Raley, Watts & O’Neill Insurance

Since 1950, Raley, Watts & O’Neill has been serving the insurance needs of our clients. We started as a one person operation in Lexington Park, MD and are proud of our small town heritage. We have worked hard to maintain the fundamental principles of our roots while we have grown into a company that serves clients throughout the Mid-Atlantic, the United States and Internationally. We pride ourselves on getting it right and taking care of the needs of our clients. We simplify the insurance process and take the time to make sure each of our clients understand their options, what they are buying and where their money goes. Our committed staff has the expertise and extensive experience in a broad range of insurance products and services like Commercial, Personal, Bonding, Safety/Risk Management, Group Health, Life and Financial Services. We would welcome the opportunity to demonstrate to you how working with Raley, Watts & O’Neill is about more than just insurance; it is about a long term relationship. We always strive to never veer from our values – C.A.R.E

What to do following any GRAY water damage

Author RWOInsurance , 4/15/2015
Gray WaterIt does not take very long for water to cause thousands of dollars in damage to your home. In just a short time, carpets can be ruined, flooring can buckle, drywall will swell, electronics will be damaged beyond repair, and furniture can be rendered unusable. Gray water is water from a washing machine, toilet, dishwasher, or other water-using appliance in your home. If your home is flooded and the source of water is not a clean water pipe, the water is considered 'gray water.' If you have a gray water leak in your home, you have to treat the clean up differently than if clean water does the same kind of damage. Gray Water=Partially Polluted Because gray water is considered partially polluted by microbes or chemicals, you need to use special care when cleaning it up or even entering the flooded area. If you have allergies or sensitivities, gray water can really make you sick, so you probably should allow someone else to help with the cleanup. Additionally, anyone who does clean up gray water damage should use latex gloves and shoe covers, and treat the flooded area as a biohazard. Carpeting must be completely ripped up and discarded. Anything that is salvaged must be bleached or sanitized in some way to keep you and your family members healthy. If you cannot properly sanitize items damaged by gray water, they must be thrown away. Call an Expert Major water leaks due to gray water should be addressed by professional clean-up companies. These people have the equipment needed to get rid of the water, discard the contaminated items, and clean up the home so that it will be safe for the family to live in again. Most of the time, your homeowner's insurance policy will help pay for a professional clean-up company to come to your home and clean up the gray water. Replace Almost Everything Gray water floods mean that almost everything in the flooded area will need to be replaced. Don't be surprised if your flooded area is ripped down to bare studs and the flooring is completely replaced. It may take some time for your home to get back to normal, but remember that it is for the safety of the entire family. If you have a gray water leak and need advice about what to do next, contact Raley, Watts and O'Neill Insurance today!

What to do following any CLEAN water damage

Author RWOInsurance , 4/8/2015
FloodIt is amazing how much damage a water leak, even a small one, can do to a home in just a short period of time. Water can ruin carpets, drywall, flooring, and cabinetry. If you have a clean water leak in your home, here is what you need to do to salvage what is left. 1. Turn off the water to the house. If you're not sure where the water is coming from, turn off the water to the whole house. If there's a major water leak with inches of water everywhere, turn off the electricity at the breaker to avoid short circuits and electrocution. 2. Call your insurance company. Many policies cover repair and rehabilitation of water-damaged homes. Contact your insurance agent to find out how your policy handles water damage. Your policy may even pay for a hotel room for your family until the damage is repaired. Do this as soon as you find the water leak, right after you've shut off the utilities. 3. Start drying things out. Use a wet-dry vacuum to start sucking water out of the carpets and off the floors. Try to get the water up as quickly as possible. It does not take long for flooring to buckle and for mold to begin growing in carpets and under wallpaper. Run as many fans as you can find to assist in drying out the house. 4. Move, mop, and blot Move as many of your personal items out of the flooded area as you can. This will help the air to circulate. If you can't find a good storage spot for these things, elevate them on bricks to allow air to circulate around them. Mop up water and blot up as much of it as you can with towels and shop rags. 5. Contact Carpet Specialists Some carpets may shrink after being wet, so don't remove the carpet tacks on your wall-to-wall carpets. You may be better off to call a carpet cleaner who can help you decide what to do with your damaged carpets. 6. Keep Records of Your Damaged Things Save all your receipts for everything you spend on this issue. Don't throw damaged items away until you have met with your insurance agent. This is to allow you to recover the full cost of your claims. Do you still have questions about insurance and water damage? If so, contact Raley, Watts and O'Neill Insurance today!

Easter Egg Hunt at “The Sterling House”

Author RWOInsurance , 4/1/2015

Five Safe Driving Tips for New Teen Drivers

Author RWOInsurance , 3/25/2015

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more teens dies from motor vehicle crashes than from any other cause. Protect your teens with five safe driving tips. 1. Turn off the Phone Talking or texting on a cellphone, even one that's hands-free, produces the same results as driving while drunk. Plus, many states have laws against drivers talking on cellphones. To be safe, teens should turn off their phones and stay focused on the road when they get behind the wheel. 2. Follow the Speed Limit Speed contributes to up to 40 percent of fatal teen accidents. Instead of driving fast to keep up with traffic or to show off, teen drivers stay safe when they follow the speed limit. This tip applies especially when teens drive on unfamiliar roads, in the midst of heavy traffic or during inclement weather, but it's also important every day. 3. Reduce Distractions Loud music, cold sodas and engaging conversation have their place at a party but not in the car. Teen drivers must focus on the task at hand and reduce distractions that may prevent them from seeing obstacles, obeying posted signs or maintaining control of the vehicle. 4. Practice Defensive Driving Defensive driving allows teens to maintain safe following distances, obey signs and plan an escape route. Most drivers develop this mindset over time, but smart teens practice these skills from the time they first earn their driving license. 5. Drive a Safe Car Employing safe driving techniques is an important factor when keeping teen drivers safe on the road, but the vehicle can play a role too. Vehicles with anti-lock brakes, air bags, backup assist and electronic stability control can protect teens. Keeping teen drivers safe is possible with these five tips. Likewise, be sure to purchase adequate auto insurance on each vehicle. Call your Raley Watts and O'Neill Insurance Agent today to update your policies and for additional safe teen driving tips. Sources: Five Safe Driving Tips for New Teen Drivers  

3 Last-Minute Income Tax Filing Tips That Will Save You Money and Stress

Author RWOInsurance , 3/18/2015
tax timeAll year long, you probably mentally jot down several things you want to discuss with your tax accountant.  But when it comes to tax time, you completely forget everything you had wanted to talk about and the stress starts to kick in that you need to file your taxes.  Fortunately though, there are several last-minute income tax filing tips that you can follow to help you save both time and money.

1) Make an appointment

The first and most important tip to follow is to actually make a date with your tax man.  If you wait and wait, you'll end up finding yourself paying a penalty for not filing on time.  There are extended deadline options, but the sooner you file them, the sooner the stress will be over.

2) Take advantage of free options

If you've been avoiding filing your taxes because you can't afford to go to a trustworthy tax accountant, there's no reason for you to fret.  Instead, you simply need to take advantage of free filing options, including the ones offered online as well as the ones offered in your community.

3) Set up an installment plan

When filing your taxes, if it is found that you will have to pay in, it's important that you do not let this stress you.  Instead, simply pay the IRS what you owe.  If you can't pay it in a lump sum, contact the IRS and ask to be set up on an installment plan.  The IRS is more than willing to create an installment plan that works best for you as this helps boost the odds that you'll actually pay.

Employment Practice Liability: Tips for Staying On the Right Side of the Fence

Author RWOInsurance , 3/11/2015
insurance2Did you know that in regards to litigation, instances related to employment practices has increased by 32 percent since 2005?  This means you are walking a fine line when it comes to wrongful termination, a hostile work environment, racial discrimination, failure to promote or employ, sexual harassment and much more.  Fortunately, though, there are a few tips you can follow to ensure you don' get tangled up in a litigation case. Review your policies The number one thing you can do to deter litigation relating to employment practice liability is by reviewing your HR policies on a regular basis.  Any time a change is made, you need to have a competent attorney read through the changes. All employees need direct access to your practices Any time a new employee is hired, he or she needs to be given a manual that outlines your practices.  In addition, when any changes are made to your current practices, each worker needs to be updated. Invest in insurance A Structured Employment Practices Liability Insurance policy can go a long way in protecting your business from ruin.  The policy should go into great depth, and it should include the following:
  • Third party coverage
  • Allow you to choose your own legal counsel
  • Cover wage and hour claims
  • Cover claims related to immigration
  • Cover punitive damages
Keep personal and business matters separate It can be hard to keep personal and business matters separate when working with the same people day in, day out, but you must strive to create a work environment that only allows for business activities to take place during work hours.  Personal matters should be discussed after hours, such as when you and a few of your coworkers decide to go out for a drink.

Valuable Cold Weather Management Tips for Business Owners

Author RWOInsurance , 3/4/2015

Snow TownLiving in Maryland, you know firsthand how extreme the winter weather can go from temperatures that dip well below zero to winter storms that pack on more than two feet of snow at a time. Mother Nature knows how to have a good time in Maryland.  As a business owner, this means you need to be fully prepared for when the cold weather sets in.  

First and foremost, you'll want to ensure the safety of your workers and customers.  This means providing them walkways to and from your store that are clear of ice and snow.  In addition, you'll want to stock up on water and food supplies, which proves to be of the utmost convenience in the event that your workers or customers become snowed in at your store.

Furthermore, you'll want to prepare for doors and windows that become frozen.  A de-icer should do the trick at keeping the door locks from freezing, but if you find yourself with a broken lock, you'll need to have the phone number of a door repair technician stored in your phone so that the doors can be fixed as quickly as possible. 

You'll also want to make sure the floors in your store are not slippery from any snow and water that gets dragged in on the bottom of your workers' and customers' shoes.  A mat program -- mats outside and inside your store -- should be used to protect everyone from slipping or falling.  These mats need to be cleaned daily to ensure they are working to their utmost potential. 

Lastly, don't forget to invest in business insurance.  One slip and fall accident could lead to financial ruin if you don't have the right coverage in place. 

Top Tips for Spring Cleaning

Author RWOInsurance , 2/25/2015
Dusting brushWhen it comes to spring cleaning, you're probably well aware of all the basic cleaning tasks that you need to carry out.  From cleaning out the gutters to power washing the siding, these simple tasks will give your home an instant makeover, but there are also many other cleaning activities that you need to perform to ensure your home is in the best shape possible. For starters, it's wise to start outside and make sure the yard is in great condition for new grass and blooming flowers.  Landscaping is a bit time-consuming, but nonetheless, it can be the difference between your home looking okay and your home looking amazing. Secondly, spring time is the perfect time of year to go through any sheds or garages, clearing them of all clutter.  You could even get out what you don't want and have a yard sale.  Or if you prefer, you can donate any of your unwanted items, which is a great way to give to those who are less fortunate than you.  Excellent items to give away include unused tools and damaged water hoses that can be used for other purposes. The next spring cleaning tip that you'll want to follow involves cleaning the inside of your home, starting with your ceilings and then working your way down the walls.  Don't forget to clean your ceiling fans really good; they will come in great use all year long when using them to help heat and cool your home, which can save on your utility bills enormously. Lastly, your floors will need thoroughly cleaned .  Hardwood floors need to be washed and scrubbed, and depending on the exact material, they may need to be sealed with a finisher.  Carpeted floors of course need to be steam cleaned.

Tips On Upgrading Your Home for Insurance Purposes

Author RWOInsurance , 2/18/2015
Ranch_style_homeHave you been thinking about making upgrades to your home?  If so, you should take note that there are several upgrades you can perform that will help lower your home insurance premiums.  For starters, installing a home security system can lower your rates by upward of 20 percent.  And don't be fooled into thinking that you have to install a $15,000 security system to enjoy the rate deduction benefits.  In fact, a simple system costing you no more than $1,000 for installation and equipment will usually suffice as an adequate system. Another excellent way to save an enormous amount of money on your rates is by having a new roof installed.  After all, roofing incidences caused by snow and ice tend to be one of the leading causes of insurance claims.  When living in an area that is prone to hurricanes and tornadoes, the savings tend to be far greater than 20 percent.  If you're going to invest in a new roof, make sure you're using materials that are waterproof and wind resistant. It's also important to make sure your garage door is in good shape.  If you notice that it's not as stable as it needs to be, you can add horizontal or vertical brackets to help strengthen it.  If you report this to your insurance agency to let them know you are making the garage area of your home more sturdy, this could result in your insurance rates being lowered by 10 percent.  Lastly, by replacing the old siding on your home with siding that is fire-resistant, you can enjoy slashing your premiums by up to 20 percent.  

5 Must-know Tips for Preventing House Fires

Author RWOInsurance , 2/11/2015
House FireWhen it comes to protecting your family, there are more than a few tips you can follow to ensure their safety.  One place to start carrying out your safety precautions is right at home.  Here's a quick look at safety tips for preventing house fires. Install and check smoke detectors First and foremost, each room in your home needs a smoke detector.  You need to make sure that they are installed correctly, and they also need to be tested on a monthly basis.  Regardless of how well they are working, they need to replace at least once every 10 years. Chimney flues need to be inspected If you have any chimneys in your home, they need to be inspected once every two weeks when using them.  This will help you identify any blockages, which tend to be a major fire hazard.  If any blockages are noticed, either you or someone who knows how to clean the chimney should do so immediately. Be careful with candles Candles are excellent for providing lighting, and they spruce up the decor in any room; however, you must be extremely careful with them.  Never place them near anything that is flammable, and any time that you exit a room where candles are lit, you should blow them out. Turn off all hot cooking equipment Whether it be a coffee pot or your stove, all hot cooking appliances need to be turned off immediately after you are finished using them.  Better yet, you can invest in appliances that automatically turn themselves off after a specified period of time. Store flammable materials in a safe place All flammable materials -- cleaners, gasoline, solvents, etc. -- don't need to be kept in your home.  Instead, they need to be stored in a shed that is at least 33 feet from your home in a shed.