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Baldwin / Welsh & Parker

Pick pocket

Your summer and vacation plans will be the best ever - especially if you follow the checklist below! Remember to contact your Baldwin / Welsh & Parker agent for questions regarding insurance coverage for your vacation home, rental property, boat, or rental car. Here are 9 of the best quick tips we have found to keep you and your loved ones secure and safe!

Before You Leave

  1. Scan important travel documents and store them in a secure online repository. In the event that your information is lost or stolen, using an online repository allows you to easily access copies of your passport, drivers license, visa, and any other vital identification from anywhere in the world. Remember to do this for every person traveling with you, including children.
  2. Register in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. Visit https://step.state.gov/step/ to enroll in STEP, which provides comprehensive traveler information, including travel alerts and restrictions; information on visas or vaccinations; crime and stability update; road conditions; laws of the country you're visiting; and consular contact information.
  3. Take only what you need. Chances are that you will not be writing checks; leave these and any extra debit cards or credit cards that you will not be using at home. This will decrease the amount of institutions you will need to contact if they are lost and decreases the damage criminals can wreak on your accounts. 
  4. Put mail on "postal hold" while you're gone. Go to your local post office or do it online at https://holdmail.usps.com/holdmail/
  5. Make your home look lived-in. Arrange for friends or family you trust to pick-up newspapers, mail, and advertisement flyers in order to avoid drawing attention to your home. This will reduce the risk of break-ins which may result in the loss of valuables, including your identity.

While you are traveling

  1. Carry valuables safely. Your valuables and identification are a mere swipe away from a purse-snatcher or pickpocket. Money belts kept under clothing are the safest. For stowing cash, credit cards and identification, inside pockets and sturdy shoulder bags with straps across the chest are much better than handbags, fanny packs or outside pockets.
  2. Use the hotel safe. Place your cash, credit cards and especially your passport and all identification documents in the safe whenever they are not in use.
  3. Take caution with public computers and Wi-Fi. If possible, avoid using public computers to access anything sensitive, such as conducting online banking, making purchases, or accessing email accounts. These computers could potentially have malware that is designed to capture the information you have entered. Avoid these same activities when using a public Wi-Fi connection as the information can easily be captured by criminals on the same connection. Make sure to use an encrypted Internet connection whenever you go online.
  4. Be aware of social media updates. We all like to share photos online with our family and friends as we are traveling. However, when you tell people where you are, you are also telling them where you aren't - at home. Criminals use this information to gain access to your home, which contains your valuables, including your identification.

Click here for more travel tips.

Excerpt from Fraud Smarts, by Daniel Szabo. A practical how-to guide to help everyone stay safe to avoid the latest scams and prevent identity theft. With hundreds of easy to follow tips, this guide is designed as a go-to resource for consumers, teenagers, college students, families, senior citizens and small businesses. This book also provides a complete list of resources and support for victims of fraud.  

Travel large

by Megan Wilson, Trusted Choice

As millions of Americans hit the airports, holiday joy can turn into holiday despair really quickly. Long lines, cranky infants, turbulence, unexpected delays, and cramped quarters can test your limits when traveling. Here is a list of pro tips to make your summer travel as easy and simple as possible.

1. Know your plane

Once you’ve decided on day, and are debating flights, take a look at the planes available. Look up the plane’s type, and make sure you’re comfortable with the layout. Websites likewww.seatguru.comare invaluable in giving you an insider’s peek at your flight. From customer photos and seating charts with recommendations to actual reviews by people who have taken the same flight, this website can help you make your flight as comfortable as economy can be, helping you avoid common pitfalls like limited recline or a squeaky neighboring seat.

2. Bring your own food

Many fliers are intimidated by the TSA regulations regarding bringing food through security; however, much of this anxiety can be avoided. To make it simple, you’re allowed to bring your own food through security, as long as it’s wrapped. (It does have to go through the scanner, however.) This not only can help those with special food needs or allergies, but also helps you avoid long lines and frustrating or expensive airport restaurant experiences. Additionally, many airport restaurants overload you with salt and fat, leaving you in an uncomfortable situation for sitting on a plane for hours on end.

3. Keep hydrated – start before you fly

Sitting in a 17.2-inch wide seat for hours is definitely not the most comfortable place to be. This can take a toll not only on your sanity, but on your health as well. In addition to cramped quarters, the oxygen in a plane is thinner, which can cause you to get dehydrated much more easily than usual. To combat this, cut down on your salt intake the day before you fly and drink a few extra glasses of water. Always say no to alcoholic drinks on board. While they may be tempting, the alcohol, in addition to the thin air, can lead to dehydration before you know it. Grab some H20 once you're past security and keep it handy during your flight.

4. Take a stroll

While it may not be convenient for your neighbors, it’s important to get up and walk during your flight. As you sit on a plane, blood flow to your upper body can be impeded, leading to swelling and aching in your legs and ankles. Every hour or so, make it a point to take a quick break to go to the restroom or walk the aisle a few times to give your body a kick-start. To avoid post-flight leg cramps, snack on a banana for a quick potassium boost.

5. Entertain yourself

While it’s nice to bring a laptop or music player on a plane, try to bring something a little more time-consuming, like a notepad and a set of coloring pencil, or an easy craft. Finding something that actually exercises your brain to take your mind off things can help make a long flight seem shorter.

6. Traveling with kids

Traveling with kids is a huge challenge. From diaper changes (whoever invented the changing tables that are found in airplane bathrooms needs to be shot) to squirmy kids, there’s no two ways about i: Be ready for anything. Kids and infants get restless easily, so opt to sit near the aisle so you can take frequent walking breaks. Additionally, if you ask politely and explain your situation, many stewardesses can help you find a row that has an extra seat for you and all your gear to spread out in for the flight. Bring lots of books and activities, and pick up some of those easy-to-do crafts from your local dollar store. Typically self-contained in a cellophane bag and not needing glue or heavy craft artillery, these are a great way to keep your kids amused.

7. Don’t get exposed

One big drawback to flying is the exposure to others – and their germs. Make sure to stock up on your immune-boosting vitamins before hitting the skies. You are 100 times more likely to catch a cold on a plane than at any other time. You may also want to consider wearing a mask while in flight to avoid germ inhalation as well. You may look silly, but you’ll be enjoying your destination while others may be sitting in a doctor’s office.

Good luck and safe travels from everyone here at Baldwin / Welsh & Parker!

Car Rental

From our Trusted Choice friends

As the summer holiday season approaches, millions of Americans will take to the roads to visit family and friends. Since many will make the trip in a rented car, it’s an appropriate time to discuss one of the most frequently asked questions of agents and brokers all over the country: “Should I buy the insurance from the rental car company?”

Following are a few considerations when mulling this important decision:

Damage Waiver & Your Personal Auto Policy  

First, the good news: In many cases, a personal auto insurance policy will cover damage to a rented vehicle. That said—don’t get too comfortable! There are other costs associated with damage to a rented vehicle that the policy will not cover. For this reason, careful consideration should be given to purchasing the damage waiver offered by the rental car company.

On your personal auto policy, “Collision” insurance covers your vehicle for damage resulting from a collision with another object. “Comprehensive” (sometimes called “Other Than Collision”) covers your vehicle for theft, vandalism, falling objects and other causes not resulting from a collision. If you have a car loan, your lender will require you to purchase both. If you pay the loan off, the choice to purchase collision or comprehensive—and both or neither—is up to you.

Your personal auto policy will only cover damage to the rental car if you have the appropriate coverage type on at least one vehicle you own. For example, if you damage the rental car in a collision, you must have “collision” coverage on at least one vehicle covered by your personal auto policy. But if the rental car is stolen, vandalized, or damaged in any way not resulting from a collision, you must have “comprehensive” coverage on at least one vehicle covered by your personal auto policy. The key point: If your personal auto policy excludes the coverage type that damages the rental car—and you reject or violate the damage waiver—you will become personally responsible for paying all costs related to the damaged rental car out of your own pocket! In contrast, the damage waiver usually offered at the rental counter will cover the damaged rental car regardless of what’s covered by your personal auto policy.

Limitation in Your Personal Auto Policy

What else could you possibly owe the rental company following an event or crash? These include administrative fees and the depreciated value of the vehicle after repairs—neither expense is covered by your personal auto policy. In addition, most personal auto policies only pay up to the actual cash value (ACV) of the damaged vehicle. If the contract requires the damaged rental’s replacement, the ACV payout may not be sufficient to cover the entire expense.

Again, in contrast, the damage waiver will cover all such expenses.

Also, the rental contract likely will require you to pay the rental company’s “loss of use.” These are expenses they incur resulting from the inability to earn income from the damaged rental. This cost could be hundreds of dollars or more. Some personal auto policies will pay a limited amount for this expense (such as $20 per day or $600 total). Others will not cover it at all.

In contrast, the damage waiver will pay the full cost of the rental company’s loss of use.

No Claim Necessary

If something happens to the rental car, purchasing the damage waiver gives the rental agency management of the process. This will allow you to avoid filing a claim and possibly help keep the cost of your insurance from going up. It also will keep your deductible in your pocket.

Limitations in the Damage Waiver

Don’t forget that the rental car company’s damage waiver is a contract. It will include a list of restrictions that, if violated, may terminate the waiver and leave you personally responsible for paying the costs associated with the damaged rental car. Examples of such restrictions may include:

•             Damage to rental while driven by someone not specifically named on the contract.

•             Damage to rental while driven on unpaved roads.

•             Damage to rental while it’s being occupied by more passengers than available seatbelts.

•             Damage that occurs while pushing or towing.

This list is only a sample; the typical damage waiver may include additional restrictions.

Moreover, the car rental company’s loss damage waiver covers “diminished value,” the economic reduction in value of a repaired auto due to it having been damaged. Almost all auto policies and many credit card coverages exclude diminished value. What’s the impact to you? If you don’t take the damage waiver, you could get hit with a diminished value claim of $1,500 or more, depending on your type of damaged rental car.

Damage Waiver Covers Vehicle Damage Only

Perhaps the most important fact to remember is that the damage waiver only applies to damage to the rented vehicle. It is not a substitute for liability, medical payments, uninsured motorist, personal injury protection, and any other personal auto insurance coverage.

Other Products Offered by Rental Company 

In addition to the damage waiver, most rental car companies offer a few optional insurance-type products. For example, some may offer a liability enhancement that gives you the option to increase the liability limits you already carry on your personal auto insurance policy. Depending on your available auto liability insurance, this option may be worth consideration.

Others may offer options such as accidental death, trip cancellation, or damaged luggage insurance during the rental period. Such options vary by company and may provide insurance dollars you cannot get elsewhere. However, they should not be purchased without first reviewing your current home, health and auto insurance policies as there may be duplication.

Conclusion

In light of the information above, you should seriously consider—and probably buy—the damage waiver from the rental car company. Deciding whether to purchase other products from the rental firm, however, depends largely on the insurance already available to you from other sources. For assistance in determining coverage you already have and comparing it to the rental company’s options, call your Baldwin / Welsh & Parker Trusted Choice® independent insurance agent today.

Business Travel Note: When you rent a car on a business trip, that’s an entirely different set of decisions, so again please talk with your agent.

Monday, 05 June 2017 01:14

Bicycle Safety and Insurance

bicycle safety

Great article from the Insurance Information Institute

Bicycling is increasingly popular, both as a sport and as a means of transportation. And bicycles can cost anywhere from several hundred dollars for a basic bike to thousands of dollars for specialized racing bikes. Whether you use your bicycle to commute to work or simply like to cycle around the block with your children, it is important to understand the rules of the road and protect your financial investment with the proper insurance.

Bicycles are covered under the personal property section of standard homeowners and renters insurance policies. This coverage will reimburse you, minus your deductible, if your bike is stolen or damaged in a fire, hurricane or other disaster listed in your policy.

If you are purchasing a new bike, keep the receipt and call your insurance agent or company representative immediately. If you own a particularly expensive bicycle, you may want to consider getting an endorsement that will provide additional coverage. Your insurance agent or company representative can review your coverage options with you.

There are two types of coverage for personal property:

Actual Cash Value – reimburses you for what the bicycle is actually worth given its age. A 10-year-old bicycle, for example, would be valued at the cost of a comparable bicycle minus 10 years depreciation.

Replacement Cost Coverage – reimburses you for what it would cost to replace your 10-year-old bicycle with one of like kind and quality at current cost. Replacement cost coverage costs about 10 percent more than actual cash value, but it is a good investment. 

Homeowners and renters insurance policies also provide liability protection for harm you may cause to someone else or their property. If you injure someone in a bicycle accident and he or she decides to sue, you will be covered up to the limits of your policy. Your homeowners or renters insurance also includes no-fault medical coverage in the event you injure someone. This coverage usually ranges from $1,000 to $5,000.

To make filing a claim easier, the I.I.I. suggests the following:

Save your receipts. When you buy your bicycle you may also purchase expensive equipment to go with it, so make sure to save your receipts for everything. The cost of a helmet, patch kits, pumps, extra inner tubes and other essentials, not to mention that fancy new bike jersey, can add up quickly. If your bike and related items are stolen or destroyed, having receipts can help speed the claims process.

Add your bicycle and related items to your home inventory. Everyone should have an up-to-date home inventory of all their personal possessions. An inventory can help you purchase the correct amount of insurance and make the claims filing process easier if there is a loss. To help you create your inventory, the I.I.I. provides free, online software at KnowYourStuff.org.

Of course the best protection of all is to keep your bike safe; to help avoid theft, follow these simple rules:

  • Always lock up your bike, even if it is in your garage, an apartment stairwell, or a college dormitory.
  • Lock your bicycle to a fixed, immovable object like a parking meter or permanent bike rack. Be careful not to lock it to items that can be easily cut, broken or removed, and that the bike cannot be lifted over the top of the object to which it is locked.
  • Lock up your bicycle in a visible, well-lit area.
  • Consider using a U-lock and position the bike frame and wheels so that they take up as much of the open space within the U-portion of the lock as possible. The tighter the lock-up, the harder it is for a thief to use tools to attack the lock. Always position a U-lock so that the keyway is facing down towards the ground. Do not position the lock close to the ground as this makes it easier for a thief to break it.
  • Do not lock up your bicycle in the same location all the time. A thief may notice the pattern and target you.
  • Consider registering your bike with the National Bike Registry.

It is even more important to keep yourself and your family safe while you are riding. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests that cyclists follow these seven rules:

  1. Protect Your Head. Never ride a bike without a properly fitted helmet.
  2. Assure Bicycle Readiness. Ride a bike that fits you and check all parts of the bicycle to make sure they are secure and working well.
  3. Learn and Follow the Rules of the Road. Bicycles are considered vehicles on the road; therefore riders must follow the same traffic laws as drivers of motor vehicles.
  4. Act Like a Driver of a Motor Vehicle. Always ride with the flow of traffic, on the right side of the road, and as far to the right of the road as is practicable and safe.
  5. Be Visible. Always assume you are not seen by others and take responsibility for making yourself visible to motorists, pedestrians and other cyclists.
  6. “Drive with Care.” When you ride, consider yourself the driver of a vehicle and always keep safety in mind. Ride in the bike lane, if available. Take extra care when riding on a roadway. Courtesy and predictability are key to safe cycling.
  7. Stay Focused. Stay Alert. Never wear headphones as they hinder your ability to hear traffic. Be aware of your surroundings and ride defensively.

moving
From our friends at Trusted Choice

May is National Moving Month and every year more than 40 million Americans will move, according to the American Moving and Storage Association. As you pack up your belongings and move across town or across the country, make sure you don’t forget to “pack” your insurance coverage.

Home Sweet (New) Home

When you move from an apartment to a house or house to house or apartment to apartment or condo to… well, you get the idea… your homeowners or renters insurance won’t follow on its own. Because a homeowners or renters insurance policy takes into account factors such as the building material used to construct your home, fire prevention systems like smoke detectors, sprinklers, etc., moving to a new home means that these factors could very well change, and as your risk changes, so should your insurance.

Depending on whether your move is across the street or across the country it’s important that you discuss your move with one of our Baldwin / Welsh & Parker Trusted Choice ® Independent Insurance Agents.

Is my stuff covered during the move?

Let’s say that you’ve got everything but the kitchen sink (which you’ve left for the people moving into your old home) packed into the truck for the big move, but there’s an accident with the truck and as a result antiques, carefully packed china and the 60” flat screen are all damaged beyond repair. Are you covered?

Well, that depends on whether you’re moving the items yourself or have contracted with professional movers and where you’re moving to. If you use a professional moving company, under federal law interstate movers are liable for the replacement value of lost or damaged items, so if you’re moving from North Dakota to North Carolina the moving company is liable for your belongings. However, they may present you with different options for coverage, including Full Value or Released Value. According to the US Department of Transportation, Full Value is more comprehensive coverage but it may cost more out of pocket, whereas Released Value is offered at no additional cost, but may only cover your belongings up to 60 cents on the dollar. If you opt for the Full Value, make sure you have an up-to-date estimated value for the belongings you’ll be moving. If you have an accurate and comprehensive home inventory, this shouldn’t be too difficult of a task.

If you’re renting a truck or a van for the move, the rental company may offer you some coverage. One argument for taking the coverage is that if something does go wrong and can be covered by the rental policy, a loss would not reflect on your own insurance coverage, but again, the coverage they offer may not be enough to replace or repair damaged or lost items. Talk to our agents about how your existing coverage would respond to a loss.

Mind the Gap

You have coverage for the contents of your home under a standard homeowners or renter’s insurance policy, so the best option to protect those contents (and a Trusted Choice agent can help with this) is to make sure that there is no gap of time between the expiration or cancellation of your policy on the home you’re moving out of and the effective start date for the policy for the home you’re moving into- one way to do this is to have the new policy start the day you are planning on moving. Not only would this help provide coverage for your contents, but it would also provide you with personal liability coverage during the time of the move.

Because our agents have the ability to work with multiple insurance companies, we can work to help you find the coverage that’s right for your new place and for getting you and your belongings there.  

Wednesday, 31 May 2017 15:18

Insurance Checklist for Your Move

5 Important Insurance Tips When Moving

  1. Upon Signing the Purchase and Sale Agreement: Contact Baldwin/W&P for an insurance quote. Be ready with:  your new home’s address, square footage, year built, and years of updates to wiring, plumbing, heating, and the roof. 
  2. Decide on Coverage: Your experienced agent will help you make decisions about your insurance needs (including special coverage for jewelry, earthquake, and flood), and provide you with a detailed proposal.
  3. Closing: Provide your agent with the mortgage bank’s closing attorney or mortgage broker’s contact information. Your agent will prepare the insurance documentation and provide it to the bank’s attorney for review prior to closing.
  4. Cancel Previous Insurance: If your former home is not yet sold at the time of relocation, discuss with your prior insurer how vacancy may affect your coverage.
  5. Moving: Check with your mover to make sure that you have coverage for personal belongings in transit.
Friday, 26 May 2017 15:30

Summer Grilling Fun

From our Trusted Choice Friends
 

Your Grill Should Cook, Not Burn…

The barn. Or the house. Or a child.

Every year, what should be a fun outdoor occasion for family and friends instead turns into tragedy at nearly 9,000 homes, causing deaths, injuries and tens of millions in property damage. Your Baldwin / Welsh & Parker Trusted Choice® independent insurance agent remind you that fire damage and potential liability for injury to friends will be covered by your homeowners policy, but we’d much rather you sidle up to the picnic table than hunker down in the emergency room.

Gas grills represent the greatest risk by far, and are involved in more than 80% of all grilling fires. But all types of grills represent a danger if used incorrectly or carelessly. A few simple precautions, courtesy of the experts at the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), may make the difference:

For all grills:

• Propane and charcoal barbecue grills should only be used outdoors.
• The grill should be placed well away from the home and deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
• Keep children and pets away from the grill area.
• Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.
• Never leave your grill unattended.

For charcoal grills:

• If you use a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Once the fire is started, never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquid to it.
• Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.
• Electric charcoal starters that do not use fire are available. Be sure to use an extension cord for outdoor use.
• When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.

For propane grills: 


• Check the gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose. A propane leak will release bubbles. 
• If you detect a gas leak from your grill, by smell or the soapy bubble test, and there is no flame, turn off the gas tank and grill. If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again. If the leak does not stop, call the fire department.
• If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not move the grill.

Almost one-third of gas grill injuries occur during the lighting or relighting of the fire. One significant hazard of propane grills occurs if the flame goes out during the cooking process. Too many grill owners have never read the manual to see there is a critical procedure that must be followed when relighting, or risk a dangerous explosion. ESPN’s Hannah Storm was a victim of just such an accident, and her courageous video recounting her accident and recovery is well worth viewing on the National Fire Protection Association's website.

 pool safty family and friends

Many Americans retreat to swimming pools throughout the summer to escape the blistering heat. For some, a pool party complete with drinks, grilled food, and music is an essential part of a perfect summer day. While swimming pools are great for bringing family and friends together, there are risks and pool safety concerns home owners should consider.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly ten people drown each day in the United States and there are over 3,000 unintentional drowning deaths, unrelated to boating, every year. While swimming in a residential pool is relaxing and great for physical exercise, it does present dangers that home owners should prepare for—especially when children are present. In fact, the Red Cross states that about 200 children drown in residential swimming pools annually. Vigilance and certain safety precautions can greatly reduce accidental injuries and swimming-related deaths.

Invest in Adequate Fencing and Gates

According to MSN Real Estate, it is extremely important for home owners to have locking gates and fencing surrounding a pool. Privacy fencing at least six feet high greatly reduces the chances that an uninvited person will enter a backyard to swim. In addition to regular privacy fencing, there are specially made fences with childproof locks that can enclose the immediate pool area. The Red Cross recommends using a four-foot high fence that has self-latching and self-closing gates to keep children and pets away from the water.

Provide Swimming Lessons and/or CPR Training for Members of Your Household

If you reside in a home with a pool, every member of your household should know how to swim and understand basic CPR methods in case a swimmer or guest needs resuscitation. Furthermore, young children should be enrolled in swimming classes that are age- and skill-level appropriate so that they can learn basic swimming techniques to help prevent fear of water and promote better responses to pool-related accidents. The Red Cross and the National Swimming Pool Foundation offer an online course that teaches pool safety tips and training for accident prevention.

Beware of Faulty Drains

A potential danger to adults and children alike is faulty drains that produce too much suction where clothing, hair, and limbs can become trapped at the bottom of a pool or spa. Faulty drain issues resulted in federal mandates and consumer advocacy education regarding this danger, especially after the death of a young girl, Virginia Graeme Baker, in 2002. The Consumer Product Safety Commission launched a public awareness campaign to help prevent faulty draining mechanisms from claiming more lives.

Precautionary measures recommended by the Consumer Product Safety Commission include ensuring that spa and pool drain covers are compliant with the latest safety codes and installing Safety Vacuum Release Systems, which automatically stop a pool pump if blockage in the drain is detected. Additionally, home owners should have easy, quick access to pump switches so they can be rapidly shut down if necessary. If a swimmer is trapped by the suction of a drain, avoid pulling the person out of the drain. Instead, break the seal by inserting a small object or several fingers between the swimmer and the drain or grate.

Arm Your Pool with an Alarm System

Like homes, pools can be armed with alarm systems. For example, Leslie's Swimming Pool Supplies, a company with stores throughout the United States, offers in-ground pool alarms that can sense entry into a pool by an animal or person weighing over 18 pounds. Using negative displacement technology, this type of pool alarm is submerged and can be activated by a remote control device. When its sensor detects in-water movement, an alarm will sound inside the home as well as in the pool to alert home owners. In addition to sounding a noticeable alarm, this safety device will also sound off when removed from the pool in its armed state. Other alternatives to pool alarms that can help notify home owners of unwanted pool activity are motion-sensor lighting and security systems for doors and windows that limit access from the home to the pool area.

Practicing pool safety and receiving proper training in responding to swimming-related accidents or injuries can offer home owners more peace of mind when it comes to protecting loved ones and friends. For more safety tips, talk with a Baldwin / Welsh & Parker Trusted Choice® independent insurance agent. We can help you protect your home and its occupants with valuable information and insurance coverage.

prom night statistics

From our Plymouth Rock partners

Prom season is here! From early May through mid-June, high-schoolers dress to the nines for a night on the town. Everyone (parents and teens) wants to have a safe and happy prom season. With so much happening on prom night it can be easy for them to get distracted. Take some time before the prom to talk to your teen about being safe behind the wheel. With so much happening on prom night it can be easy for them to get distracted. Take some time before the prom to talk to your teen about being safe behind the wheel.

Here are 5 prom season pitfalls, and an action plan to avoid them:

Alcohol: Cars and alcohol are a deadly combination. One problem is that many teens view drinking as a normal part of the prom and graduation celebration. A study of 12,000 students by the Statistic Brain Institute, found that 53% of prom-goers admitted to having more than four drinks on prom night. That means more than half were legally drunk (or worse). As educators and parents, we cannot condone this behavior and it’s imperative that we do not facilitate underage drinking. On the other hand, if we deny that underage drinking happens, the results can be catastrophic.

Seat belts: According to National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, more than half of 16-20 year olds killed in car crashes were not wearing seat belts.

Distractions: For many students, prom night is the highlight of the year. This youthful exuberance amounts to emotional driving. Text messages, Snapchat, loud music and a stunning companion all contribute to the chaos, and combine to take the young driver’s mind OFF what they are doing.

Drowsiness: After-parties + prom weekend trips = little or no sleep. Did you know? Drowsy Driving is one of the top causes of distracted driving crashes, according to the National Safety Council. A five-year study by NHTSA shows that drowsy driving accounts for an average of 2.5% of the fatalities on our roadways each year. (Between 832 – 1194 deaths annually, over the 5 year period.)

Bad Driving: Let’s face it, most of these kids have been driving less than 2 years, and the majority of them haven’t learned to drive properly anyway, so they are still learning on the job. Add to that a car full of kids (if they’re 18, they are no longer probationary drivers) and it adds up to trouble.

Here is a five-step plan to help your family have a safe prom season:

  1. Always make an ironclad agreement with your teenager that they are never to get behind the wheel, or get into a vehicle with a driver who has been drinking (one is too many), using drugs or tired (minimum of 6 hours of sleep before driving). Your child needs to know that they can call you at any time — day or night — and get picked up, if they, or their designated driver, have become impaired.
  2. Listen carefully to their plans, especially their travel plans. Are they allowing enough time for everyone to recover from the prom night festivities? Alcohol-free prom and graduation nights have been a huge help in reducing drunk driving tragedies. One problem is that the kids stay awake all night and, in many cases, are allowed to drive home drowsy the next morning!
  3. Involve yourself in their planning — they may object, but someone has to be the adult. Who will they be with? Do you know the other kids and their families? Who is driving? Are they still a probationary driver? Insist that there must be one alternate (well-rested) driver included. Where will they be staying? How many kids to a room?
  4. Volunteer to be their chauffeur for the weekend. They’ll probably refuse, but it’s worth a try.
  5. Expect them to follow rules you set. This goes for prom, graduation and summertime driving. These are great times in our kids’ lives, but don’t allow your young driver to take a “mental vacation” from their safe driving habits.

Stay Safe Out There!

#prom, #staysafe

Vacation Home? Income Property? Here’s How to Cover It.

There are many reasons you might want to rent out your home on either a short- or long-term basis. Depending on the rental scenario, your standard homeowners policy may not cover losses incurred while your home is rented out, and you may require a more specialized insurance policy. So, whether you own a second home that you lease to tenants, want to rent out a spare bedroom in your house periodically through Airbnb, or make a little extra cash renting out your beach cottage the weeks you’re not using it, the first step should be to call your insurance professional. 

 

Short-Term Rentals/Primary Residence

If you are planning to rent out all or part of your primary residence for a short period of time, for instance, a week or several weekends, there will likely be two insurance scenarios.

  1. Some insurance companies may allow a homeowners or renters policyholder  a short-term rental—assuming they have notified the company. Other insurers will require an endorsement (or rider) to the existing insurance policy in order to provide insurance coverage. 
  2. If you plan to rent out your primary residence for short periods on a regular basis, to various “guests.” this would constitute a business. Standard homeowners insurance policies do not provide any coverage for business activities conducted in the home. To be properly covered you would need to purchase a business policy—specifically either a hotel or a bed and breakfast policy.

 

Long-Term Rentals/Second Home

If you are planning to lease your home to one person or a couple or family for a longer period of time, say six months or a year, you will likely need a landlord or rental dwelling policy. Landlord policies generally cost about 25 percent more than a standard homeowners policy to pay for increased protections. If you are regularly renting out a vacation home or investment property, this would also require a landlord or rental dwelling policy.  

Landlord policies provide property insurance coverage for physical damage to the structure of the home caused by fire, lightning, wind, hail, ice, snow or other covered perils. It also offers coverage for any personal property you may leave on-site for maintenance or tenant use, like appliances, lawnmowers, and snow blowers.

The policy can also include liability coverage; if a tenant or one of their guests gets hurt on the property, it would cover legal fees and medical expenses.

Most landlord policies provide coverage for loss of rental income in the event you are not able to rent out the property while it is being repaired or rebuilt due to damage from a covered loss. This coverage is generally provided for a specific period of time.

 

Renters Insurance

As the landlord, your coverage is only on the structure itself and your financial interest in it. Your tenant’s personal possessions are not covered under your policy. In order to avoid disputes arising from damage to the renter’s belongings, many landlords require a tenant to buy renters insurance before signing a lease.

 

Source: Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.)

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