Nightmare on Elm Street

Halloween SafetyWhat do you get when you take hundreds of pedestrians trick-or-treating and add potentially impaired party-goers behind the wheel? A scary combination, that’s what.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Halloween is consistently one of the top three days for pedestrian injuries and fatalities. What’s more, 48 percent of all motor vehicle crash fatalities on Halloween night in 2012 involved a drunk driver.

Here are some Halloween safety tips to help you avoid a nightmare on Elm Street:

BEHIND THE WHEEL

  • Slow down! Drive at least 5 mph under the speed limit, especially in residential areas. This will give you extra time to react to children who might dart into the street.
  • Light it up. Turn on your headlights — even in the daytime — to make yourself more visible.
  • Drive sober. Designated drivers are cool. If you’ll be imbibing of some witch’s brew, get yourself a DD.

PARENTS

  • Tackle it together. Make sure all trick-or-treaters up to the age of 12 (at least) are accompanied by an adult.
  • Have a plan. Review safety precautions and discuss the route you’ll take ahead of time. Remind kids never to cross the street mid-block or between cars. Go over pedestrian and traffic safety rules with your children.
  • Save it for later. Have the little ones wait to eat those treats until you’ve had a chance to go through them to make sure everything is ok. It’s sad that this precaution is necessary, but it’s also reality of the world we live in.

For more Halloween Safety Tips, visit the AAA website. And from all of us at Mason & Mason, have a safe and Happy Halloween!

No Shave November (for Jennifer Mimms)

No Shave November

Sometimes you hear a story and it just touches your heart.  That’s what happened when I learned that Jennifer Mimms had a tumor growing in her spine, which turned out to be lymphoma. And she has three young children. I mean… can you imagine?

Actually, I can. Five years ago (to this week) doctors found a tumor encased in my husband’s spinal column – just like Jennifer. The diagnosis was lymphoma - just like Jennifer. We had (have) three children – just like Jennifer.

I remember feeling overwhelmed, first by the circumstances, and then by the way our friends and family — our community — surrounded us with love and prayer, and financial support at a time when our family desperately needed it. We could not have gotten through that difficult ordeal without all of you.

When I learned what my son-in-love’s sister Jennifer was dealing with, I wanted to make sure she and her family received the same kind of support we did. And so the Mason & Mason “No Shave November (for Jennifer)” event was born. The rules are very simple, and there are so many ways you can help.

1. Join the “No Shave November (for Jennifer Mimms)” Community on Facebook.

2. Donate $10 (or more) to support Jennifer Mimms and her family (mail to PO Box 750, North Conway, NH 03845 – Attention: Heather Clement)

2. DO NOT SHAVE.

3. Invite your friends to get in on the action by telling them about the event and sending them the links.

4. Post your pics in the community facebook page.

 

It’s that easy. Won’t you join us in helping this family? SHAVE THE DATE!
Jennifer Mimms No Shave NovemberAbout Jennifer Mimms:

Jennifer Mimms is a young mom of three awesome kids who are her entire life, along with her long time partner, Evan. Not too long ago Jenn started having some symptoms that made her visit her doctor. Shortly after her visit she received the shocking news that she had a tumor on her spine. After the removal of the tumor and more testing, she learned that she does in fact have cancer, a form of Lymphoma. Jenn still has a lot more tests ahead of her to figure out exactly what is wrong and where the cancer is coming from. As if life isn’t tough enough trying to raise three children in the world today, add in a medical problem this serious and it could be enough to sink a young family. Your generous donations willgo towards the basic needs of the family, such as bills, groceries and gas to get to and from treatments. Jenn is currently in the hospital for chemo treatments, five days per week.

Just Keep Swimming…

poolpoolswimming poolBut check your insurance first!

Summertime fun often includes swimming in the pool. Whether you already have a pool in your backyard or are thinking about putting one in this year, consider whether your home insurance will cover your swimming pool (or how you might have it adjusted so that it does!)

Personal Liability Coverage

If someone is injured while swimming in your pool, the personal liability coverage on your homeowners insurance policy will pay for it. Update this coverage amount when you install your pool to ensure it’s sufficient.

Related Structure Coverage

Your insurance company may classify your new in-ground pool as a related structure, similar to a storage shed or detached garage. Increase the related structure coverage on your homeowners insurance policy to cover damage to your pool. Keep in mind that this coverage won’t pay for swimming pool maintenance.

Geography Matters

The majority of backyard pools are found in warm climates. Based on this fact, insurance costs for your pool may be cheaper if you live in the warmer southern states and more expensive if you live in cooler northern states.

Erect a Fence

To prevent accidents in the pool, many insurance companies stipulate that you surround your pool with a fence that includes a self-latching gate. Consider whether or not you have the space and ability to erect a fence before you install a swimming pool.

Consider the Diving Board or Slide

Some insurance companies won’t cover accidents that happen on the diving board or slide. That policy will influence whether or not you install one of those pool accessories.

Consider an Umbrella Policy 

Even if your homeowners insurance policy covers your swimming pool, consider an umbrella policy. It provides extra coverage after your homeowners insurance limits are met. The extra protection gives you peace of mind if you need to file any pool-related claims.

A backyard pool provides hours of fun every summer. Before you install one, though, talk to your insurance agent. Get all the facts about whether your company offers swimming pool coverage and how much it will cost.

And use these safety steps from The Pool Safely campaign to keep your friends and family safe.

Prevent Burglary with these Landscaping Tricks

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, roughly two million burglaries occur each year. Protect your home and family from burglary when you implement five landscaping tricks that don’t compromise your home’s exterior appearance or value.

burglary1. Place Hostile Plants by Entryways
Burglars typically target easily accessible windows and doors. By placing hostile plants loaded with thorns, briars and brambles near these entryways, you discourage potential burglars. Several hostile plants to consider include roses, holly, raspberries, bird’s nest spruces, needle bushes and Spanish bayonet.

2. Trim Shrubbery Near the House
Overgrown shrubs, bushes and flowering plants look untidy, and they give burglars plenty of places to hide. They also prevent neighbors and anyone on the street from seeing suspicious behavior near your home. Protect your home when you keep shrubbery trimmed to lower than three feet tall all along the exterior of your home. Remember to trim plants away from the sides of your home too.

3. Use Noisy Ground Cover
Burglars try to be as quiet as possible, but noisy ground cover around your windows and doors alerts you to their every move. Pea gravel or other crunching stones do the trick, and you can find these burglar deterrents in colors that match your existing landscaping.

4. Install Short Privacy Fencing
Tall fences and tree barriers increase privacy, but they also obscure burglars. Install short fencing with an open design instead. If you already planted trees or shrubs, trim them so that the canopy starts at eight feet or higher off the ground.

5. Turn on the Lights
Most outdoor landscaping includes lighting of some sort. Opt for strategically placed motion-activated lighting to reduce your chances of being burglarized. Place these lights near all your doors and windows and along pathways. They frighten burglars away and warn you when someone walks near your home.

The crew at Mason & Mason encourages you to use the landscaping tricks to help prevent burglary in your home. We’d also love to find you the best homeowners insurance policy to meet your needs.

Alcohol Detection in Cars – Smart Technology?

Automakers and the U.S. Department of Transportation have extended a five-year partnership to develop alcohol detection equipment that can help prevent intoxicated people from driving a vehicle.

This non-invasive system will be able to determine when a driver has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08%, which is the legal limit in all 50 states. The device will be unobtrusive to the driver and is activated with the ignition switch.

Currently, Nissan has developed a new concept car with multiple preventative features against drunk-driving, including a facial monitoring system, odor sensors and analysis of driving behavior.

And then there’s this…

According to National Highway Transportation Agency Administrator David Strickland, “In this age of innovation, smart technology might be the breakthrough we need to prevent drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel and endangering the safety of others on our roads.”

By early 2015, the agency hopes to have a research vehicle that incorporates two technological approaches to measure BAC: touch based and breath based. Research using laboratory-scale prototypes is underway, while testing on-road prototype devices is expected within the next few years.

What do you think of this new technology? Sound off on our facebook page! We’d love to hear how you feel about this.

As always, if you have questions about your auto insurance, we stand ready to help. Just give us a call.

 

Rock my RV!

RV InsuranceSo maybe you’re not Bret Michaels (because honestly… who is?), but you have just bought an RV and can’t wait to get on the road. Will Auto insurance protect your pride and joy, or do you need RV Insurance?

That depends. You might want to get an endorsement to your Auto policy that would provide coverage. However, since your RV means so much more to you than just transportation, it’s best to get specialized insurance that a typical Auto policy won’t cover. Recreational Vehicle insurance combines Auto, Homeowners, Renters, and Travel coverages into a single policy that will also insure generators, water pumps and refrigerators – items that standard Auto or Homeowners policies would not cover.

The amount of coverage will depend on the value of the RV and its contents, as well as your driving record. We can help you determine what amount of RV Insurance is right for you.

Before you hit the open road, call our office for a comprehensive RV Insurance policy on your vehicle so that you can get behind the wheel with peace of mind.

Now go rock that RV!

Home Security Systems – Don’t Be Fooled!

home securityDon’t let negative rumors about home security systems keep you from adding this valuable protection for you and your family. Before you buy a system, consider these myths and realities:

Myth: No one will break into my home.

Reality: Burglars can target any home anywhere, and they’re seeking unprotected targets like yours. In 2011, the FBI reported more than 1.5 million residential burglaries, an average of more than one a minute.

Myth. Security systems cost too much.

Reality: According to the FBI, burglaries cost victims an average of $2,185 in 2011. A security system that costs $50 a month (a mid-range figure for most systems) can provide more than three and a half years of protection for the money and valuables you might lose in a home burglary, not to mention helping ensure your peace of mind.

Myth: My pet will set off false alarms.

Reality: Many home security systems are pet friendly, designed to distinguish between pets and intruder.

Myth: Having a security system won’t lower my insurance rate.

Reality: Because insurance companies can save a ton of money when policyholders use quality alarm systems (which reduce the chances of burglary claims significantly) many offer these customers a sizable discount on homeowners coverage. You can use these savings to offset the cost of your system.

Myth: Because I have insurance, I don’t need a security system.

Reality: Insurance can’t bring back irreplaceable items, such as family heirlooms or other valuables, which a home security system can help protect. What’s more, many people don’t want to deal with filing a claim and receiving an insurance settlement.

For more information on the benefits that alarm systems can provide, feel free to get in touch with us at any time.

That’s Not Me! – Identity Theft

“But he that filches from me my good name/Robs me of that which not enriches him/And makes me poor indeed.” – Shakespeare, Othello, act iii. Sc. 3.

Identity theft is a huge problem in the United States. Did you know that identity thieves stole approximately $21 Billion from victims in 2012? This equates to one incident of fraud every three seconds. That’s scary. In every minute, 20 acts of fraud occur. When you keep adding up the numbers it looks horrific. Most victims don’t know until it’s too late that they have become a victim of identity theft. If you are one of the victims of identity theft, we have listed a few things for you to do:

  • identity theftContact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) whether online or by phone, 877-438-4338.
  • If necessary, send mail certified and request a return receipt.
  • Contact your bank and let them know of the fraud.
  • Contact all of your credit card companies and credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and Trans Union) and inform them of the situation.
  • Contact your insurance companies and make them aware of the theft.
  • Keep a detailed filing system. Keep all your originals, only send copies of originals to requestors.
  • Follow all deadlines. Keep a timeline of when you spoke to a person and set up a follow up date.

Following the above guidelines will help minimize any future thefts. We hope that you never have to use this list.

It’s a Nice Day for a White Wedding

wedding insuranceYour wedding day should be the happiest day of your life. You have been planning this day for most of your life. You and your fiancé wanted to have a white wedding in the mountains. Your lodge is reserved, the caterer is ready with the menu, the disc jockey has your playlist, and you’ve just picked up your pristine gown. Everything is coming together beautifully. Even the weather cooperated — a little more than you were expecting.

A major blizzard hit your venue and there is no way anyone can go anywhere. You have to postpone your big day. The good news is that you purchased wedding insurance before your big day so everything is covered and you can still have your white wedding without paying any additional out of pocket expenses.

Your wedding insurance covers these unforeseeable acts:

  • The venue. If your venue has any unavoidable cancellations from certain acts (such as damage) your wedding insurance will take care of you.
  • Any weather related problems such as inaccessibility, damage to venue, and many others. All the details including rescheduling the ceremony flowers, tent rental and reception food will also be covered.
  • None of your vendors showed up. Any number of reasons why a vendor may not show up and in that case, your insurance will cover it.
  • If you are called for duty or your job sends you off. Wedding insurance will cover the postponement of your wedding.

Give us a call when you are ready to take the plunge. We’ll help make sure your day is a happy one – come what may.

Ya Gotta Treat Her Right!

auto insuranceNot too many people consider their vehicle an investment, but it is. In fact, it could be your most important investment. Your vehicle gets you to and from your employment, and offers a safe and accessible way to travel.

As you know, when it comes to your vehicle? Ya gotta treat her right. You take care of your car. You fill the tank. Diligently, you pay attention to the maintenance schedule for your oil changes and milestone check-ups. Keeping an eye on your tires, parking your car in a garage or a covered parking area, getting your car detailed, and other long term preventive measures — these are all on your to-do list. You make sure your car is in tip-top shape.

Getting the right kind of auto insurance should be on that list as well. Sadly, that is not often the case. Many people like to get liability insurance to satisfy the requirements of the bank or the state. Realistically, however, that basic coverage may not be enough protection to handle the expenses incurred in an accident. Liability is basic insurance that only offers coverage for the other person in case of an accident. If you have damage to your vehicle and/or injuries you are out of luck.

Protect your investment and don’t skimp on auto insurance coverage. Get the best possible policy that covers your investment. Give us a call today to get a complimentary review of your auto policy. We can help you fill in the gaps and make sure you have the coverage you need.