Remember, remember the Fifth of November

It’s that time of year again and whilst we don’t want to dampen the spirit, we have some great tips to help you stay safe.

Sparkle safely!

Sparklers can be perceived as harmless fireworks. However they actually burn at very high temperatures and therefore can cause serious damage and injuries. When handling sparklers remember to,

  • Always light one sparkler at a time. Lighting several at a time will increase the risk of creating a flare up.
  • Wear gloves when handling sparklers. This will reduce the risk of burning your hands.
  • When sparklers are lit, hold them at arm’s length and ensure you remain a safe distance from others.
  • Don’t light sparklers near any other fireworks you may have. This increases the risk of fire.
  • When the sparkler is finished, put it in a bucket of cold water. Sparklers retain their temperature even after they have been extinguished. Emerging them in cold water will reduce the temperature quickly.

Check out our favourite recipe for Bonfire Banoffee Pie!

Ingredients:

  • 300g Ginger nut biscuits or digestives
  • 100g Butter
  • 5 Bananas (Peel, Slice Lengthways, then in half)
  • 1 X 397g tin Carnation Caramel
  • 3 x 200g Bags of Marshmallows

Method:

  1. Line the base of a 21cm loose bottomed tart tin (3.5cm deep) with nonstock baking paper. Blitz the biscuits in a food processor until they reach a fine crumb with the melted butter and spoon into the tin. Use the back of a spoon to press the biscuits into the base and up to the side. Chill in the fridge for 30minutes.
  2. Lay the bananas on the base in an even layer. Spoon the caramel into a bowl, stir well until smooth, then pour evenly over the bananas, to the top of the biscuit case. Chill for a further 30minuntes.
  3. Preheat the grill to high. Arrange the marshmallows on top, starting with an even layer all over, then pile up to 2 or 3 high in the centre. Grill for 15 secs or until gooey and brown on top. Decorate cake with sparklers if you like.

Ghoulishly good tips to help prepare you and your home for Halloween!

Halloween Travel Tips

If you travel on the roads this Halloween we advise you use extra caution to protect yourself, fellow passengers and others around you.

  • When traveling through neighbourhoods and poorly lit areas, use the utmost caution and drive slowly. Children’s movements can be unpredictable. Additionally their costume may make them less visible to you.
  • Avoid distraction whilst driving by putting your all devices away, this will reduce all temptation to take glances.
  • If you are wearing a costume that restricts your movement or view, take it off for the duration of your journey.

A scarily safe pumpkin

Using a candle to illuminate your well carved pumpkin can be dangerous, Halloween costumes and paper decorations can easily catch fire. Therefore consider using a battery powered candle or alternatively a toy jack-o’-lantern. Both will provide you with a seriously spooky yet safe glow.

Trick or Treat?

Whilst nearly all trick or treaters are harmless children eager to gather as many sweets as they can, it’s important you remain vigilant when answering your door. Halloween costumes can be deceiving, therefore if you have an particularly uneasy feeling about the person behind the mask, don’t open the door!

Sitting this Halloween out?

No problem, but don’t turn the lights out!! Yes a well lit house may well attract little monsters, however it will likely dissuade potential thieves!

Check out our favourite recipe for toffee apples below!

Ingredients:

  • 8 Apples
  • 400g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 4 tbsp golden syrup
  • 6 drops of red food colouring (optional)

Method:

  1. Remove the wax coating on your apples and place them in a bowl.
  2. Cover the apples in boiling water. After 30 seconds remove the apples and remove the stalks and place the apples on a wooden skewer.
  3. To make the toffee, pour the sugar into a saucepan. Add 100ml water and set over a medium heat until the sugar dissolves, then add the golden syrup and vinegar. Use a spoon to pour a little toffee into a bowl of cold water. When it’s ready it will harden instantly. If the toffee is still soft, continue to heat.
  4. Carefully and quickly pick up each apple using the stick and dip it into the toffee. Rotate each apple in the hot toffee until fully covered, drain for a few seconds then place onto baking paper with the sticks facing up and vertical.
  5. Leave to cool, then enjoy!

Highly Commended Winner 2017 of Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight

We are delighted to have been given a highly commended award for our efforts at promoting Scottish Food & Drink during the recent Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight 2017.  The initiative encouraged businesses of all shapes and sizes to change just one thing to promote Scottish produce.  As members of Scotland’s Food & Drink we championed local producers and suppliers via our social media channels.

Speaking at the official prize giving at the NorthLink Ferries terminal in Aberdeen, Fiona Richmond, Head of Regional Food at Scotland Food & Drink, said:

“Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight takes place every year and it’s a fantastic way of celebrating our growers, producers, chefs and restaurateurs’, as well as our vast and delicious Scottish larder.”

How To: Protect your home during renovations

Great article in the Scotsman at the weekend by Al Richards one of our in-house private client and art experts.

Your home is often your most valuable asset.  Rebuild values can run into excess of £1m so there are many things to consider before planning any refurbishment or renovation works.

Home insurers are often unable to accept the risk of insuring your home if it is undergoing works in excess of £50,000. To an insurer, the risk has materially changed and your home is effectively classed as a building site. This could leave you uninsured if, for example, a fire broke out that’s unrelated to the building works.

Heritage and period properties can present the most challenging circumstances with high rebuild values. In some cases, homes in Scotland have faced rebuilds in excess of £20m where millions are being spent on renovation works.

It is essential to protect the existing structure therefore you should look to insure your contract works under one ‘catch-all’ policy to avoid gaps in cover or any grey areas. This will ensure a cleaner, simpler claims process should any incidents occur.  Therefore, before you undertake any sort of home works, you must inform your broker or insurer.

If you don’t take these steps, your existing insurer will most likely reduce the cover provided under your existing policy and in many cases may cancel this cover altogether. This could leave your home uninsured at a time of potential risk or damage during the renovations.

There are two risk elements to consider: the contract works including works in progress, plant and machinery, building materials, liabilities and your existing home, its contents and your liabilities.

Many homeowners aren’t aware that their home insurance premium could change as a result of work.  However your property is more susceptible to damage during building work. The risk of fire increases greatly if there is electrical work, welding or hot works being undertaken or if there are paint removal torches being used. Incidences of theft can potentially occur with the number of people working on the site at any given time.

There’s also a greater likelihood of exposure to the elements or damage to water pipes.  In addition there are increased liabilities such as the risk to public safety due to falls and accidents from holes and accessible walkways.

Your household insurer is unlikely to agree to insure the works so this leaves you reliant on your architect or contractor’s Contractors All Risks and Public and Employer’s Liability insurance to provide adequate cover for you.

The two main options are – the contractor insures the works and you continue to insure the existing structure of your home and its contents albeit on a significantly reduced basis.  The other option is that you insure the works and structure under one specialist policy. This will allow you to retain complete control over the insurance for your home.

It is advisable to talk to your insurance broker before undertaking any work as they will introduce you to a policy that will continue to insure your buildings, contents and liabilities within your existing home policy.  This can be combined with the building works on an all risks basis up to a contract value of £5m and beyond.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact Al Richards – [email protected] or call  0131 553 2293.

Bruce Stevenson colleagues to ride in The Hiscox Tourmalet Challenge

“The Hiscox Tourmalet Challenge takes place on the 8th July 2016 in the Pyrenees mountains of southern France to raise monies for a number of charities. A team of brokers and Hiscox staff will cycle Stage 8 of the 2016 Tour de France the day before the professionals and Bruce Stevenson Insurance Brokers will be represented on this epic ride by Derek Skinner and Gary Bratt, both of whom are accomplished cyclists and eager to accept the challenge.

The punishing 147.5km route from Lourdes to Bagnères-de-Luchon (the professionals will start in Pau, covering 183km with the additional 33.5km coming on flat roads before arriving at the mountains) includes four large mountain climbs, including the iconic Col du Tourmalet which tops out at 2115m.

The team’s aim (apart from conquering the four climbs on the route) is to raise a total of £25,000 for charity. Each member of the team will choose a charity for which he or she will raise funds. To donate, please go to the following JustGiving  page and sponsor the riders for a worthy cause.”

Ill winds a risky business for community renewables sector

?Article recently published by Community Energy Scotland.

An example of the impact of weather-related risk occurred in Orkney in December 2014. There were more than 100 lightning strikes an hour at times, which resulted in tens of thousands of domestic properties left without power. This placed immense pressure on the utility companies to reinstate services.

To read the full article, please visit Community Energy Scotland.

Insurance Age – specialist lines virtual event

Derek Skinner, our Renewable Energy Director discusses the challenges and opportunities within the green economy for insurance brokers with Emmanuel Kenning, Editor of Insurance Age.  Part of Insurance Age’s specialist lines virtual event today.

Click here to watch the video.

To see more of today’s virtual event, please visit Insurance Age.

 

Farming Insights – Post Harvest Preparations

Despite a prolonged harvest season and with the days starting to shorten, farmers will now be preparing to bring their livestock inside for the winter and perhaps storing their harvested grain for winter animal feed or waiting for their malting-quality grain to be uplifted.

It has been a difficult year, compounded by low prices in many sectors, poor weather and trying working conditions. The net effect of all of these has been that the farming community is trying to reduce costs whenever it is possible. All too often though, these savings can put pressure on other parts of the business as well. For example, putting off repairs to where livestock are going to be overwintered can simply create a larger repair bill later in the year when the weather can be against us and a simple job takes twice as long.

Now is the time to prepare the whole farm for the winter months. The old adage “A stitch in time, saves nine” is never truer than at this time of year.

Farmers are advised to take time this year, to walk round their buildings and make note of any repairs that need to be undertaken and make sure that their farm sheds and courts are up to scratch – gutters have been cleared of leaves and other debris; any loose slates have been re-attached or missing ones replaced and any leaks have been plugged.

Another area that can easily be overlooked until there is a problem is free flowing drains. Check all drains or ditches are clear from debris.  If there are any blockages arrange for these to be cleared to prevent potential flooding issues. It is recommended that all shed doors are checked, re-hung or strengthened as required, in order to minimise any wind damage that may occur during the autumn storms.

Tidy up and dispose of any packaging and used net or wrap. These can help provide shelter in the colder months for rodents if not removed. Vermin are likely to be more prevalent at this time of year with a tasty food source easily at hand. The laying of baits may need to be increased and farmers are reminded to update their bait plan in the farm records if additional locations have been added.

Where time and space allows, it is worth treating the machinery to a thorough post-harvest service and deep clean. This will help in keeping equipment in good working order for next season and may also reduce the likelihood of fire damage whilst equipment is stored up for the season.

Any comments or questions?  Please contact Jean Arnott-Glennie on 07881 093485 or email [email protected]

Farming Insights – Harvest

Although the weather might not feel like the end of summer, farmers across the country are gearing up for one of their busiest times of year – the harvesting season.

Silage and hay-making should be more or less finished for the year and given the vagaries of the UK climate, inside storage helps protect the fodder crops for the winter feeding of livestock. Inside storage, however, does not come without its own risks with fire being the predominant concern. The inner limits on insurance, for storage and stack sizes, should be checked especially on larger farming enterprises.

Harvesting also has many inherent risks. Operating of large machinery and long hours can lead to extreme tiredness for farm workers.   And there is the all too common fire risks associated with both combine harvesters, balers and grain drying equipment.

Quite often there are extra labourers on farms at this time of year and it is important that any new employees are fully trained in the operation of machinery and that the farmer or farm manager is able to document  this in the event of  injury during harvest.

Taking time to check the electrics on machinery that may have not been used since last season is also an important part of harvest preparation. In a season that will be difficult at best and farmers it is easy to assume that everything is in full working order. The insurance industry has experienced claims for fire damage to grain driers and other farm machinery and it would seem that most of these are caused by a combination of electrical faults and excess dust igniting. The results of the fires can be extensive. The loss of the harvested grain is often only the start. There can also be the additional expense of a contractor having to complete the harvest for the farmer, the cost of paying an outside company to dry the grain and even damage to the sheds which were to be used for storing the harvested grain and many other hidden costs beside.

So the simple message this year to our farming community, is to:

Take time to Train

Take time to Rest

Take time to Assess and

Take time to Prepare

And don’t fall into the TRAP of rushing into harvest ill-equipped

Any comments or questions?  Please contact Jean Arnott on 07881 093485 or email [email protected]