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Bruce Sackrison

Bruce Sackrison is a Napa Valley Register columnist who will write about property and casualty insurance matters.

As we celebrate America and summer, let’s remember to be insurance-smart too.

I want everyone to have a marvelous Fourth of July with friends and family. But remember that three specific risks increase on this particular holiday. So, let’s talk about them, and how you can be prepared.

1. Increased traffic enforcement

First, we all know that beer, wine coolers and other adult beverages are flowing a little more freely on the Fourth of July.

Because of that, law enforcement will be extra diligent to keep us all safe on the road.

So have a designated driver ready after the party or a cab lined up to get you home. A mistake can cost you thousands, including much higher insurance premiums for years to come.

Second, because of the increased enforcement on the roads, you have a much higher chance of hearing those dreaded words... “license, registration, and proof of insurance, please.”

Fortunately, California is one of about a dozen states that allows for digital proof of insurance (like an app on your phone).

But since many of these traffic stops will occur at night, and you’ll be nervous, I’d recommend also having a paper copy of your proof of insurance easily accessible.

2. Increased fireworks risks

California has a “Safe and Sane” fireworks law. However, our local laws in Napa don’t allow for any fireworks.

But that may not stop your friends from buying sparklers in another community and bringing them to your backyard. And it’s hard to tell them to not light ‘em up. But maybe it’s worth the risk to be a party-pooper.

The National Fire Protection Association says that fireworks cause more than 15,000 fires each year.

As much as your insurance agent wants help you if you have a loss due to fire... we’d much rather that you never experience a fire.

Fireworks are fire hazards. So just say ‘no’. It’s the law in Napa, and it’s a safety issue.

3. Increased accidents and injuries

Speaking of fireworks, did you know that “harmless” sparklers are Emergency Room Enemy Number One? Turns out they aren’t so harmless.

Over one-quarter of all fireworks-related ER visits on the Fourth of July are caused by sparklers. That’s more than any other type of fireworks-related injury.

The Fourth of July is a fun time. But it’s also a time of accidents and injuries. As the sergeant used to say on Hill Street Blues: “let’s be careful out there.” None of us want to find out how good our insurance is.

My advice:

In addition to the advice I’ve given above, I’d recommend making a phone call to your local agent to make sure your homeowners insurance has enough liability coverage, including “guest medical” coverage.

As always, if you don’t have a local agent, I’d be happy to answer any questions you have.

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Bruce Sackrison is an insurance property and casualty broker affiliated with Professional Insurance Associates. He is at 707-931-0186 or bruces@sackifs.com.

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