How Can You Help Save the Planet?  

This year Earth Day is on Thursday, April 22nd and there are many ways that we can celebrate this awesome planet that we live and breathe in. There are many environmental issues that we are dealing with as a society, and sometimes it may feel like there is no way you can possibly make a difference with such a tremendous amount of needs that the Earth’s environment has.

However, I assure you that every little bit counts! And, if we all just made a few simple changes in our daily lives, those changes would have an enormous positive impact on our Mother Earth.

Earth Day was first observed on April 22nd, 1970 and is meant to bring attention to the decline of our planet and how we can improve the environment.

Here are a few ways you can help improve our environment and save our planet every day:

  • Use a reusable water bottle
  • Opted for reusable bags instead of plastic grocery bags

  • Turn off the lights during the day – open your curtains to allow the use of natural light

  • Plant a tree – not only will this help the environment but will also help your local wildlife
  • Unplug unused items – chargers, computers, TVs, DVRs, etc.

  • Carpool or ride a bike when possible – not only will this help your wallet but also cut down on emissions and fumes

  • Only run the washing machine and dishwasher when you have a full load – again, this will help your wallet and the environment by cutting water use

  • Choose rechargeable batteries

  • Reduce, Reuse, & Recycle – look for the special triangle on all your products to know if it can be recycled.
  • Stop purchasing only new items, look for it used first

  • DON’T LITTER – keep a small bag in your car at all times for trash to save it from going out your window

For more information about Earth Day and how you can make a difference, click HERE.

Making these few changes will help give us a healthier and more wonderful world to live in. Every little bit counts, so start today and make a difference!

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7 Helpful Tips for Seasonal Allergy Sufferers

Springtime is here! You know what that means… it’s time that seasonal allergies start kicking in. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, you probably aren’t looking forward to this. Taking a proactive approach to battling allergies will help you make the best of this inconvenience.

The biggest secret to minimizing your seasonal allergy suffering is knowing what you’re up against.

What is a seasonal allergy? A seasonal allergy is an allergic reaction to a trigger that is typically only present for part of a year, such as spring. This type of allergy refers to a pollen allergy, such as in trees, weeds, and grasses.

What is pollen? Pollens are tiny, egg-shaped, powdery grains released from flowering plants, carried by the wind or insects, and serve to cross-pollinate other plants of the same type for reproductive purposes. When pollen is present in the air, it can land in a person’s eyes, nose, lungs, and on their skin, causing an allergic reaction.

Unlike avoiding pet dander or simply not eating foods you know you have an allergy to, preventing seasonal allergies is a bit more complicated. It is much more difficult to avoid exposure to pollen, since it is present all around us

Here are 7 tips to help minimize pollen exposure:

  1. Keep windows closed preventing pollens from drifting into your home.
  2. Minimize early morning activity when pollen is usually emitted between 5-10 a.m.
  3. Keep your car windows closed when traveling.
  4. Stay indoors when the pollen count is reported to be high, and on windy days when pollen may be present in higher amounts in the air.
  5. Take a vacation during the height of the pollen season to a more pollen-free area, such as the beach or sea.
  6. Avoid freshly cut grass and mowing the lawn.
  7. Machine dry bedding and clothing. Pollen may collect in laundry if it is hung outside to dry.

For more tips to nip your allergies in the bud, click HERE.

Please use these tips to help yourself beat the seasonal allergy blues!

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Coverage You Can Count On Rain or Shine

Have you ever worried what would happen if you got in an accident and got sued for thousands or even a million dollars, much more than your coverage offers? How would you pay the difference? You could be wiped out financially and lose everything.

An umbrella policy would ensure that you are covered completely. Umbrella coverage policies do exactly as the name implies. They’ve got you covered by providing excess liability coverage, an extension coverage of your current home and auto insurance. It takes care of your liability for lawsuits and medical bills for an auto accident victim or an accident that takes place on your property.

Always remember that accidents can happen to you; they happen to people all the time. If you don’t have an umbrella policy, call or come by the office to learn more about what an umbrella policy can do for you.

If an accident happens, the last thing you want to worry about is whether you’re insured or not. Come talk with us about umbrella policies. Let us give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you’re covered completely, no matter the situation!

For more information on Umbrella insurance and to make sure you are fully covered, call or come by the office.

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STOP!! Don’t Make This Common Mistake

In the event of an accident, most people will file a claim with their insurance carrier, no matter what happened. Doing so seems like the logical thing to do—right? I mean, you have insurance for just this reason, in case something happens.

The problem with filing a claim before speaking with your insurance agent is that many times this could hurt you and actually COST you money!

Here’s an example: Let’s say your insurance costs $1,000 per year. You have a fender bender and file a claim for a small amount, a mere $700. Your policy carries a $500 deductible. You pay the $500 and the insurance company pays $200 to the body shop. Because of this claim, you may lose discounts of up to 20% for the next 3 years. That’s $200 for 3 years, $600 out of your pocket.

Avoid making this common mistake by always checking with us first before filing a claim. We can guide you through the claims process smoothly and efficiently while making sure to deliver the best value to you.

We’re here to help! Call us every time before you file a claim.

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Time to Tackle Spring Cleaning!

Flowers are just starting to bloom and the birds are chirping but the inside of your home may still have a bad case of the winter blues.

Spring cleaning is a tradition that allows us to freshen up our homes and get a head start on the hectic seasons of spring and summer.

It’s time to start thinking about spring cleaning and making a plan to get the job done. Here are a few tips to help you do that:

  • Formulate a Plan & Set Reasonable Goals – Decide which areas of your home need to be cleaned, come up with a plan of action, and budget in time for distractions.
  • Check For Cleaning Supplies – There is nothing more frustrating than to start a project like spring cleaning only to find that you don’t have what you need to get the job done. Before you begin, take an inventory of supplies that you need against what you have under the sink. Save yourself time and a headache by stocking up on supplies before you start cleaning.
  • Tackle One Area at a Time – Don’t let yourself get distracted while you’re cleaning. Start one room or project and finish it before beginning the next one. Working at your own pace and staying on track will help you complete your goals more efficiently and thoroughly.
  • Get Your Family Involved – If you’re feeling overwhelmed, ask for help. Kids are great with helping with the little tasks, and generally enjoy helping. Even the most unwilling helper can make a big difference in finishing a task, getting it done faster and working together as a family to complete a goal.

Cleaning up your home for spring doesn’t have to be dirty work. Use the tips above to make getting your home in shape for spring easy as can be!

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Do You Have a Record of What You Own?

It is very important to keep track of all of your personal belongings in the event something catastrophic happens to you. We hope that disaster never happens to us, but we must be prepared for the worst.

Think about how difficult it would be to list all of your personal belongings after they are lost. Chances are some things would be forgotten or you would not have proof that you owned them initially.

A Home Inventory ensures that your belongings are protected.

You need to complete a Household Inventory and make sure that it is updated frequently, especially after any big purchases. Having a Household Inventory will protect your belongings in the event that they are damaged or destroyed, as well as help you maximize your insurance claim payment.

An accurate inventory and proof of ownership at the time of a loss can make the claim settlement easier and faster.

Taking inventory can be tedious, but if you ever have a fire, break-in, or damage or destruction to your property, you’ll be glad you have a record of what you own.

Tips for building your home inventory:

  • List the value of each of your possessions
  • List serial numbers when possible
  • Keep receipts in a fireproof box if possible or keep a copy of receipts by scanning them and saving them electronically.
  • Take photos and video of your belongings while you narrate with the description of the item and the price paid.
  • Store these files online so you can access them from anywhere.
  • It is not necessary to photograph every book and CD you own…taking a photo of your bookcase or china cabinet will be sufficient.
  • Take advantage of technology – there are many apps and excel templates available that you can download to digitally store all the information you need.

Complete Your Home Inventory Today & Make Sure You Are Protected Tomorrow

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Spring into Daylight Saving Time!

Daylight Saving Time begins Sunday, March 14th at 2 AM. Since it’s almost Spring, it will soon be time to “spring forward”.

Springing forward and falling back may seem simple enough, but daylight saving’s history has actually been quite complex – and misconceptions about it persist today.

Let’s explore some interesting facts about Daylight Saving Time:

  • It’s “daylight saving time,” not “daylight savings time.”
  • Englishman William Willett led the first campaign to implement daylight savings time.
  • Germany was the first country to enact daylight saving time.
  • Daylight saving time in the United States was not intended to benefit farmers, as many people think.
  • Not everyone in the United States springs forward and falls back. (Hawaii and Arizona)

Also, use this time to take care of important tasks around your home:

  • Change the batteries in your smoke detectors
  • Flip your mattress
  • Wash your pillows
  • Take stock of your medicine cabinet and pantry
  • Clean your fridge’s coils
  • Vacuum out your dryer’s vent and ducts
  • Replace or clean filters around your house
  • Clean the oven
  • Check your emergency kit
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March is National Nutrition Month

In response to the growing public interest in nutrition, National Nutrition Month was created in March 1973 to educate and provide information about the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.

Here are a few healthy tips to help boost your personal nutrition and help you become a healthier and happier you:

  • Eat Breakfast – Start your day with a healthy breakfast that includes lean protein, whole grains, fruit, and vegetables.
  • Watch Portion Sizes – Make half your plate fruit and vegetables and the other half for grains and lean protein foods. Measuring cups will help you compare your portions to the recommended serving size.
  • Know Your Food Labels – Reading and understanding the Nutrition Facts panel will help you choose foods and drinks that meet your nutrient needs
  • Fix Healthy Snacks – Choose two or more grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, and protein to sustain your energy levels between meals.
  • Drink More Water – Drink water instead of drinks with added sugars and empty calories.
  • Reduce Added Sugars – Foods and drinks with added sugars can contribute empty calories with little or no nutrition.
  • Eat Seafood Twice a Week – Seafood – fish and shellfish – contain a range of nutrients including healthy omega-3 fats.
  • Explore New Foods and Flavors – Add more nutrition and eating pleasure by expanding your range of food choices. Select new fruit, vegetables, or whole grains to try out at mealtime.

For more healthy tips check out https://www.eatright.org/ for free tips on food, health, and more!

Here’s to a healthier, happier you!

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Insuring One of the Things We Love Most

With so much joy in the air this month, it’s easy to think happily on the things we love, like our kids. We can forget about the Legos (and the sore feet caused by stepping on one barefoot) and toys left underfoot over the years, the times we were forced to discipline them when we really just want to hug them, and now we just smile at the wonderful people our children are becoming.

I was a kid and a teenager once too, so I am thankful that mine didn’t turn out the way I did. I’m only kidding, but one thing I have done is continue to do my best to protect them, and that includes when they’re behind the wheel. To make sure your teen and vehicle are properly covered you need to make sure that your teens are added to your insurance policy.

Adding a teenage driver to your car insurance policy will raise your rates — and your stress will skyrocket. However, there are a few things you can do to lower your insurance rates such as putting them behind the wheel of a Camry rather than a Corvette, encourage them to bring home good report cards with straight A’s, and urging them to keep their driving records clean can all have a major impact on rates.

Below are a few things to keep in mind when insuring your teen driver:

  • There is a reason teenagers cost more to insure — New drivers are among the most dangerous on the road, racking up tickets and accidents at rates several times that of the average driver. Your teenager does not have to drive. Bicycles and bus passes are cheaper, if you live in a place where that’s feasible.
  • Our agency requires that all licensed family members in a household be included on your policy — whether they drive your cars or not. You should let our agency know when your child gets his or her learners permit, but typically the teen isn’t listed (or your policy charged) until he or she is licensed.
  • It is almost always cheaper to add teenagers to an existing policy than it is to buy an additional car and then insure it — If your household has several cars, it can help to have your new driver assigned to a specific one — the one that’s cheapest to insure. Those vehicles with lower auto insurance losses will typically have lower rates. For new drivers, the recommended cars are four-door sedans and crossover vehicles.
  • Pay attention to insurance discounts — If your teen can’t get by without wheels, check with us to see what types of discounts they may qualify for. We offer good-student discounts and a discount if your teen completes a driver’s education course. Bundling multiple insurance policies, like auto, homeowners and life insurance, will also cut costs.
  • Ready to insure your teen driver or have questions about how your teen will affect your Auto Insurance policy? Call our office TODAY!

     

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Driving in Snow and Ice

The best advice for driving in bad winter weather is not to drive at all, if you can avoid it.
Don’t go out until the snow plows and sanding trucks have had a chance to do their work, and allow yourself extra time to reach your destination. If you must drive in snowy conditions, make sure your car is prepared, and that you know how to handle road conditions.
It’s helpful to practice winter driving techniques in a snowy, open parking lot, so you’re familiar with how your car handles. Consult your owner’s manual for tips specific to your vehicle.

Driving safely on icy roads

  1. Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
  2. Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.
  3. Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.
  4. Keep your lights and windshield clean.
  5. Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.
  6. Don’t use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.
  7. Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.
  8. Don’t pass snow plows and sanding trucks. The drivers have limited visibility, and you’re likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.
  9. Don’t assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads.

If your rear wheels skid:

  1. Take your foot off the accelerator.
  2. Steer in the direction you want the front wheels to go. If your rear wheels are sliding left, steer left. If they’re sliding right, steer right.
  3. If your rear wheels start sliding the other way as you recover, ease the steering wheel toward that side. You might have to steer left and right a few times to get your vehicle completely under control.
  4. If you have standard brakes, pump them gently.
  5. If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS), do not pump the brakes. Apply steady pressure to the brakes. You will feel the brakes pulse — this is normal.

If your front wheels skid:

  1. Take your foot off the gas and shift to neutral, but don’t try to steer immediately.
  2. As the wheels skid sideways, they will slow the vehicle and traction will return. As it does, steer in the direction you want to go. Then put the transmission in “drive” or release the clutch, and accelerate gently.

If you get stuck:

  1. Do not spin your wheels. This will only dig you in deeper.
  2. Turn your wheels from side to side a few times to push snow out of the way.
  3. Use a light touch on the gas, to ease your car out.
  4. Use a shovel to clear snow away from the wheels and the underside of the car.
  5. Pour sand, kitty litter, gravel or salt in the path of the wheels, to help get traction.
  6. Try rocking your vehicle. (Check your owner’s manual first — it can damage the transmission on some vehicles.) Shift from forward to reverse, and back again. Each time you’re in gear, give a light touch on the gas until the vehicle gets going.

Please always drive safely and take the extra precautions above if you must drive in bad winter conditions. If an accident happens, call the agency right away to discuss if a claim needs to be filed.

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