summer car

Are you planning on going on a road trip this summer? The start of summer is almost here, so here’s how to prepare and ready your car for your trip!

Did you know that 74% of Americans taking a summer vacation plan on driving to their destination? Whether you’re taking a trip to a nearby beach, or driving across the country, here are some essential tips to ensure that you and your family stay safe on the road.

Vehicle Checklist

The vehicle that you are going to drive on your trip needs to be in tiptop shape. You should first check your tire pressure and that your wiper blades are in working order, and also verify that your car has all of its proper fluid levels.  Running out of air conditioning coolant on a hot day would be quite unpleasant!

You’ll also want to double-check that all of your lights are working, including headlights, brake lights, and turn signals. If you’re going to tow a trailer, ensure all of the connections are hooked up properly.

Seat Passengers Correctly

Car crashes are the number one killer of children 1 to 12 years old in the United States. Protect your children by putting them in the right car seat for their age and size. You should reevaluate their current car seat, get it inspected before you head out.

Packing Tips

When packing your vehicle, the car can get filled up pretty quickly. Make sure to spread out the items that you pack so that the weight is evenly distributed throughout your vehicle. It’s easy to overpack, but it’s essential that you have a clear view while driving. Before heading out on the road, be sure you have a proper line of sight through your rear-view mirror, side mirrors, and windows so you can see traffic.

To free up space in the car, consider purchasing a roof rack. When putting it on, make sure that you follow the user manual’s instructions carefully. Be sure to look up how much weight the roof rack can hold as well.

Take a Break

When traveling long distances, it’s important to take frequent breaks to help maintain your focus while driving, and avoid fatigue. According to the NHTSA, driving while drowsy is a contributing factor in 100,000 accidents every year. Throughout your trip, schedule frequent breaks along the way to eat, drink, taking in the scenery, and snapping a few family pictures.

Be Ready for an Emergency

As always, it is better to be safe than sorry. When you’re packing, make sure to include an emergency kit with at least a flashlight, blanket, first-aid kit, and a supply of water and snacks.

With these summer road trip preparation and safety tips, we hope you and your family are now ready to enjoy your vacation safely. If you have any questions about your auto insurance policy, call Tracy-Driscoll at 860-589-3434 to speak with an agent today!

 

 

Despite a dramatic rise in the number of home break-ins, nearly one in three homeowners (30%), don’t take the most basic steps to protect their homes. That was the bottom line found in a survey sponsored by Nationwide Insurance of more than 1,000 policyholders coast-to-coast, who carry Homeowner’s or Condo insurance.

Since June is National Safety Month, here are some tips to keep your home and belongings safe:

  • Put deadbolts on doors and always lock them (nearly one third of all thieves enter homes through front doors, which are oftentimes unlocked, according to the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association)
  • Make sure that windows (on all levels) are locked
  • Install a home security system and keep it on 24-7 (one in five respondents to the Nationwide survey turned off their systems during the day – even though that’s when home burglars are busiest)
  • Have motion-detection lights on the outside of your property
  • Do not hide a spare key outside your home – burglars know the most common hiding places

Going on Vacation?

If you’re going on vacation, tell the police or the neighborhood watch about your trip plans and ask them to drive by your house to see if it’s secure. While you’re away, put newspaper and mail delivery on hold, or have someone pick them up for you. You may also want to keep quiet online about your travel plans, since criminals will often use social media to target people who are out of town.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns about your home insurance policy, call Tracy-Driscoll at 860-589-3434 to speak with one of our professionals today!

 

 

travel

Because coverages and rates vary widely, it can be difficult to choose the policy that’s best for you, your family, and wallet. To help see if travel insurance may be right for you, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do you have an extended wait time between flights, or do you have to hurry from one to the other?
  2. Am I going to be travelling on non-refundable flights?
  3. Where am I going and what are the risks associated with traveling and my destination?
  4. Am I prepared to handle any health problems, known or unexpected, that might arise?
  5. Will I be driving around when I reach my destination?
  6. Will I be taking part in any high-risk activities or adventures?
  7. If I missed a flight, am delayed or incapacitated, will I be able to afford a return ticket?
  8. What is the refund policy on my coverage?
  9. Have I read the fine print to make sure that I understand exactly what is covered and what isn’t?
  10. Have I compared similar policies to note any major price discrepancies?

Travel insurance is usually offered directly from the service that you booked your flight from, confirmed your hotel, or reserved a rental car. Ultimately, it can provide peace of mind for your upcoming vacation, and if something goes wrong, you can recover some or all of your costs.

As always, Tracy-Driscoll would be happy to help you answer any of your questions regarding your home,  auto,  business, life, and health insurance policies. If you are considering purchasing travel insurance, call us today at 860-589-3434 to go over your existing policies and see what they cover during traveling, so that you don’t end up paying for duplicate coverage.

Bon voyage!

 

 

spring cleaning

Often overlooked during weekly cleaning, the walls, windows and baseboards of your home harbor plenty of dirt and dust. Wash them at least once a year to protect their finish and ensure they look polished.

  • Move the furniture away from your walls, and wipe down the walls with a slightly damp cloth or magic eraser.
  • The baseboards are also easy to wash off with a damp cloth. For a thorough cleaning, use a toothbrush to reach into all the crevices.
  • Use vinegar on the windows instead of glass cleaner to cut through accumulated dirt and prevent streaks.

Scrub Your Carpet

Accumulated dirt, pet dander and odors will eventually ruin your carpets. Instead of just running the vacuum each week, deep clean your carpets at least once a year. You can easily rent a carpet cleaner and do the job yourself or you can hire a professional cleaning service. Doing so will prolong the life of your floors, and reduce the chances of you having to replace them in the near future.

Care for Furniture

Modern or antique, your furniture will last longer when it’s free from dirt. Take time this spring to wipe off each piece from top to bottom. Use a soft cloth on wood to prevent scratches, and remember to spot treat dirty upholstery, flip the cushions and repair any tears or holes in the fabric.

Reduce Clutter

In addition to attracting pests and rodents, clutter reduces your ability to exit your home in an emergency. Commit to tossing or donating clutter like piles of books, excess furniture or anything you haven’t used in six months. Your home will thank you.

With these spring cleaning tips, you’ll reduce maintenance costs over time. Not only will your house look its best, but it’ll be ready to weather the worst. As always, if you have any questions or concerns about your home insurance policy, call Tracy-Driscoll at 860-589-3434.

 

 

emergency kit

No matter where you live, you’re at the mercy of Mother Nature. Heavy rains, floods, hurricanes and tornados can all threaten your home and family this spring. While no amount of preparation prevents volatile spring weather, a home emergency kit will help you stay safe.

Survival Essentials

A warm blanket, spare set of clothes and matches could make all the difference. Pack these and all other essential supplies you might need in an airtight container that’s easily accessible.

Food and Water

The Red Cross suggests families store two weeks’ worth of food and water, which means you’ll need one gallon of water per person per day and a variety of easily prepared, non-perishable foods. Don’t forget to stock baby and pet food if necessary, too.

First Aid

Minor bumps and bruises can occur as your family rushes to safety. Your first aid kit should include basic first aid supplies like bandages, antibacterial cream, burn cream and pain reliever. Pack prescription medications, hearing aid batteries and other specialized medications if needed.

Hygiene Items

Toilet paper, toothbrushes and diapers are essential. Hand sanitizer and bleach should also be included in your emergency kit.

Stay Connected

You’ll want to stay connected to the outside world, so include a battery-powered radio, extra batteries, your cell phone and chargers in your emergency kit. A flashlight and whistle for each person is also a good idea.

Tools

Whether you have to dig out of the basement or open a soup can, tools come in handy. Stock a multipurpose tool, work gloves, scissors, shovel, screwdriver set, hammer and manual can opener in your kit.

Important Papers

In the rush of an evacuation, you may forget to grab your purse or wallet. Copy important papers like your driver’s license, birth certificate, insurance policies and medical information. Store them, extra cash and your family’s emergency contact information in a waterproof bag to keep them safe.

This home emergency kit will play a big role in keeping you safe when volatile spring weather strikes. To be even more prepared, it’s never a bad idea to update your insurance policies too. Call Tracy-Driscoll today at 860-589-3434!

 

 

fire pit

Are you looking to enjoy your fire pit with friends and family throughout the spring and summer months? Before you light your pit, we just wanted to make you aware of six safety tips to follow, so that you can thoroughly enjoy your spring and summer nights ahead.

Pay Attention to Placement

Setting up the fire pit in the right location improves safety. Start with an even and solid surface. Make sure you pay attention to your surroundings as well. Finally, avoid placing your fire pit near flammable objects like trees, brush and your home.

Follow the Operating Instructions

Every fire pit operates a little differently, so make sure you read the owner’s manual for your model. Additionally, never operate an outdoor unit indoors and always have a garden hose or fire extinguisher handy.

Start the Fire Properly

You may have invited friends over for a relaxing night by the fire, but never start a fire while a strong wind is blowing. Doing so could create an inferno that quickly grows out of control. Likewise, avoid using accelerants to start the fire, like lighter fluid! Instead, tinder like newspaper and twigs should be enough to successfully start a fire without creating a safety hazard.

Keep Your Distance

Although sparks look harmless,  they can be quite dangerous! Make sure you use a fire screen to prevent errant sparks. You’ll also want to sit at a safe distance away from the fire and keep an eye on it. Extra supervision of children and pets may also be required, who may be tempted to get too close.

Keep a First Aid Kit Handy

Despite your best safety precautions, burns can happen as when you hang out near the fire pit. Keep a first aid kit and burn cream nearby in case an accident does occur. Make sure you follow the recommended procedures for burn treatment, and consult a medical professional if necessary.

Put the Fire Out Completely

After your evening of fun, douse the fire and the ashes with water,  so the fire doesn’t smolder and flare while you’re sleeping.

This spring, spend your evenings relaxing around your fire pit, secure in the knowledge that you’re balancing fun with security. Just be sure to follow these six safety procedures to keep you, your friends, and family safe. Of course, if you have any questions or concerns about your home insurance policy, call Tracy-Driscoll today at 860-589-3434.

 

 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more teens die from motor vehicle crashes than from any other cause. Protect your teens by having them follow these five safe driving tips:

  1. Turn off the Phone

Talking or texting on a cellphone, even one that’s hands-free, is equivalent to driving drunk. Plus, Connecticut driving laws prohibit the use of texting, calling, or using hands-free technology while driving for anyone 18 or younger. To avoid the hefty fines, have your teen turn off their phones when they get behind the wheel so they can focus on the road.

  1. Follow the Speed Limit

Speed contributes to up to 40 percent of fatal teen accidents. Instead of driving fast to keep up with traffic or to show off, your teen driver will stay safe when they follow the speed limit. This tip especially applies when driving on a unfamiliar road, in the midst of heavy traffic or during inclement weather. But make no mistake, it’s also important to follow every day.

  1. Reduce Distractions

Loud music has its place at a party, but not in the car. Teen drivers must focus on the task at hand, and reduce distractions that may prevent them from seeing obstacles, obeying posted signs or maintaining control of the vehicle.

  1. Practice Defensive Driving

Defensive driving allows teens to maintain safe following distances, obey signs and plan an escape route. Most drivers develop this mindset over time, but smart teens need to practice these skills from the time they first earn their driver’s license.

  1. Drive a Safe Car

Employing safe driving techniques is an important factor when keeping your teen driver safe on the road, but the vehicle that they drive plays a very important role too. Vehicles with anti-lock brakes, air bags, backup-assist camera, and electronic stability control can help better protect your teen driver out on the road.

Make sure you share these five tips with your teen driver! Likewise, you should be sure that you have adequate auto insurance on all of your vehicles. Call Tracy-Driscoll today at 860-589-3434, to learn how to update your auto insurance policies and insure your teen driver.

 

diy house

With the arrival of spring, you might be itching to start some new home improvement projects. But, before you do, did you know that certain ones can reduce your home insurance costs? Below are six DIY projects that can save you money!

Replace Washer Hoses

Did you know that an inexpensive no-burst stainless steel hose from your local hardware store can reduce your home insurance premium by 10 percent? Attach it to your washing machine and reduce the risks of one of the most common causes of water damage.

Install a Sturdy Garage Door

Because strong seasonal winds and other stormy weather can destroy your garage door and everything that’s inside, you may want to install an extra durable version. If you install one that’s hurricane-resistant, or fitted with horizontal and vertical braces, it can save you 10 percent on your insurance premium.  As an added bonus, it will potentially pay for itself within five years.

Purchase Trouble Detectors

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are two investments that will reduce your home insurance premiums, but you should also consider investing in other alerting systems as well. They can detect plumbing failure, furnace failure, and inform you if your water pipes are frozen. These detectors, and other trouble detectors can be found online or at your local hardware store.

Invest in Fire Extinguishers

For a savings of five percent, invest in fire extinguishers. You should place one in the kitchen and on every floor or your home.  Since almost all fires start out small at first, having fire extinguishers on hand, and knowing how to use one properly could prevent a massive fire from devastating your home. They are also relatively inexpensive, and will help you feel more safe and secure.

Choose Fire-Resistant Siding

You’ll save 20 percent on your insurance premium, and give your home a new exterior appearance when you install fire-resistant siding. Metal, clapboard, fiber-cement and stucco are all Class A fire-resistant materials that are available in a variety of colors and finish styles to meet your design and style needs.

Replace Your Roof

Because worn shingles on your current roof won’t do much to protect your home when windy weather arrives, think about replacing your roof. Select sturdy roofing materials like metal, shake, or Class 4 modified asphalt shingles. By using six staples or nails per shingle instead of four, you’ll earn additional savings.

Better Home, Better Rates

These spring home improvement projects can decrease your premium. You’ll also save money when you drop additional structure coverage, increase your deductible, make automatic payments and combine home and auto policies.

Call Tracy-Driscoll today at  860-589-3434 to see  how you can save more money on your home insurance, and protect yourself through the season and rest of the year.

 

computer hacking

The recent computer crimes that so devastated Sony are by no means isolated incidents. Every industry has been affected, from major department stores, governments, banks, healthcare providers, and credit card companies. Hacking is a very lucrative business, where criminals can earn more in a day than most of us make in a year. Since cybercrime is unlikely to go away anytime soon,  it’s a good idea to find ways to reduce the chances of an attack on your business.

How can we risk manage this threat?

Updating computer systems can be tricky and often exposes data normally kept safe behind firewalls. When components are switched out, oftentimes doors can be left open for outsiders to intrude.

Check your fundamentals. When you must lower your own firewall, make sure you’ve changed the factory provided password to the next firewall. Implement and maintain strict protocols for employees to change any aspect, hardware or software, of their company computers.

Complete Software Updates

Software updates are sent out by companies when they discover vulnerabilities in their software that hackers can exploit. These security patches usually appear in the form of a pop-up, or download prompt.

Although they are seen as an annoyance and or interruption to your employees, make sure they keep their computer software up to date. Having to restart a computer to install new software may seem timely at first, but is much easier to deal with than a massive data breach in your company’s system.

Be Aware of Phishing Scams

You should also train your employees to recognize phishing scams. Do not relay log-in information or passwords in response to an email. If an email seems poorly worded with misspellings, it probably did not originate from a major corporation, and is most likely someone trying to steal important information.

Change Passwords

The recent computer hacking crimes should be reason enough to encourage you to change your passwords regularly. Request all systems users to change their passwords often. Your company can protect its passwords through thorough hashing and encryption. Your company  should also back up all encryption software and password information.

Risks Still Persist

Completing all possible due diligence helps move the criminals to an easier target, but determined hackers can still find ways in. So, how does a risk manager deal with one of the fastest growing liability risks for companies?

First, understand the magnitude of the risk. For each client record exposed through your company website, your company will provide a year of identity theft protection and cyber security. At a reasonable $150 per account, you  may be shocked by at the 1,000,000 customer accounts like the large chains or credit card companies exposed to loss.

These claims are becoming more frequent, and more severe. The only real risk management answer is transferring the risk, and most likely through insurance. What limit is safe?

Depending upon your database from outside your company, customer data, supplier data, bank information, and things you can’t necessarily track like old accounts, these claims can bankrupt companies and destroy reputations if an inadequate response is offered.

Consider that $150 per account. How many will you likely lose in a cyber-attack? Call Tracy-Driscoll today at 860-589-3434 to find the best fitting plan for your business. In the long run, it will be worth the conversation.

 

 

outdoors

Playing outside isn’t just for kids, it has tons of benefits for adults too. One unexpected perk: it can possibly lead to lower life insurance rates.

It’s not always easy to make yourself go outside and exercise, but knowing that the effort can keep you healthy and save you money may serve as a wonderful motivator. The more fun you have working out, the better the results will be.

Benefits of Exercise

We all know that exercise burns calories and improves your health. Since life insurance rates are based on your health risk factors, regular physical activity can help lower your life insurance rates. These are some of the benefits of exercise:

  • Lowers your risk for heart disease and stroke
  • Lowers your blood pressure
  • Lowers your blood sugar levels and risk for diabetes
  • Helps build stronger bones
  • Puts you in a better mood
  • Gives you a clearer mind

Make a Commitment to Exercise

Set aside some time to exercise most days of the week. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes, but even 10 minutes is better than nothing. The trick is to find some activities that you love, and any activity that is fun and gets you moving is a good choice. Here are some options:

  • Walk, jog, bike, swim laps, or hike.
  • Join a local sports league. On the days your league doesn’t meet, train for your sport by doing drills, lifting weights, and getting in some cardio.
  • Take Zumba, boot camp or kickboxing in the park.

Play Outside With Your Kids!

If you have children, they’re probably a significant reason why you have life insurance in the first place. Why not use them to help you get in shape? They’ll keep you laughing while you exercise.

  • Play Tag, Follow the Leader, or Hide-and-Seek if you have younger children
  • Play catch, shoot hoops, or kick around a soccer ball
  • Walk around the field at your children’s sports practices

Everyone can find an activity that they love as long as they search hard enough, with the right guidance. Keeping yourself in shape will give you more energy and can keep your life insurance rates down. As always, contact Tracy-Driscoll at 860-589-3434 if you have any questions about life insurance policies or rates.

 

 
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