Decorating at Christmas – Top Tips!

Christmas decorations are a staple during the festive period. We realise decorating a home from top to bottom can take a lot of time and effort. However it takes even less time for accidents to happen. Before you start the decoration process, ensure you have enough space for all of your decorations and consider where is best to place each piece.

  • Three Top Tips for Decorating
  1. Avoid decorations made of light tissue paper or cardboard. These decorations are more likely to catch fire.
  2. Don’t attach or put decorations near heat sources.
  3. Check all fuses on electrical goods are the right type. If unsure check the instructions or seek advice.
  • Tree Safety

Fire safety must be considered when keeping a live tree in your house. When selecting a tree ensure that the needles are green. If the needles break it means the tree has not been freshly cut. Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks.

  • Decorating The Tree

Ensure that all lights on the tree have been unplugged before leaving for any period of time. To create a sense of occupancy in your property, set a timer for outside lighting and several internal lights. If you find you have an excess of lighting on or near the tree, avoid overloading electrical sockets.

Self-Catering & Holiday Let Insurance

One of Scotland’s biggest insurance brokers, Bruce Stevenson, has unveiled a bespoke insurance package for those holiday home owners who let out their properties amid concerns many may not have appropriate cover.

The number of people owning a second property, which is used for holiday home lets and self-catering guests has soared in recent years. Meanwhile the rise of Airbnb style platforms has seen many open their own home to paying guests.

However, it is feared they may be relying on typical household insurance that does not give them the extensive cover they need to deal with the wide range of special issues that can go hand in hand with running a self-catering and holiday let.

Common problems include accidental or malicious damage caused by guests, loss of earnings when a property is damaged or in need of repair, and accidents involving visitors.

Owners also need to be aware of whether their cover remains valid during periods when their property is unoccupied between lets.  Additionally, cover is required for loss of income should their accommodation become seriously damaged or in need in extensive repairs.

The new Self-Catering and Holiday Lets insurance comes under the banner of Bruce Stevenson’s highly successful “StaySafe” policy, launched two years ago to cater for Britain’s £2 billion bed and breakfast industry.

Key features include:

  • Accidental damage as standard
  • Theft and attempted theft cover
  • Malicious damage cover, including damage by guests
  • Liability cover for paying guests and employees
  • Loss of income cover of up to £500,000 for up to two years following damage to the property

The new policy, which is not valid for Airbnb listed properties, means self-catering and holiday lets owners will enjoy the same peace of mind as B&B businesses covered by the Broker’s StaySafe package, including liability cover for employees of up to £10 million, liability for paying guests up to £2 million and up to £40,000 for their effects.

The StaySafe package was drawn up specifically for the hospitality industry in partnership with RSA Insurance Group. It is available to businesses across the UK.

According to the Association of Scotland’s self-caterers recent Economic Impact study there is a total of 16,162 self-catering or short term rental properties in Scotland. Meanwhile Scottish Government commissioned research has shown that the total of Airbnb listings in Scotland increased by 184% between January 2016 to January 2017.

Edward Bruce, chief executive at Bruce Stevenson, said:

“Earning money from a second property is seen by more and more people as a revenue generator for the owner. But it does come with risks, and it is imperative that there’s a comprehensive policy in place to protect the owner from potential losses or the impact of damage to their property.”

“There are a range of challenges that come with letting a second home to visitors, particularly when they are self-catering and you’re not there every day to keep an eye on things. A typical household policy will almost certainly not provide all the cover a holiday let landlord needs.

“That’s why it is so important to have bespoke insurance policies which have been drawn up by people who understand the potential problems and can help safeguard against their impact. We’ve been serving our customers for more than 30 years and are proud of our personal, flexible service, competitive premiums and free quotations.”

Bruce Stevenson’s StaySafe cover includes a 24-hour claims helpline while the highly experienced claims department has extensive knowledge of a wide range of situations.

For more information please contact Fiona Reid on 01896 804912 or [email protected]

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.”

Weather Update: Amber Warning 16th October

The weather warning has now been upgraded to Amber for today from 12pm to 11pm covering the following regions; SW Scotland Lothian & Borders and Strathclyde. The chief forecaster’s statement confirms the following;

Ex-Ophelia will move northwards across the west of Ireland today bringing some very strong winds to Northern Ireland along with parts of north and west Wales and the extreme southwest of Scotland. Gusts of 55-65 mph are expected widely with 80 mph gusts likely in places. A smaller area of very gusty winds is then likely to run across Northern Ireland from the west with 65-75 mph gusts possible for a short period of time in any one location. Winds are expected to peak across Northern Ireland and north and west Wales this afternoon including this evening’s busy travel period and to peak across southwest Scotland this evening.

For information, the definition of an amber warning is;

• Amber: There is an increased likelihood of bad weather affecting you, which could potentially disrupt your plans and possibly cause travel delays, road and rail closures, interruption to power and the potential risk to life and property. Amber means you need to be prepared to change your plans and protect you, your family and community from the impacts of the severe weather based on the forecast from the Met Office

The likelihood of a surge event is therefore increased in comparison to a yellow warning. If the weather is adversely affecting you, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us. 

Tel: 0131 553 229331 55

 

Weather Update: Effective from 16th October

The Met Office have issued two weather warnings in respect of wind, with the first covering the Highlands & Eilean Siar, SW Scotland, Lothian & Borders and Strathclyde in addition to Irish and English regions.  This is effective from Monday 16th October from 12pm to 11.55pm with the Chief Forecaster confirming;

Very strong winds are forecast to affect western parts of the UK during Monday. Southerly winds are most likely to gust between 55 and 65 mph across much of the warning area with the potential for gusts of 80 mph in coastal areas, particularly in Northern Ireland. These strong winds are forecast in association with the northward track of ex-Ophelia across or near to the west of the British Isles. Heavy rain is also possible in association with this system with north-western UK most prone at this stage.

The second weather warning does not affect Highlands & Eilean Siar however moves into Central Tayside & Fife in addition to the regions already mentioned above, the impact is expected to be less severe although the weather warning is active from Tuesday 17th October at 00.05 and 6pm. The Chief Forecaster advises the following;

Very strong winds are forecast to affect northern parts of the UK during Tuesday. South-westerly winds are most likely to gust between 50 and 60 mph across much of the warning area with the potential for gusts of 70 mph across the Central Belt of Scotland and parts of Northeast England. The strongest winds could potentially coincide with the morning rush hour. Heavy rain is also possible in association with this system with western Scotland most prone at this stage

The wind speeds predicted give an increased risk of structural damage to properties with potential flooding arising from heavy rain.  The grading of the warning is yellow which is the lowest level, we therefore do not expect a surge event to be triggered however we will of course monitor the effects in respect of claims from clients in addition to service from insurers/adjusters.

If the weather is adversely affecting you please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us. For further weather updates you can visit the Met Office Website.

Main Sponsors of Fife Whisky Festival

INAUGURAL FIFE WHISKY FESTIVAL ANNOUNCED

The first ever Fife Whisky Festival will take place on Saturday the 10th of March 2018, at the Corn Exchange in Cupar.

Justine Hazlehurst, founder of Kask Whisky, and Karen Somerville, founder of Angels’ Share Glass, joined forces earlier this year to organise the festival and bring whisky back to the Kingdom of Fife. Karen said: “After many years of attending whisky festivals around the world, drinking the water of life in the name of research, Justine and I are both delighted to be able to bring this exciting new event to Scotland.”

The inaugural Fife Whisky Festival, which is sponsored by Bruce Stevenson Insurance Brokers, will showcase the renaissance of whisky-making in Fife, bringing together whisky connoisseurs and beginners with the best whisky producers from Fife and beyond. With over 25 different exhibitors, including the Kingsbarns Distillery, Morrison and Mackay, Glen Moray, Isle of Arran and the Glasgow Distillery, there will be a huge range of whiskies to try.

Vince Fusaro, of the famous Luvians Bottle Shop, the festival’s official retailer, said: “From Friar John Cor in 1494 to, amongst others, farmer Francis Cuthbert in the present day, whisky certainly has come home to Fife. I’m immensely proud to be in the whisky world and to be playing a central part in the Fife Whisky Festival.”

Fife-based musical duo The Coaltown Daisies, famous for producing The Whisky Song for World Whisky Day earlier this year, are sure to get everyone’s toes tapping as they enjoy a dram or two.

Commenting on the sponsorship, Graeme Dempster at Bruce Stevenson Insurance Brokers, added: “We are delighted to support Fife’s first Whisky Festival, this sponsorship is one of a number of whisky event initiatives that Bruce Stevenson Insurance Brokers support. The whisky industry has complex insurance needs and we specialise in delivering tailored solutions to distilleries. We also insure private whisky collections so this really is a great opportunity for us to support an exciting new whisky event, which will be a huge success whilst raising awareness of what we do in this field.”

 

Cllr Margaret Kennedy, welcoming the Fife Whisky Festival to Cupar, said: “This is fantastic news for the town. Given, in Luvians, we have an outstanding local business with very sound knowledge of the product it is very fitting that Fife’s first Whisky Festival should be in Cupar. “I wish the festival organisers well with the event and look forward to hearing many cries of ‘Slàinte’ ringing out.”

To buy tickets and for more details about the Fife Whisky Festival, go to www.fifewhiskyfestival.com

:: For more details about Angels’ Share Glass unique products for whisky-lovers go to www.angelsshareglass.com

:: For more details about Kask Whisky, go to www.kaskwhisky.com

Cycling can be a risky business!

With our Corporate Ambassador, Mark Beaumont now back in one piece (broken tooth and fractured elbow aside!), from his World Cycle, we have considered the potential hazards of this ever-growing sport.  Before we embark on a cycle or car journey most people undertake a mental Risk Assessment without even realising it. Things to do, things to take with you, things to avoid!

From a cycling point of view Hazards can include:-

Traffic

There are many other road users out there – cars, vans, trucks and other cyclists.  In the event of a cycling race controls could include route planning to avoid heavy traffic/ large vehicles etc.

Wearing the right kit is essential.  Should there be an incident having a qualified First Aider available with appropriate Fist Aid kit would be required. On any distance event, falls are inevitable and plans must be in place on how to deal with these, patch up the rider and get them back in the race.

 

 

Weather

We can’t control the weather or avoid it however tyre choice, appropriate waterproof clothing and changes of clothing being available can make a big difference to performance. Aerodynamic equipment, helmet, cycle frame, wheels etc will reduce the drag of head winds.

Mechanical Failure

The condition of a bike is critical to performance.   Appropriate tyres for the road surface of the stage or journey, available spare wheels to deal with punctures as quickly as possible, spare brake pads, lubricants and tools should all be available to make adjustments.  Daily servicing of the cycle will ensure the optimum machine reliability.

Fatigue

When fatigue sets in mistakes happen and there is an increased risk of falls / collisions. Nutrition and hydration are key.  Mark had to take in 9000 calories per day to ensure he was able to perform at the top of his game.   In cycle races on closed roads food and water can be passed from a car window. On public roads that is very dangerous so passing energy drinks / food to the rider by a support pedestrian as the rider passes at an agreed location is much more manageable.

In addition, good communication systems are required to get feedback from the rider as to how they are feeling. Planned breaks must be built into the journey and assessed as the trip continues to ensure they are effective.   Companion riders can be brought into the ride at appropriate times to help pull the solo cyclist along.

Injury

As with any sport it is critical to maintain peak physical condition.   Warm up at the beginning of a journey and warm down towards the end or after a stage. Whilst you may not be cycling 18,000 miles (!)  you may be taking part in an endurance event so having physios available for massage and treatment every day would be an important part of the regime.

For further information on our Risk Management services, please contact our Risk Management Consultant, Nick Morrall – 07977 559504 or [email protected]

Weather Update: Sunday 1st – Monday 2nd October

It’s definitely a windy start to October!  The Met Office have a weather warning in place covering all Scottish regions as well as North England and Northern Ireland, the Chief Forecaster confirms the following;

“Winds are expected to strengthen across northwestern areas on Sunday evening with a swathe of gale force winds expected to cross many northern parts of the UK during Monday. Gusts of 50-60 mph are likely to develop quite widely, with gusts of 70 mph possible over parts of northern and western Scotland and more locally over high ground elsewhere. Winds are expected to peak across western Scotland in the early hours of Monday and through the Central Belt of Scotland during Monday morning’s busy travel period. The strongest of the winds should gradually become confined to northeast Scotland by late evening. In addition, frequent heavy showers are likely to affect parts of western and northern Scotland. This warning has been updated to include more of northwest England whilst the likelihood in the risk matrix has been elevated”

This warning is set to be active until 11.55pm tonight, wind speeds of the extent noted are likely to result in some damage. If the weather is adversely affecting you please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us. For further weather updates you can visit the Met Office Website.