Campaign” where we evaluate and install smoke alarms in area homes. We also educate homeowners on having an escape plan in the event of a fire.

If we can make a difference to just one homeowner, we will feel good about our service to the community.

To date the agents and staff at Wallin Insurance have installed more than 50 smoke alarms in 15 homes in Chemung County. We are the only trained and certified volunteers performing this service.

For more information or if you’d like your home to be evaluated contact me, Peter Wallin at 607–734–8799 or We normally perform installations on Thursdays.


Deer Accidents Rise in the Autumn Months

Watch out for Deer!

by Peter Wallin, Elmira, NY Insurance Agent
www.WallinInsurance.comDeer Accidents

Each year there are over 1.5 million car accidents that are caused by deer.  These incidents occur especially in the autumn months.

As your local insurance agent, this is the most frequent type of claim we see this time of year  (although we see deer accidents all year long!).  Most accidents are relatively minor  (for the car, that is), ranging in the $2,000-3000 range to repair.  But we have seen car damages as much as $10,000, or the car actually be considered a “total” damage.

We urge you to drive with caution.  Deer tend to run in the early morning hours just before sunrise, or at dusk.  These are times when your sight as a driver might not be ideal.  Be a defensive driver, proceed with caution with frequent scans of the roadside.  Deer seem to come from nowhere and at times when you least expect it.  The often travel in groups of 2 or 3.  So if you see one deer, chances are there’s another one right behind it.

For questions about your own car insurance contact us at  We can help you fully understand how to cover yourself and your car in case you accidently are struck by a deer  (this is called “Comprehensive Coverage.”)

Drive safely out there!

Peter Wallin

Fire Claims – Be prepared when disaster strikes

2011 was a rough year
for some of our valued
homeowner clients:
by Peter Wallin, Insurance Agent


Here’s a few actual fire claims that occurred right here in our community:

**Lighting struck a tree and spread to a storage shed in Big Flats – resulting in major loss of household contents and business inventory.  Thankfully the homeowner had the right insurance coverages for their home and business.

**Fire at a beautiful log home in Lowman.  The entire house burned to the ground, along with all the contents.  I was on the scene with the homeowner as we worked closely with Erie Insurance to provide immediate financial assistance.

**A gas spill in an auto repair shop in Alpine.  The owner tried to extinguish the blaze but it was out of control.  He will be out of business for several months as his facility is rebuilt. It’s a good thing he has “Loss of Income” coverage.

These are not only devastating financial losses, but they are also very emotional.  I have learned in the 25 years I have been in this business the importance of providing proper insurance coverage (at a reasonable price!) but also that it is my job to be there when the client needs me the most. 

In a letter to the Editor in the Elmira Star-Gazette the following was written:
   Family says thanks for help after fire
“Many thanks to the firefighters, our insurance agent, Peter Wallin, family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and even strangers who helped us through the devastating fire that destroyed our home on October 14.  You have all been so very kind and we are so very grateful.”
              Bob ad Debra Watts, Lowman

As we enter 2012 I urge you to take a look at your own home insurance policy. Make sure you are comfortable with the coverage limits.  Be sure you are prepared for whatever disaster (big or small) may come your way.  And please contact my office if you have any questions or would like to discuss your situation in detail.  It’s our job to help you!

Peter Wallin
Elmira, New York

Candle Safety in the Home

Insurance agent Peter Wallin discusses
safety in the home

Tricks of the Wicks

House-warming candles, left unmanaged, can lead to dangerous fires


Candles are a great way to make a house feel like home, but if left unattended, they can have devastating effects.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, candles cause an estimated 15,600 fires in homes each year. Over half of those fires start because the candle is too close to combustible material and one in 10 are related to the homeowner falling asleep while the candle is lit.

Thankfully, most candle-related fires can be prevented. Here’s what to know (courtesy of the U.S. Fire Administration):

  • Avoid using lighted candles.
  • If you do use candles, ensure they are in sturdy metal, glass, or ceramic holders and placed where they cannot be easily knocked down.
  • Keep candles out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Set a good example by using matches, lighters and fire carefully.
  • Children should never be allowed to play with matches, lighters or candles.
  • Never put candles on a Christmas tree.
  • Never leave the house with candles burning.
  • Extinguish candles after use.
  • Establish a fire-safe home, especially a safe sleeping environment.
  • Never leave burning candles unattended

For more safety tips on using candles, see the National Candle Association Web site, or visit

in Elmira, New York

Fireplace Safety Tips

By Peter Wallin, Insurance Agent
Elmira, NY

Nothing adds warmth to the cold winter evenings than a nice fire in the fireplace – or woodstove or pellet stove.  Before you light up another fire, though, check this safety list:

  • Keep a chimney cap to keep out debris and small animals
  • Always use a metal screen or glass fireplace door.
  • Have your chimney inspected annually and cleaned as necessary by a qualified specialist. As it burns, wood can leave a deposit called creosote along chimney walls, and it can catch fire if not removed regularly.
  • Burn well-seasoned hardwood that has been split for a minimum of 6 months.  Never burn Christmas trees or treated wood.
  • Never burn cardboard, newspapers, or trash in your unit.
  • Keep furniture, decorations, and other potentially flammable material at least two feet from the fireplace.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher handy.

For more information contact Peter Wallin at

“Tornado’s can be destructive in NY” says Elmira Insurance Agent

 Don’t Let a Tornado Topple You  
      By Peter Wallin, Elmira Insurance Agent


Tornadoes are one of nature’s most powerful and destructive forces; an F5, the strongest and most violent of tornadoes, can level almost any house and its occupants. Thankfully,  F5 tornadoes are rare. Most are weaker and can be survived.   We recently had a tornado spotted in Chemung County.

Now is the time to prepare for them if you haven’t already.

Tornadoes are most common from  late winter through mid-summer.

Here’s what to do before and during a tornado:

  • Know where you can take shelter in
    the event of the storm. Practice a family tornado drill once a year.
  • Prepare by gathering emergency supplies, including nonperishable food, water, medication, batteries and flashlights. Keep the emergency kit packed and easily accessible.
  • Knowthesigns of a tornado: persistent winds, swirling dust or debris under a cloud base, loud continuous roar or rumble.
  • Know the difference and help your children understand the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning.
  1. Tornado Watch: Current weather conditions could create a tornado, so be on the lookout.
  2. Tornado Warning: A tornado has been sighted in the area. Seek shelter immediately and listen to the radio for further updates. A tornado warning is much more serious than a tornado watch.
  • If a tornado is likely or known, take shelter indoors, preferably in a basement or interior first-floor room or hallway.
  • Avoid windows and seek additional protection under large furniture or mattresses. This will protect you from flying debris.
  • After a tornado has struck, stay out of heavily damaged homes or buildings. Keep clear of downed power lines, broken glass and other debris. Avoid lighting matches and cigarettes due to possibly ruptured gas lines. Try to stay calm. Help will arrive.

And remember, be prepared financially, too, before a storm ever hits. Don’t let nature blow away what you’ve worked hard to build. If you’ve made improvements to your home or purchased large ticket items, let us know. We can ensure they are properly insured. We can also help you review your homeowners policy anytime so you’re aware of the coverage limits and can adjust them as needed. Give us a call.

February 2019
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