Crothers Littles Insurance Agencyoffice (410) 287-5501
fax (410) 287-6866
710 S. Main Street, North East, MD 21901

Frequently Asked Questions & Tips

Settling Insurance Claims After a Disaster

    The Insurance Information Institute provides an excellent resource for how to file a claim, how the claim process works, and what's covered and what's not. Click here to review their website or click here to download a PDF version of their brochure.

Home Safety

  • Make sure furnaces, fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, space heaters, and gas appliances are vented properly and inspected annually.
  • Don't hide a spare key under the doormat or a flowerpot - burglars know the good hiding places.
  • Have your home tested for radon.
  • Keep an updated list of emergency telephone numbers next to every phone in your home.
  • Have a plan in case of natural disasters; and make sure your family knows the plan.
  • Keep cleaning solutions, pesticides, and other potentially dangerous substances in their original, labeled containers, and out of reach of children.
  • Invest in solid doors and good quality locks for your doors and windows.
  • Always double check door and windows to make sure they are locked.
  • Plant thorny bushes under all windows, and trim back trees or shrubs near doors and windows to eliminate hiding places for would-be burglars.
  • Invest in an affordable alarm system.
  • Do not put valuables in places where they can be seen through windows.
  • Unplug appliances such as small bathroom and kitchen appliances when not in use.
  • Blow out candles before leaving a room, leaving the house, or going to sleep.
  • Have working smoke detectors on all levels of your home. Change batteries at least once a year, and replace smoke detectors that are more than ten years old.
  • Put child proof covers on unused electrical outlets.
  • Keep backyard or front yard areas safe from causing injuries. Fix broken steps, put ladders away, keep any chemicals locked away, fence in any body of water and keep gates locked.
  • Use correct light bulbs in all lamps and light fixtures.
  • Make sure electrical cords are in good condition.
  • Invest in a carbon monoxide detector.
  • Make sure your house numbers are visible both day and night.

Sources: HUD, ADT Home Security, Home Safety Services, Home Safety Council

Home Safety Council: Click on the Safety Guide tab to find home safety tip on topics such as airway obstruction, fire, flood, home improvements, playgrounds, security, storms, windows, and winter preparation among others.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development: Make sure your home is health for children. HUD breaks down safety tips by room and for all living areas in your home.

ADT Home Security: See how at risk you are for having your home burglarized by taking ADT's safety quiz. And check out safety tips to keep yourself from becoming a victim.

Home Safety Services: Register for home safety seminars, ask the Safety Guy questions, or brush up on your home baby proofing skills. The Home Safety Services website also provides a home safety checklist under the site's "Resources" tab.

Home Inspector Locator: Preventative maintenance can avoid repairs, extend the life expectancy of many components and in some cases, reduce energy consumption. This site provides a guide for you to accomplish a good home maintenance plan.

True Value's Project Library: Being a homeowner doesn't make you an expert in home maintenance and repairs. This site will provide you with helpful tips when trying to tackle some of these projects yourself.

Winter Tips for Homeowners

    A home is a major investment and every precaution should be taken to protect it. Cold weather brings its own set of hazards. You can take measures to guard against winter losses. According to the Insurance Information Institute, losses from winter storms exceed $1 billion per year nationwide. In 2007, winter damage and freezing losses represented over 22% of all homeowners insurance claims, with the average claim being over $5,000.

  • If you are going to be away from your home for more than a few days, shut off your main water connection to avoid the risk of pipes freezing and breaking which may cause severe water damage and mold issues.
  • If you are going to be away from your home for more than a few days, maintain your heat at least at 65 degrees.
  • Replace screens with storm windows.
  • Cleaning out gutters of leaves and debris, helps prevent water from backing up and freezing in the gutters and downspouts. This unnecessary weight on the gutters can cause them to bend or dislodge.
  • Properly insulating your attic can help combat against ice damming. Ice damming occurs when snow melts and refreezes in the roof overhang. This produces a "dam" which can back up under the shingles and leak into the house.
  • Trim branches that are to close to power wires. This will reduce the likelihood of a power outage.
  • Insulate exterior plumbing and faucets, or turn them off and drain them to prevent freezing and potential water damage claims.
  • Pipes in unheated garages, attics and crawl spaces should be insulated.
  • Inspect chimneys annually to prevent fires due to blockages.
  • Store fireplace and woodstove ash in a covered, fireproof container until completely cooled.
  • Keep fireplace screens in place to reduce the chance of sparks igniting rugs, wood floors or furniture.
  • Never leave lit candles unattended.
  • Avoid space heaters whenever possible. If one is necessary, then it is advisable to use an electric space heater with an automatic tip over shutoff. Never use space heaters near flammable items.
  • In the kitchen, stovetops, hoods, fans and filters should be cleaned regularly of cooking grease to help prevent a fire.
  • Keep a bag of ice melt handy to clear sidewalks and driveways of ice and reduce the risk of injuries to guests and loved ones.

Farm Safety

  • Read and follow instructors in equipment operation manuals.
  • Routinely inspect all farm equipment.
  • Discuss safety hazards and emergency procedures with workers.
  • Install rollover protective structures, protective enclosures, or protective framses on farm tractors.
  • Take advantage of safety equipment, such as bypass starter covers, power take-off master shields, and slow-moving vehicle emblems.
  • Be aware that methane gas, carbon dioxide, ammonia, and hydrogen sulfide can form in unventilated grain silos and manure pits, and can suffocate or poison workers.
  • Review and follow instructions that come with chemical products.
  • Do not allow children to roam freely around the farm.
  • Inspect farm regularly for hazards that could be especially dangerous for children.
  • Children who physically able and old enough to help on the farm should be assigned to age-appropriate tasks and thoroughly and continually trained. And supervised.
  • Be sure to understand some common instincts of animals; they can be unpredictable.
  • Keep children, bystanders, and visitors out of livestock handling areas.
  • Wear appropriate clothing for working in the heat or in the cold.
  • Wear proper protective gear - eye protection, hearing protection, hand protection, and respiratory protection are all things that need to be thought about. Base your selection of protective devices on the hazards presented by the job, and by precautions printed on product labels.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings.

Sources: OSHA, National Safety Council, National Ag Safety Database


National Safety Council: On this site you can find safety tips for numerous farm-related tasks and equipment, some of which include falls, farm shop safety, chemical safety, livestock safety, and equipment and tool safety.

Oklahoma State University Environmental Health & Safety Online Safety Library: Provides links to databases and individual articles that discuss farm safety issues.

Farm Safety 4 Just Kids: Thousands of kids are injured and killed on farm each year. This website gives tips on how to keep kids safe, as well as fun activities for kids.

Boating Safety

  • Wear life jackets at all times when near the water.
  • Use safe anchorages.
  • Don't operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Watch out for commercial ships, tugboats, and towboats.
  • Designate someone to look out for other boats, commercial and recreational.
  • Don't jet ski or water ski around commercial boats and ships or tugboats and towboats.
  • Understand whistle signals.
  • Have a qualified technician do a thorough checkup of your boat once a year.
  • Check all exhaust features on your boat once a month to prevent carbon monoxide hazards.
  • Every time you go out on your boat, be sure to know where exhaust pipes are, and educate passengers on the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning as well as its symptoms - which are often similar to the symptoms of seasickness or alcohol intoxication.
  • Be familiar with the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) Information can be found at
  • Check weather forecasts before getting on the water.
  • Don't boat alone.
  • Always tell someone when and where you are going.
  • Bring emergency supplies such as maps, flares, and a first aid kit.
  • If you loan someone your boat, show them how to operate it.

Sources: BoatUS Foundation, American Waterways Operators Foundation, United States Coast Guard Boating Safety website, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources


U.S. Coast Guard Boating Safety: This website offers links to safety tips as well as publications and brochures to print. This site even allows you to take courses in boating safety.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources: The DNR offers boating safety courses as well as tips on safety, theft prevention, and life jackets information for adults and children.

National Safe Boating Council: Training opportunities, Safe Boating courses, Life jacket testimonials, and more can be found on this website. You can even sign up to become a member of the council.

Safe Marina: Owning a boat bears a lot of responsibility. Amongst other things, this site provides helpful information on how to maintain your boat and keep it secure.

Hurricane Preparation Tips for Boaters

  • Non-trailerable boats in wet storage have the following options:
    • Secure boat in slip
    • Moor boat in a previously identified safe area
    • Haul boat
  • Boats remaining in slip take the following precautions:
    • Double all lines
    • Rig crossing spring lines
    • Attach lines high on pilings
    • Inspect piling and choose those that appear the strongest and tallest
  • Cover all lines where lines feed through chocks to prevent chafing. Wrap with tape, rags, rubber hose or leather.
  • Install additional fenders to prevent boat from rubbing against pier, piling or other boats.
  • Fully charge batteries and ensure capability to run automatic bilge pumps.
  • Turn off items consuming electricity except bilge pumps and disconnect shore power cables.
  • Remove all portable equipment, secure dinghies.
  • Have a copy of your insurance policy, boat registration, photo of your boat and boat’s inventory in a secure location.
  • Do not stay aboard.
  • Plan ahead - make a list of your actions for any future severe weather.

Automobile Safety

  • Always buckle your safety belts.
  • Infants and children should always ride in safety seats in the back seat.
    • Infants who are younger than 1 year and weigh less than 20 pounds should be placed in rear facing safety seats.
    • Children between ages 4 and 8 or weigh less than 40 pounds should sit in booster seats.
    • Children younger than 13 should always sit in the backseat.
  • Do not leave loose object in vehicles - they can become hazards in an accident.
  • Do not drive under the influence of alcohol.
  • Follow the speed limit.
  • Avoid cell phone conversations while driving. If you must talk while driving, use hands-free devices, although it is best to pull over to make the call.
  • Take extra precautions when driving in adverse weather conditions.
    • Allow for more brake time and longer distances between vehicles.
    • Don't use cruise control in the snow or rain.
    • Make sure your tires are in good condition and have enough traction.
  • Make sure your insurance is up to date - most states require drivers to be insured.
  • In case of an emergency, always have the following items in the car: tire jack, spare tire, lug wrench, flashlight, fire extinguisher, screw drivers, extra fuses, flares, jumper cables, engine fluids, first aid kit, and blankets.
  • Be a defensive driver and always be aware of your surroundings.
  • Always turn off your engine when filling your gas tank.
  • Change your oil on a regular basis. Check the engine oil levels every time you get fuel, or at least once a week.
  • Take extra caution when driving at night. Darkness impairs vision which slows reactions times; objects are more difficult to see; distances are more difficult to judge.
  • Turn on headlights at dusk, if not before. Use high beams when other vehicles are not present.
  • If you're in an accident, stay calm, make sure you and your passengers are OK, call the police, exchange insurance information, and call your insurance company to report your claim.

Sources: American Red Cross, Edmunds, Insurance Information Institute, Meinke, AAA


Edmunds: Here you can find a database of automobile-related safety articles. Read up on topics including teen drivers, crash tests, airbags, and tire safety.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Traffic Safety: Browse articles and tips on several different safety topics from aggressive driving to child safety seats to how to talk to older drivers about giving up the keys.

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety - Safety Issues: Read up on safety issues such as safety belts, truck safety, rollovers, speeding, and impaired driving, and bone up on your facts on these topics by clicking on some of this sites' many facts sheets.

KidsHealth for Parents - Auto Safety: Learn all about child safety seats. Find out what type of child safety seat is best for your child, as well as tips on how to make sure the seat and your child are properly secured.