Winter Survival Kit for Your Car

It won’t be long before drivers will be dealing with snowy and icy roads. Be prepared by having a winter survival kit in your car.

In addition to essentials such as jumper cables, a flashlight, duct tape, first aid kit and a few tools, Popular Mechanics suggests these items for your car to get you through the winter months.

  1. Snow Socks – These are a space saving alternative to tire chains when you need extra traction. Snow socks are basically fabric doughnuts that fit easily over the drive tires and can increase grip to extricate a stuck car or get it up a slippery hill.
  2. Shovel – A compact folding shovel is perfect to dig your car out of a snow drift.
  3. Spare Phone Charger – Today, the cellphone is your primary means of rescue. But, it’s no use if the battery is dead. A car charger should always be in your glove box, but, a hand-cranked charger could be a life-saver if your car battery is dead.
  4. Hand Warmers/Wool Blanket – A pair of winter gloves and a wool blanket will help keep you warm if you’re stuck. You should only run the engine a few minutes at a time to avoid deadly exhaust fumes from entering the vehicle. That’s where the gloves and blanket come in to provide warmth.
  5. LED Flashers/Flares – Battery-powered LED lights will work for hours and alert other drivers if your car is on the side of the road. Flares may seem like something from the past, but the heat they generate helps prevent them from being buried by driving snow. They can also be used to start a signaling or warming fire.
  6. Food and Drink – If you’re stranded during a blizzard, it could be hours or even more than a day before helps arrives. Keep a few plastic bottles of water and energy bars in the car. Instead of water, consider sports drinks. The sugars and electrolytes lower the freezing point of the drink and will stay liquid longer in bitter cold.
  7. Windshield Deicer – This is a must to help keep the windshield clear. Windshield wipers often ice up and can even stop working in heavy snow and ice. The deicer can also be used to melt ice on the road to provide traction and unfreeze car locks.
  8. Snow Tires – All of today’s vehicles come equipped with all-season tires. These are basically meant for three-season driving and are not good for heavy snow or ice. All-season tires’ tread will harden when the temperature drops decreasing slip resistance. Consider installing snow tires that are made with a special compound that keeps its grip in the harshest weather and provides better traction.

Contact me today to see if you have the right auto insurance for all seasons!

Halloween Safety Tips for the Home

Halloween is a fun holiday for kids – and adults, too. It’s all about costumes, candy and parties. But, sadly, Halloween does pose some risks. Homeowners need to be aware that they need to keep their property safe when the ghosts and goblins come calling.

Here are some Halloween safety tips to keep children, your home and even the pets, safe:

Check your homeowner’s policy – Make sure your homeowner’s policy has to proper liability coverage to protect you against lawsuits. Have your insurance agent review your coverage.

Light it Up – Turn on the front, outside lights. If your stairs or walkway are not properly illuminated, consider stringing some Halloween lights along the walk leading up to the stairs, creating a lighted pathway.

Keep it Clear – The walkway and stairs should be clear of any obstacles such as flower pots, ornaments, and wet leaves. This will avoid trips and falls.

Prepackaged Candy – Serve only prepackaged candy or fruit to the trick-or-treaters. Make sure the wrapping is not ripped. Unwrapped fruit or candy will make parents nervous and would likely just get thrown out.

Party Safe – If you’re hosting a Halloween party, remember you are responsible for your guests when it comes to serving alcohol. Do not allow anyone under the legal drinking age to consume alcoholic beverages and be aware of anyone drinking excessively.

No Candles – Do not use candles in Jack-o-Lanterns in your home. These can easily be knocked over and cause a fire. Children should not carry candles, even in a Jack-o-Lantern. Use battery-powered candles, flashlights or glow sticks.

Safe Costumes – Make sure your children’s costumes have some reflective areas when they head out for trick-or-treating so they can be seen by drivers. Masks should not impede vision. Have your children carry a flashlight or light stick.

Pet Treats – Don’t forget your pet on Halloween. Most pet shops sell Halloween treats. Do give chocolate to your dog.  A substance in chocolate, theobromine, is toxic to pets. Candy, in general, is not good for your pet since it can cause upset stomachs. Be careful not to leave wrappers around for your pet to consume.

Stepping Out – If you’re going out for Halloween, keep lights on inside and out to deter vandals and burglars.

If you have questions about homeowners insurance, please call me, Lois Drukman, at Walter May Insurance, at 781-740-5421.

Flood Insurance Facts

In the wake of two major hurricanes that recently hit the U.S., many homeowners are thinking about flood insurance. Unfortunately, many do not realize that most homeowners and apartment policies do not cover flood damage.

Floods are the nation’s most common and costly natural disaster and cause millions of dollars in damage every year, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Storms are not the only cause of flooding. Overflows from oceans and rivers, snowmelt, a dam or levee breach and impacts to groundwater tables from new developments can result in flood damage.

Everyone is at Risk

You don’t have to live on the coast or in a high-risk area to be in danger of a flood damaging your property. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) reports that about 20% of flood insurance claims occur outside of flood zones. Many are caught off guard from the financial and emotional impacts of floods.

Flood vs. Water Damage

There is a difference between flood damage and water damage.

Flood – Insurance companies classify a flood as a sudden rise of water on land that is normally dry. This can be from rising rivers, lakes, streams or oceans. Also, a flood can be from a mudslide or heavy rain seeping into the basement of a home. These causes are typically not covered by homeowner’s insurance.

Water damage – This is generally from a burst water pipe in your home or rainwater or an ice dam leaking through a roof. Homeowner’s insurance would cover these damages.

Where Do I Get Flood Insurance?

Flood insurance is offered through NFIP as well as private carriers. A broker can determine what carrier you would be eligible for. Contrary to believe, it is affordable – most policies cost as little as $200 depending on your circumstances.

If you live in a flood plain and have a mortgage through a lender, you would be required to buy flood insurance. Even if you don’t have a mortgage and live in high risk area, having flood insurance can mean the difference between having the funds to rebuild or being financially devastated.

Please call me, Lois Drukman, at Walter May Insurance, 781-740-5421, for more information about flood insurance.

Why Auto Insurance Rates are Rising

Many drivers are asking why auto insurance rates are rising. There are several factors that are driving rates up – more vehicles on the road, lower gas prices and distracted driving – among them. These factors result in an increase in crashes and an increase in costly claims that push up auto insurance premiums.

Let’s take a look at the details from Hanover Insurance.

    • More Fatalities and Injuries– According to the National Safety Council, traffic fatalities in 2016 increased 6% from the previous year where about 40,000 died on the nation’s roads – a 10-year high. There were about 4.6 million injuries as a result of crashes.
    • Costly Crashes – The cost from crash-related injuries, deaths and property damage crashes spiked 12% last year to about $432 billion. The costs include losses from wages, medical expenses, productivity and damage.
    • More Distracted – At any given time, about 660,000 American drivers are using cellphones and electronic devices while driving. Distracted driving played a role in about 10 percent of fatal crashes.
    • Lower gas prices – Gasoline prices in 2016 average $2.01, the lowest since 2009.
    • More Hitting the Road – A total of 3.2 trillion miles were driven in the US in 2016, an increase of 100 billion from the previous year. This is the fifth straight year the numbers have risen.
    • More Social – It is estimated that 74% of drivers use Facebook while behind the wheel.
    • More New Cars – A record high of 17.6 million new cars were sold in 2016. More cars on the road lead to more crashes. The more crashes, the more claims.
    • Fatigued Drivers – A study found that some 83 million sleep-deprived Americans drive every day. Drivers who are short one to two hours of the recommended seven hours of sleep a night doubles the risk of a crash.
    • More Technology – Today’s vehicles have more high tech-parts than ever – sensors, xenon headlights, and cameras to name a few. These are expensive to replace when damaged and have increased the costs of claims by $300 in the last five years.

If you have questions about you auto insurance policy, please call me, Lois Drukman, at Walter May Insurance, at 781-740-5421.

So What About The Law [Radio Broadcast July 2017]

“So what about that law?” Radio Show

Sunday 10:30 AM WATD 95.9 FM

Lois Drukman, my insurance broker, and the show’s Health, Auto and Home Insurance expert co hosted. We discussed the law as it relates to insurance.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

 

If you are in need of an insurance agent or are looking to find out what your insurance options are for your home, auto, health or business please contact me.

Lois Drukman
Independent Insurance Broker
Walter J. May Insurance Agency Inc., Hingham, MA
Direct: 781-740-5421 Cell: 617-827-6848
Email: ldrukman@waltermayinsurance.com

Keep Safe on July 4th

July 4th is a time for celebrations – backyard cookouts, fireworks or a day at the beach. Following some basic tips will help you, your family and friends to keep safe on July 4th.

The American Red Cross recommends these safety tips:

Barbequing

Countless people are injured every year while grilling with charcoal or propane. Also, fires have been started by grills being too close to a house or deck. Here are some tips for safe grilling.

  • Never leave the grill unsupervised
  • Do not grill indoors – including campers, garages or tents
  • Keep everyone including pets away from the grill
  • Never add lighter fluid to hot coals
  • Keep grill away from the house, deck, tree branches and anything flammable
  • Use long-handled grilling tools
  • Follow the grill manufacturer’s instructions

Fireworks

The best and safest way to enjoy fireworks is going to a professional, public display. The Red Cross suggests staying at least 500 feet away from fireworks shows. Many states ban most types of fireworks for personal use. If you or someone is planning to set off fireworks, here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Never allow small children to handle fireworks
  • Keep water nearby
  • Wear eye protection when setting off fireworks
  • Light one at a time
  • Never try to relight a “dud”
  • Do not throw fireworks toward people, pets, structures, vehicles or anything flammable
  • Leave any area where amateurs are setting off fireworks

The Beach

Enjoy the sun and fun at the beach, but keep safe. It’s best to swim at a beach with lifeguards, especially inexperienced swimmers. Here are some beach safety suggestions:

  • Be vigilant for rip currents -They often exist near jetties and piers. If you’re caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore until free of the current. Float or tread water if you can’t swim
  • Always swim in designated areas
  • Keep an eye to sky and be alert for approaching thunderstorms or changing weather
  • Never swim alone or while drinking alcohol
  • Keep a constant eye on children
  • Watch out for aquatic life including plants
  • Never dive headfirst
  • Use sunscreen
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration

Keeps pets safe

Noise from fireworks can startle pets so it’s best to keep them away from any noisy celebrations, recommends the American Veterinary Medical Association. If you’re going to a fireworks show, leave your pets at home. For backyard celebrations, here are some pet safety tips:

  • Keep sparklers, fireworks, glow sticks, skewers away from pets
  • Do not feed them scraps from cookouts
  • Fried and fatty foods, onions, grapes and chocolate are among the no-noes to feed pets as they can be toxic to them
  • Do not leave pets in a hot vehicle or unattended
  • Make sure they have water available

Avoid Overheating

Hot, humid weather can cause heat exhaustion. Here are some suggestions to stay cool.

  • Wear light-colored clothing
  • Stay in shady areas as much as possible
  • Wear a hat
  • Take it slow
  • Drink plenty of water

Keep safe on July 4th!

 

Tips for Buying Boat Insurance

Before heading out on the open waters in your boat, make sure you have the proper insurance coverage. Just like auto insurance, there are various coverages and limitations. Check out these tips for buying boat insurance from Nerd Wallet.

Do You Need Boat Insurance?

It depends on the type of boat you own. If you have a yacht, a large sailboat, a jet boat, a personal watercraft such as a WaveRunner or a boat that goes faster than 25 mph, the answer is yes, it should be insured.

Canoes, small engine boats and any small, slow or inexpensive craft typically do not need to be insured. However, it never hurts to have liability insurance in the event your boat causes damage to someone else’s property or if someone on your boat gets hurt.

Homeowners’ policies typically will cover a boat, but will cap coverage at $1,000 or 10% of your home’s value. So, this would only apply to small, slow or inexpensive vessels. Liability coverage under a homeowner’s policy usually doesn’t cover boats.

What Boat Insurance Covers

  • Property Liability – This covers damages your boat causes to others property in amounts ranging from $15,000 to $300,000
  • Bodily Injury – Pays for someone who is injured on your boat
  • Damage or Destruction – Covers losses from a collision, fire, lightning, theft and vandalism and also damage to permanently attached equipment including anchors
  • Guest Passenger Liability – Covers legal expenses of someone driving your boat with permission
  • Medical Payments – Pays expenses for you and your passengers

You can purchase additional coverage for trailers, accessories, towing and damage caused by an uninsured boater.

Boat Insurance Does Not Cover

  • Normal wear and tear
  • Defective machinery or damage to machinery
  • Damage from mold, sharks and insects
  • Underage operators

Types of Coverage

There are two types of boat insurance coverage: actual cash value and agreed amount value.

Actual cash value pays the value of your boat at the time of the damage claim. If the boat is destroyed, the insurance company will determine the market value.

The agreed amount value coverage pays an amount agreed upon prior to the boat being destroyed. If the boat can be repaired, the insurer replaces old items for new ones without deducting for depreciation.

Discounts

Just like auto insurance, you can choose a deductible for theft, property damage and medical payments that will lower your premium. Some insurers will credit you if the boat is taken out of the water for the winter. You can also receive a discount if you have auto and homeowners insurance with the same company and if you took a boating safety course.

Additional Coverage

You can purchase additional coverage for mechanical breakdowns and salvage and to cover unattached equipment such as fishing gear that might get lost while out on the water or stolen. If you have a yacht or other large boat, your insurer may limit where you can venture. You can expand the area of navigation at an additional cost.

Contact Lois Drukman at Walter May Insurance at 781-740-5421 for more information about boat insurance.

 

 

So What About The Law [Radio Broadcast April 2017]

“So what about that law?” Radio Show

Sunday 10:30 AM WATD 95.9 FM

Lois Drukman, my insurance broker, and the show’s Health, Auto and Home Insurance expert co hosted. We discussed the law as it relates to insurance.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

 

If you are in need of an insurance agent or are looking to find out what your insurance options are for your home, auto, health or business please contact me.

Lois Drukman
Independent Insurance Broker
Walter J. May Insurance Agency Inc., Hingham, MA
Direct: 781-740-5421 Cell: 617-827-6848
Email: ldrukman@waltermayinsurance.com

Dangers of Texting While Driving

11 teenage drivers are killed each day as result of texting and driving.

There are more than 1.5 million vehicle crashes each year caused by distracted drivers using their cellphones that result in about 6,000 deaths and 500,000 injuries. Texting while driving accounts for about 25% of all vehicle crashes in this country and is the leading cause of death among teens – 11 teenage drivers are killed each day as result of texting and driving.

Many states, including Massachusetts, have laws banning texting while driving. Some states have outlawed the use of handheld cellphones while driving altogether. Despite the crackdown, using cellphones while driving – particularly texting or answering emails – is still a major problem.

Why is Texting and Driving Dangerous?

  • Texting while operating a vehicle increases the chance of a crash by 23 times
  • Instead of watching the road, the driver’s eyes are looking at messages
  • The driver’s mind is focused on reading or sending a message, not on driving
  • If you’re driving 55 mph while texting, your vehicle will travel the length of a football field without looking at the road
  • A study shows that while sending a text, the driver’s eyes are looking away from road for 5 seconds

Texting vs. Drunk Driving

An experiment by Car and Driver magazine in 2010 showed that texting and driving may actually be worse than driving while intoxicated.

In the experiment, drivers were required to stop at 70 mph and the stopping distance was measured. A legally drunk driver’s stopping distance increased by four feet over a sober driver. While reading an email, it took another driver an additional 36 feet to stop. Texting while driving added 70 feet to the stopping distance.

Why Do Drivers Text?

According to a survey, 23% of drivers said they text because they feel they may miss something important and 43% said they wanted to stay connected with friends and family.

There’s an App for That

There are several apps that allow the driver to keep both hands on the wheel and eyes on the road while still being able to receive a text.

DriveMode – From AT&T automatically kicks in when the vehicle is traveling at more than 25 mph and responds to all emails and texts by sending a message to the sender that the recipient is driving and will respond later.

DriveOff – For Android phones that disables apps and blocks incoming texts and calls when the vehicle is moving more than 10 mph.

DriveScribe – Blocks texts and calls when the vehicle is in motion. This app will also alert your teen driver if they are going too fast.

Although these apps greatly help cut down on distracted driving, the best thing to do is shut off the phone or put it in the trunk while driving. If you must text, respond to an email or make a call, pull into a parking lot or at the side of the road.

Distracted driving is not only risky, it can also be costly. Fines average $100 for texting and driving in many states. Alaska will fine a driver who texts and drive a whopping $10,000 – for the first offense.

Tips for the Best Elevator Pitch

One of the best networking strategies to make a quick connection with someone is the “elevator pitch” – a short, to-the-point introduction about your business, skills or interests. Following some tips for the best elevator pitch will help your pitch pack a punch.

The “elevator pitch” term comes from a scenario of meeting someone important in an elevator and you have only about 30 seconds to a minute – the average time of an elevator ride – to make an impression and communicate your brand to a potential client or employer.

“When you only have a few minutes of someone’s time, having a well-prepared, elevator pitch can make those few minutes count,” says the University of Denver’s career services. “A successful pitch is where the other person relaxes and says, ‘Interesting. Tell me more.’”

Condensing business goals, life skills or education in 60 seconds or less is not easy. The University of Denver offers these tips for the best elevator pitch:

  • Keep it Simple – Remember, the elevator pitch is a brief summary of who you are, what you or your business can do and why it matters to the potential client or employer. Keep these points in mind when crafting your pitch.
  • Words Matter – Use strong, action-packed words and speak in a confident, personable tone.
  • Be Relevant – List your accomplishments or those of your business that are both relevant and compelling to your contact. It’s not about you – it’s about what you can do for your contact.
  • Practice Makes Perfect – Practice your pitch, but don’t memorize it word for word. You want to sound natural and not rehearsed.
  • Make a Connection – End your pitch with a question to your audience to draw them into the conversation.

If you’re looking for a job, Forbes recommends that you clearly describe the field you are interested in, your skills and how you would benefit your potential employer’s business. Forbes says that a good pitch should answer three questions: Who are you? What do you do? What are you looking for?

Remember to tailor your elevator pitch to your audience, not you. While the people are listening to your pitch, they’re asking themselves, “What’s in it for me?” So, be sure you are focused on how you would benefit them.

This example from Forbes demonstrates a typical pitch from a job seeker to a potential employer: “I am a human resources professional with 10 years’ experience working for consumer products companies.”

Forbes says that the pitch would be more powerful if the person said, “I am a human resources professional with a strong track record in helping to identify and recruit top-level talent into management.”

Elevators pitches can be used as a follow up phone call, at a career fair or at a networking event. The pitches don’t always have to be verbal – they can be used in an email introduction.

Follow these tips for the best elevator pitch and keep ahead of the pack at your next networking or career fair event. Or, even a chance meeting in an elevator.