NEWS FROM THE BLOG
Posts By: Dezray
Actually free, no strings attached? If you refer someone to our agency for an insurance quote (home, auto, life, business) we’ll send you a $10 gift card…no strings attached. Refer us to your friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers. If they tell us you referred them when they get a quote, you get a $10 gift card. Who doesn’t love gift cards and extra money this time of year?
BY KATE GIBSONNOVEMBER 27, 2017
People who have purchased a Christmas tree from a store or lot know that getting it home isn’t always easy.
But not planning ahead or taking the time to securely store the tree on top or inside a vehicle can be costly and dangerous, according to the AAA. The motor and travel organization is out with a survey that estimates 20 million Americans did not secure their trees properly to their vehicles in the last three years.
The unhappy holiday scenario can damage your car by scratching the paint, tearing door seals and distorting window frames, costing up to $1,500 in repairs, the AAA said in a release.
Worse, road debris, which includes objects like Christmas trees flying off of cars, is responsible for more than 200,000 crashes that led to 39,000 injuries and 500 deaths over the last four years, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. And, about two-thirds of debris-related crashes involve improperly secured items falling from a vehicle.
Here are tips from the AAA on safely transporting your tree:
- Use the right vehicle. Use a vehicle with a roof rack. If you don’t have a roof rack, use the bed of a pickup, an SUV, van or minivan that can fit the tree inside with all doors closed.
- Use quality tie downs. Bring strong rope or nylon ratchet straps to secure the tree to your vehicle’s roof rack. Avoid the lightweight twine offered by many tree lots.
- Protect the tree. Have the tree wrapped in netting before loading it. If netting is not available, secure loose branches with rope or twine.
- Protect your vehicle. Use an old blanket to prevent paint scratches and protect the vehicle finish.
- Point the trunk towards the front. Always place the tree on a roof rack or in a pickup bed with the bottom of the trunk facing the front of the vehicle.
- Tie it down. Secure the tree at its bottom, center, and top. At the bottom, use fixed vehicle tie-down points and loop around the trunk above a lower branch, to prevent any side-to-side or front-to-rear movement. The center and top tie downs should be installed in a similar manner.
- Give it the tug test. Before you leave the lot, give the tree several strong tugs from various directions to make sure it is secured in place and will not blow away.
- Drive slowly and easily. Take the back roads, if possible. Higher speeds create significant airflow that can damage your tree and challenge even the best tie-down methods.
“Twine that is wrapped around trees and looped through door jambs or open windows can cause serious damage to door seals and window frames,” said Greg Brannon, director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations. “Drivers should never secure a Christmas tree to the top of a vehicle without a roof rack.”
by Alex Buczynski on
One morning, I was driving along a back road to one of my college classes when a deer suddenly jumped directly into my path. By a sheer miracle, the deer, my car and I all escaped without injury. (Although I did pull off the road to calm my nerves.)
Not everyone is lucky enough to avoid a collision. The Insurance Information Institute (III) estimates that there are around 1.25 million deer-vehicle collisions each year.
Before you get too concerned, here are some helpful tips on how to avoid deer-vehicle collisions and how to handle hitting a deer.
What are the odds?
Hitting a deer is most likely to occur around sunrise and sunset. This is when deer are the most active—and that’s especially true during the final few months of the year.
Drivers in northeastern states also have a higher risk of hitting a deer due to exploding deer populations. To give you an idea, drivers in West Virginia have a 1 in 41 chance of hitting a deer. Other high-risk states include Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina and South Carolina, to name a few.
How to avoid hitting a deer
Nobody wants to end up with a crushed fender or a broken windshield. You can decrease your chances of hitting a deer by following these tips:
- Slow down during dawn and dusk hours. Driving slower will give you extra time to react to deer (or other animals) that dart into the road.
- Pay attention to warning signs. Deer-populated areas are normally marked with a sign. Look out for them, especially during the fall and winter months.
- Use high beams (if possible). Using your high beams at night will illuminate the road and help you spot deer.
- Wear your seat belt. If you do hit a deer, wearing a seat belt decreases your chances of injury.
How to handle hitting a deer
Taking the above precautions can help you avoid hitting a deer. Yet they don’t entirely rule out the possibility of having a run-in with a deer.
If a deer does dash in front of your vehicle, don’t swerve in an attempt to avoid it. Swerving often does more harm than good since you could hit a tree or an oncoming vehicle.
If there’s no way around the deer, maintain your current speed or try to slow down. Never speed up. This can cause the deer to hit your vehicle with more force, which will only cause more damage.
Pull over as soon as it’s safe. Be cautious when examining your vehicle—injured deer can still lash out and hurt someone.
It’s best to call the police and get a police report for evidence when you make an insurance claim. If you can’t make a call, take photos if possible.
Finally, in instances in which the deer is dead, you can often request to keep the carcass for meat. (Deer burgers anyone?)
Don’t let deer get you down. Deer-vehicle collisions are covered under the optional comprehensive portion of your auto insurance. Talk with an insurance professional like an Erie Insurance agent to make sure you have the right coverage for your car.
by Erie Insurance
You probably already have a child safety seat for your car, so now it’s time to make sure baby is safe at home too. Without a doubt, your little bundle of joy is probably making you consider a home makeover. When your baby starts to explore, you’ll want to be ready.
Whether its the kitchen, the living room or the baby’s nursery, there’s work to be done to keep the littlest member of your house safe. Let’s get started.
Hot ovens and sharp tools are two good reasons to child-proof your kitchen. After all, while you’re focusing on preparing meals, you may be joined by a little one who has far more curiosity than safety smarts.
Unless you can respond with guaranteed ninja speed to the click of an opened cabinet, it’s a good idea to baby-proof your kitchen. Here’s how.
- Reorganize: Move detergents, sharp kitchen tools and small objects that are stored in baby-level cabinets and drawers to a higher place well beyond baby’s reach. Do the same with heavy, breakable ceramic and glass cookware.
- Install latches: Little latches will keep small hands out of drawers and cabinets that could contain dangerous knives and more.
- Safety-proof appliances: A small child can easily open a dishwasher, oven or refrigerator, so consider installing safety latches on these doors as well. The control knobs for your stove top can be easily reached, too, but knob covers will make them much more difficult for small hands to maneuver. Finally, check the anti-tip bracket on your refrigerator and stove. These brackets are usually installed right into the floor with an option to slide out the appliance when you clean. Using brackets can protect both children and pets if either manage to climb onto an open oven door. Anti-tip brackets can also come in handy when you’re cooking something heavy like a Thanksgiving turkey.
- Reconsider easily grabbed items: When it comes to countertop appliances like blenders, food processors and rice cookers, be aware of where the cord is at all times so it doesn’t end up in the grasp of little hands that can pull it down. Also consider forgoing a table cloth—it can be easily pulled off a table, along with anything else that happens to be resting on it.
- Corral and contain: Depending on the layout of your kitchen, you may consider placing baby gates that create a safe play area in your kitchen while you cook. If you can’t do that, the high chair is always a good option.
THE LIVING ROOM
The living room is a place where your family can kick back, relax and make memories. With a few upgrades and adjustments, it can also be a safer place for your tiny tot to play and explore. Here are some key areas you’ll want to consider when it comes time to baby-proof your living room.
- Electrical outlets: If nothing is plugged into an outlet, it’s a good idea to install plastic covers in outlets to help keep your baby from inserting fingers or objects into the sockets.
- Corners and edges: Falls and collisions with tables and other furniture can get serious when baby takes her first, bowlegged steps—and later progresses to a full sprint. For that reason, it’s a good idea to invest in furniture that doesn’t have sharp edges.
- Cabinets: Keep liquor, breakable objects and electronics out of reach with cabinet door locks.
- Furniture: Babies and toddlers love to pull themselves up on furniture. First identify which pieces can be tipped—end tables, bookshelves, entertainment centers and desks are common culprits. Then make sure those unstable pieces are securely mounted to the wall. Don’t overlook television sets.
- Chairs and sofas: Make sure these pieces are positioned well away from windows in case baby takes a spill.
- Knickknacks: Small objects that can fit inside baby’s mouth and other breakable tchotchkes should be kept well beyond the reach of little hands.
- Cords: Tuck away loose cords and cables so they can’t be used to pull down lamps and other electronics.
- Purses and bags: Keep these safely stowed away, especially when guests come over. This can help prevent your baby from accessing small objects that will go directly into the mouth, such as coins, hard candy and medication.
- Plants: The leaves of some household plants can be poisonous when ingested. Besides that, small children just can’t resist a pot filled with cool, black dirt. For that reason, it’s best to keep your house plant-free for a few years.
- Door knobs: Some babies and toddlers discover all too soon they can open the door — and bolt right outside. Thwart a would-be escape artist by keeping all exits of your home locked and secure.
The walls are painted and stenciled, the pictures are hung, the crib is set up, the mobile is installed and the changing table is fully stocked with neatly folded stacks of receiving blankets and diapers.
While it’s hard to imagine a world in which your baby is able to get into mischief, babies grow up fast. Before you know it, they’ll be on the move in a matter of months. By baby-proofing the nursery now, your child will have a safe environment she can grow into. Here are five areas you’ll want to devote some attention to.
- Cabinets and drawers: Babies can’t resist opening and closing a cabinet door or tugging on a dresser drawer, digging out whatever is stored inside. Locks will keep baby out and prevent pinched fingers, too.
- Furniture: Position furniture away from the crib should baby attempt an escape. When baby inevitably climbs or pulls on bookshelves, a changing table or a dresser, have wall anchors in place to prevent tipping.
- Changing table: It’s weird, but even infants too young to roll can achieve feats of mobility—especially when you are trying to dislodge a baby wipe that’s somehow jammed in a container. Choose a changing table with raised sides; for extra protection, always use the safety strap.
- Flooring: Some daredevil babies learn at an early age to escape from their cribs. Install soft carpeting or a throw rug to help cushion against these and any other falls.
- Cribs: Before baby is old enough to sit up or pull herself up on her own, remove mobiles or wall hangings, along with any other objects within reach.
Even a hallway needs modifications so that it’s safe for your baby—and the rest of your family. After all, slips and trips are a definite danger when parents are waking up multiple times in the night. Here are the areas you’ll want to focus on to help ensure a safe passage.
- Steps: Whether you’re busy around the house or baby is safe (you think) in the crib, it’s a good idea to set up a baby gate at the top and the bottom of the staircase. Also add anti-slip strips to uncarpeted stairs.
- Lighting: Night lights are essential when you have kids—especially if you have baby gates installed in the hallway or bedroom doorways. When you’re stumbling around in the dark to check on your waking young child, you just might forget about the baby gate you’ve set up. Keeping halls lit makes everything from a toddler’s nighttime expeditions to a bigger kid’s adventures with potty training safer.
- Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors: The National Fire Protection Association recommends that each bedroom and each floor of your home have a smoke detector. That means a three-level, three-bedroom house should have six detectors. Carbon monoxide can be a silent and deadly killer. That’s because it doesn’t take long for a malfunctioning furnace or water heater to quietly fill a house with this odorless gas. Install a carbon monoxide detector on each floor of the house where someone sleeps. Also install one next to every major appliance that uses natural gas. For both of these devices, test the batteries once a month.
- Rugs: Throw rugs will skid out from under little running feet. That is especially true when little feet are dashing around stairs and corners. Rubber backing or a rug pad can hold them in place.
- Windows: Shorten the long cords attached to window blinds or curtains to help prevent entanglements.
- Furniture: Anything that can tip when your little monkey attempts to climb it will need to be anchored to the wall. Get door latches and locks for drawers and cabinets. Tuck away cords attached to lamps so they can’t be pulled, and keep small and breakable objects out of reach.
Baby-proofing your home isn’t one of the more fun aspects of being a new parent. But it’s a relatively small investment of time that pays big dividends when it comes to your family’s safety.
They are a match made in country music heaven—Nashville, where they met working in the industry and then bonded over their love of making music. Their love has grown over the past 23 years, and life insurance has been an important part of their life together. As Kelley
grew her new career in real estate and Doak focused on raising their daughter, Emma, they knew they needed the financial safety net that life insurance offered.
Tragedy struck, however, when Kelley—the family’s main breadwinner—found out she had a drug-resistant type of Parkinson’s disease. It has slowly robbed her of her ability to work, and now even to care for herself. Fortunately, their insurance professional Wallene Leek had made sure that Kelley not only increased her life insurance over time, but that it had living benefits as well.
Kelley’s term life insurance policies have a disability waiver of premium, which means she never has to pay another premium. And because her diagnosis is terminal, the family is able to access a percentage of the death benefit now. That has meant the world to the Sneads.
The family has been able to stay in their home, instead of selling it, and Emma has been able to complete school. What’s more, Kelley and Doak are able to spend what time they have left without the crushing burden of financial worry. “Kelley’s disease may have taken away her livelihood, but life insurance has saved our lives at this point,” says Doak.
Is homeowners insurance enough, or do you need Flood Insurance too?
While you likely have homeowners insurance, in the case of flood, that is unfortunately not enough. This is because flood damage is not covered by standard homeowners insurance, requiring a separate Flood Insurance Policy.
But what is flood insurance, and what does it cover?
What is Flood Insurance?
Flood insurance is specialty coverage available through the Federal National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). This coverage is made available to assist homeowners in the event of flooding from rising bodies of water such as lakes, rivers, streams, and oceans and in cases where existing flood controls such as levies fail. Available flood insurance coverage is managed and administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
This coverage is available in two parts:
• A policy that covers property damage (your home) up to a set coverage limit (usually $ 250,000).
• A policy that covers personal property (your furniture and contents) up to a set coverage limit (usually $ 100,000).
Homeowners can purchase one or both of these policies.
What does Flood Insurance cover?
Since Flood Insurance is made available in two parts, each policy covers different things. While not an exhaustive list, here are some common things covered by each policy in the event of flood damage:
Home / Property Coverage: This policy covers the physical structure of your home as well as its foundation, plumbing, electrical, central air and heat, cabinets, kitchen appliances such as your fridge and dishwasher, and wall finishes such as drywall, plaster, or paneling.
Contents / Personal Property Coverage: This policy will cover replacement of content such as furniture, clothing, electronics, portable appliances, food, etc.
In the case of a primary residence, Flood Insurance will cover the replacement cost of necessary repairs to the property, while vacation properties and secondary residences are covered based upon the depreciated actual cash value of the repairs necessary. For more, please see Actual Cash Value (ACV) or Replacement Cost – What’s the difference?
What does Flood Insurance NOT cover?
Landscaping: As the flood insurance policies are specific to coverage for damage to your home and to your contents, damage to exterior landscaping (including trees and shrubbery), as well as fences and retaining walls, are not covered under your flood insurance policy.
Cash and Some Valuables: In addition, valuables that may have been damaged or lost, such as cash, stock certificates, bearer bonds, etc. are not covered under flood insurance coverage. Some high value items, such as expensive artwork or jewelry may have limited or capped coverage available.
Decks, Patios, and Basements: While considered part of the structure of a home to most of us, for the sake of flood insurance, they are not. There is unfortunately no coverage available under your flood insurance policy for decks and patios that may have been damaged as part of the flood. Basements meanwhile have very limited coverage, the extent of which is determined by whether the floor is below ground level. Though coverage is generally available for your furnace, often homeowners find that most of the repairs necessary in their basements are not covered. This is particularly true of basements that are below ground level. Basements that are above ground level meanwhile, may have limited coverage available for wall or ceiling repairs. Floor coverings such as carpet and vinyl, as well as contents and storage located in the basement are generally also not covered.
Living Expenses: Unfortunately, living expenses such as temporary housing or hotel stays, even though your home may not be livable, are not available under your flood insurance coverage.
Is there a deductible?
Flood insurance policies do include a deductible, which would be the homeowners responsibility. As coverage for your home and your contents are separated into two separate policies, the deductible is applied towards the available coverage for both. The minimum deductible amount is currently $ 1,000, while the maximum is $ 10,000. While a higher deductible will lower your annual premium cost, it will significantly increase your out of pocket cost in the event flooding does occur, so always choose a deductible that you would be able to comfortably afford.
Do I need Flood Insurance?
If your home is in a flood zone, near bodies of water such as streams, rivers, lakes, or oceans, or has flooded in the past, flood insurance is highly recommended. Not only does this protect your investment in the event that flooding occurs, but it creates peace of mind that is not available through a standard homeowners insurance policy.
Mortgage holders also require that homes for which they have an interest maintain flood insurance when deemed appropriate or necessary (such as properties near bodies of water or that are located in flood zones).
Where do I get Flood Insurance?
Flood Insurance is available through most local insurance agents, and can be purchased at the same time you purchase or renew your homeowners insurance policy.
“We’re Here for You” ®
by Abby Badach on
Cruising with the windows down is one of summer’s greatest simple pleasures. But if you’ve got kiddos in the back seat, don’t forget to stay alert when you roll them back up.
Power windows can cause injury if little fingers, hands or limbs are in the way. Injuries can be more serious – or even fatal – if the window closes on a child’s head or neck. A 2007 study estimated that 2,000 people each year are treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries from power windows, and half of those are children.
As a parent, here are 4 things you should know:
- Power windows can exert an upward force of 30-80 pounds.
For context, it takes just 22 pounds of force to injure or suffocate an infant, according to kidsandcars.org. What’s more, the force needed to push a button to roll up a power window is a mere two pounds.
- Some window switches are safer than others.
Newer cars will have the safest type – “lever” style, which have to be pulled up to raise a car window. They are mounted vertically and harder to activate by accident. (In 2006, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration made these mandatory for all U.S.-manufactured vehicles.)
If you have an older car (pre-2006), watch out for these styles mounted horizontally on the door’s armrest – they’re easier for children (or you!) to hit by mistake:
- Rocker switches are rectangular and move the glass up when you press one short end and down when you press the other.
- Toggle switches move the window when pushed forward or pulled back.
- Look before you close
Before you roll up your windows, make sure the path is clear. Many injuries happen, unfortunately, when adults simply forget to check on kids in the backseat first.
- A little prevention goes a long way.
First things first: If your car has a backseat window lock, use it!
Also, talk to your kids. Teach them never to play with window switches, stand on passenger door arm rests, or stick their heads out of a car window.
Finally, if you’re not in the driver’s seat, make sure to take the keys out when you leave. Leaving the ignition in the “on” or “accessory” position leaves the power window switches activated.