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.

Danger! Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!

safety featuresDon’t you wish life came with a warning? Well, sometimes it does.

Everybody has felt that unpleasant surprise when a car comes zooming into view after being hidden in a blind spot. Older motorists are no different, and they see warning systems against this hazard as the top safety features in newer cars, according to a new report by the MIT AgeLab and The Hartford Insurance Company. After surveying hundreds of drivers over age 50 who get behind the wheel at least three times a week, the study found that these “mature motorists” felt more confident with cars which have at least one of 10 advanced safety technologies.

Here are the top 10 safety features for older motorists (in order):

  1. Blind-spot warnings alert drivers when another vehicle is approaching unseen and also help with parking.
  2. Crash mitigation systems detect imminent collisions and can help reduce passenger injuries.
  3. Emergency response systems alert paramedics or other emergency personnel if there’s an accident.
  4. Drowsy driver alerts warn motorists when they nod off or otherwise become inattentive.
  5. Reverse monitoring systems help drivers (especially those with reduced flexibility) judge distances and back up safely by warning of objects behind the vehicle.
  6. Vehicle stability control reduces crashes by helping steer a car if it veers offline or has trouble navigating a curve.
  7. Lane departure warning alerts motorists when they drift from a lane.
  8. “Smart” headlights illuminate the road more effectively by responding to the direction the driver is steering and the vehicle’s speed.
  9. Voice-activated command systems allow motorists to use a car’s features without losing focus on the highway.
  10. Automated parking assist calculates the angles and steers the car into the space, reducing driver stress and increasing the number of potential parking spots.

Does your car have any of these safety features? Do you find value in them? Let us know!

Travel Insurance – #ProtectYourTrip

February and April hold some of the busiest vacation weeks of the year. Do you have plans? Should you purchase travel insurance? Let’s look at some different situations.

Imagine, you’re getting away from the cold weather for a nice Caribbean cruise. You’ve been planning this trip for more than six months. Your bags are packed and ready when a major snow storm strikes. All flights out of your local airport are cancelled.

Let’s say you’re on safari in the African plains when you start feeling ill. You’re hundreds of miles from a hospital. Your guide is driving as fast he can, but it will take hours before you get to medical care, and you’re fading rapidly. To save your life, the guide has to call in a medi-vac copter.

Under these scenarios, you’d be out thousands of dollars — unless you have Travel insurance! This invaluable “peace of mind” coverage can provide total reimbursement for a trip that’s cancelled, as well as access to quality hospitals, pharmacies, and health care providers in case of death or illness (as well as other travel-related expenses).

Don’t leave home without Travel insurance! For more information, feel free to get in touch with us.