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Monthly Archives: November 2016

How to Avoid Holiday Home Fires

Having personally experienced a house fire on Christmas Eve 2014, I am very interested in avoiding the same fate in the future. Even though our local fire department was able to douse the flames relatively quickly and we did not lose our dogs or valuables, the fire was devastating. No one wants to come home to the sound of fire engines, black smoke pouring out of your front door and black soot coating every nook and cranny of the home. While we were fortunate to have excellent insurance, which allowed us to restore our furnishings and live close by for nine months, the fire was still extremely disruptive and very sad.

So.. here are some tips for avoiding house fires at the holidays.
One out of every three home Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems. Our fire began when some twinkling lights came in contact with gold mesh that was draped over a manger scene—all placed on a wicker table that burst into flames.

According to, “most house fires happen during the holidays, and Christmas trees are one of the biggest reasons“. Even more frightening is the fact that, once Christmas trees ignite, they can explode into flames in seconds. Be sure you pick a Christmas tree that is green and whose needles do not fall off easily, and then water your tree daily. Brown needles are highly flammable.

Place the tree at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights. Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit. This is especially important for older people, who might have trouble navigating an escape.

When lighting your tree, only use lights that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory. Some lights are appropriate for inside use and some should only be used outside. If the light strand has worn or frayed cords or loose bulb connections, replace the string. Do not connect too many light strands together. NEVER use candles as lights on the tree.

Be sure to turn your tree lights off when you leave your house or retire for the night. If we had done this simple step, we would have avoided our fire.

With outside lights, be careful with the plug-in cords. These cords are susceptible to water and can shock you or catch fire. In the same vein, remember not to use indoor light bulbs outside your home or outside light bulbs inside.

Barbara Gracey Backer

Barbara Gracey Backer is the Vice-President of Gracey-Backer, Inc., an Insurance Agency in Delray Beach, Florida specializing in All Lines of Professional and Personal Insurance. She may be contacted at 800-272-6055 X118 or at

Do I need to purchase flood Insurance if I live on an upper floor of my condominium?

When summer rolls around in Florida, the torrential rains threaten to cause flooding. And this is only the beginning, because then we have hurricane season, with its inherent risk of intense floods. With so many homeowners in Florida living in condominiums, we are often asked if they need flood insurance, especially if they are on the upper floors.

The answer is simple. Yes, a Florida condominium unit owner on the upper floors of a condominium should purchase flood insurance. This is especially true if the condominium building is located near the ocean.

The biggest flood exposure a unit owner has is damage from a major hurricane or tidal surge which undermines the structure of the entire building. So, even thought the water itself may not reach the upper floors, the force of that water could collapse the building, making the unit uninhabitable. This is obviously an unlikely scenario. But that is what insurance is all about—large numbers of people pooling their money to insure an unlikely event.

In this case, if water damages your unit, your flood insurance policy will respond. In addition, your policy will respond if the condo association’s flood master policy is insufficient to cover damage to the common elements and you are assessed for the difference. While these risks are rare, they would be catastrophic if they occurred.

It is recommended that you check with the condominiums property manager to see if there is a Master Flood Insurance Policy in force. The master flood insurance policy will help us know how much coverage can be written on your additions and alterations and on your contents. The property manager should also have the elevation certificate of the building on hand, which is needed to secure an accurate quote on your unit’s flood insurance.

Remember that a Florida Condominium Unit Owner’s (Homeowner’s) Insurance Policy does NOT cover the peril of flood. Many Florida condominium owners have the false impression that they are fully covered for hurricanes by their homeowner’s policy without taking the risk of flooding into account.

Gracey-Backer, Inc., an Insurance Agency in Delray Beach, Florida specializes in all lines of personal insurance, and has since 1925. For a no-obligation quote on homeowner’s insurance, auto insurance, flood insurance, boat insurance, or umbrella insurance policies, please contact us 561-276-6055 or 800-272-6055 and ask for a Personal Lines Account Executive. Or you can email us at

David C. Backer

David C. Backer, of Gracey-Backer, Inc., an Insurance Agency in Delray Beach, Florida specializing in All Lines of Malpractice, Professional and Personal Insurance. He can be contacted at 800-272-6055 ext 114, or at

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