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.

Polar Vortex and Your Home

polar vortexThe “polar vortex” in January shattered temperature records throughout the central and eastern U.S.:. New York City hit 4 F o and Chicago suffered -16 F. o The cold snap killed more than 20 people, , schools closed, highways shut down, and people remain inside and kept warm.

Your home, like you, needs to stay warm. Here are a few guidelines to help you and your family keep toasty indoors this winter.

  • Cover your drafts. Seal all open areas. Including doors and windows. You can buy “snake rolls” online through DIY, or roll up an old towel and put it at the source of the draft. Caulking works great for windows.
  • Replace your furnace filters monthly. Although this item might be out of sight and out of mind, put it on your calendar.
  • Winterize your air conditioning unit and pipes. Drain all water from the air conditioner. Get styrofoam covering for your pipes to keep them from freezing. Make sure all water spigots are turned completely off.
  • Replace your doors and windows with storm units.
  • Pay attention to the thermostat. It’ s easy to run your heater on high, but you’ll also get a huge electric/gas bill each month. Adding a blanket or two instead will help keep your bill under control.

Don’t let the polar vortex get the best of your home. For more information on staying warm, feel free to get in touch with us or visit our agency.

Lessor’s Risk Insurance – Protection for Landlords

If you rent out residential property, you face a variety of financial risks… everything from damage from fires and windstorms, through fines for building code violations, to a disgruntled tenant who sues you.Lessor's Risk

Lessor’s Risk insurance to the rescue! These policies cover losses to the property, medical payments for tenants or visitors injured on the premises, and your personal liability for alleged negligence.

The amount of coverage depends on your financial situation. If you’ve taken out a mortgage on the property, the lender will probably insist that you buy a policy large enough to cover the loan balance. As a rule of thumb, the higher the value of the property and the greater the risk of potentially catastrophic liability, the more coverage you’ll need.

Your premium will depend on the type of losses covered and the extent of reimbursement. If you choose comprehensive or all risk coverage (which will pay for damage from all causes unless specifically excluded), your cost will be higher than if you buy “named perils” coverage (which covers only losses due to specific causes). Expect a higher premium for replacement value, which will reimburse you fully for rebuilding your property, than for actual cash value coverage, which will pay only the value of the property, less depreciation.

You can also reduce your premium by increasing the deductible of your Lessor’s Risk policy, which usually ranges from $100 to 5% of the building coverage.

Optional coverages include repayment for rental income lost if the property becomes uninhabitable, and for risks of doing business with tenants, such as legal fees and liability against claims for libel, slander, and discrimination.

Our personal insurance specialists would be happy to help you select a Lessor’s Risk policy that offers the best value. Just give us a call.

10 Tips for Black Friday

Many of us can’t resist the lure of the incredible sales offered on Black Friday. While not technically the biggest shopping day of the year (that honor is given to the last Saturday before Christmas), Black Friday does offer some great deals, but it is also primetime for thieves.  At Mason & Mason, we’re all about safeguarding what’s important to you, so we’ve compiled a list of 10 things you can do to protect yourself this holiday season.

  1. Black FridayCopy your cards. Before hitting the mall, make photocopies of your credit cards. If your purse or wallet gets stolen, you’ll have the card information and also the customer service number you need to cancel the cards.
  2. Protect your purse. Don’t leave your purse sitting in a cart unattended. Keep it on your person so that it’s more difficult for someone to walk off with (I learned this one the hard way after having mine grabbed a few years back).
  3. Streamline payment methods. By carrying only one credit card, you ensure that you’ll only have to cancel one credit account if you find yourself the victim of a pickpocket.
  4. Keep it concealed. Don’t pull out your checkbook or credit card before you reach the register. Although it can be tempting to do so in an effort to save time, by keeping it out of sight you avoid “shoulder surfers” who might be looking over your shoulder and capturing your information.
  5. “S” = Secure. Shopping online? Look for the “s” in the web address (e.g. https://www.amazon.com) or for a “lock” symbol in the lower right hand corner of your computer screen. These let you know that you’re on a secure shopping site and your information will be encrypted.
  6. Review your receipts. Save all of your receipts so you can match them later against your monthly statements.
  7. Corral the kids.  Taking the younger ones shopping with you? Designate a central location before hitting the store to meet up in if you get separated. Make sure they know exactly where to go if they lose you.
  8. At the ATM. Only use ATMs in locations that are open and visible. Do not dispose of your receipts at the ATM; take them with you and take care of them when you get home.
  9. Trunk it! If you’re making a day of it and hitting more than one store, keep your purchases in the trunk if possible. Having that bag from Coach lying on the backseat adds an extra layer of temptation for a thief. In this case, out of sight often does mean out of mind.
  10. Park smart. Don’t park next to large trucks or vans that block your vision (or the line of sight of others who might help out in case of trouble). Always have your keys in hand, ready when you approach your car.

Stay safe and have fun. And don’t forget… if your Christmas shopping includes a really nice piece of jewelry for that special someone, be sure to call your insurance agent and get it put on a jewelry schedule! Questions? Let us know. We’ll be happy to help however we can.

Thanksgiving: A Recipe for Disaster?

The menu is set. The shopping is done. The preparations may even be well underway already. Thanksgiving is nearly upon us!

According to the National Fire Protection Association, Thanksgiving is the peak day for cooking fires. It makes sense, doesn’t it?  We want you to have a happy and safe holiday, so we’ve put together some basic safety tips to make sure your Thanksgiving doesn’t turn into a recipe for disaster.

  1. cooking firesKeep children in check. We know that some kids love to help with dinner prep, so we’re not suggesting you kick them out of the kitchen altogether, but a good rule of thumb is to keep them at least 3 feet away from the stove, for their sake.
  2. Get after the grease. Make sure all cooking surfaces have been thoroughly cleaned before turning the heat on to ensure nothing has spilled there that could ignite and catch fire.
  3. Stay by the stove. Perhaps the easiest way to avoid cooking fires is to simply stay attentive. Unattended cooking is the top cause of cooking fires.
  4. Put a lid on it! Keep a pan or a lid close by in case flames should erupt. You can use the lid to smother the fire and put it out. NEVER USE WATER.
  5. Don’t sip yourself silly. With so much going on in the kitchen, you’ll need your wits about you. Save the wine for after dinner and you can be at your very best as you serve your family and friends.
  6. Sound the alarm. Before the big day, check your smoke detectors to be sure they have fresh batteries and are in good working order.

Click here for fire safety tips for areas OUTSIDE the kitchen.

From all of us at Mason & Mason, have a beautiful (and safe) Thanksgiving!