Compliment your Agent
I’m sending you this email to compliment your agent, Susan Strickland.
I spoke to Susan yesterday about uncertainty with payment on a claim in 2017. Susan responded very quickly and was able to locate a payment and provide us documentation.
Susan was very professional and pleasant to work with, she is an asset to your office.
What could possibly be difficult about working in the comfort of my own home each day? My commute is approximately five seconds down a hallway. I get to pick the radio station. And, snacks? They’re available any time I want, and may even include a glass of wine! Hey, it’s 5 o’clock somewhere! Before you decide to ditch the 9-to-5 cubicle and find a work-at-home position, I envy you. I really do. Why? Your only distraction is likely social media notifications beeping on your cell phone. I might be typing in my slippers right now, but making my home double as an office is no easy job.
When a spare bedroom serves as an office, there’s no boss to loom over your shoulder. You’re on your own to get things done on time and make the daily to-do list disappear. If you’re not a natural go-getter, and one who is up at the crack of dawn, you’ll need a little help staying on task.
I use Google Calendar to map out my day, week and month. I fill it with reminders of writing deadlines when to invoice clients, and schedule interview appointments so I don’t miss a thing. Sometimes I even place a stack of unpaid bills on my desk as a visual motivator to simply get things done.
So, you’re already highly organized, use a timer to limit your Facebook browsing, and have vowed to not take personal phone calls during your work hours. Good for you. Now it’s time to tackle the unforeseen distractions that will plague your home office.
The Fed-Ex man rings the doorbell which makes the dogs bark when I’m deep in thought. A water pipe has burst when I’ve been up against a deadline. And, my Internet connection has gone out on my busiest day of the month. To avoid these inevitable distractions, I leave my home office to do certain tasks. Try the library, a co-working office space or a coffee shop when you need to focus 100 percent on a project and can’t afford any distractions.
Yes, I mentioned having set work hours above. If you don’t plan out your work days ahead of time, do it now. Not only will this train your brain to stay on task and be productive during set hours, but it also gives you a more professional, organized appearance to those around you.
Treat your work-at-home job — whether you’re an employee or entrepreneur — with respect. If you work full-time, set aside 40 hours each week to complete work tasks. During that time, you’re not allowed to run personal errands or sit on the couch and watch a movie. Make generating income your priority.
Staying at home for work sounds great until you realize you’re always at home. I work at home, have hobbies at home, and spend time with my family in my home. Sometimes, I just need a change of scenery and to talk to someone other than my dogs and turtles during the day.
Make it a habit to schedule lunch dates with friends or colleagues. Join a gym and take a regular class each week to improve your health and make new friends. Go for walks before you start your day to get invigorated by the fresh air. Make it a point to get out of the house at least once a day, even if it’s only for an hour. Read Full Story
Every small business person dreams of the project that will catapult them to the next level in their career. For me, it was an assignment for Time magazine. Yes, that Time magazine. What I never anticipated was nearly burning down the set and making a claim on my small business insurance.
It was a warm, windy day. I carefully unloaded a car full of portable studio lighting equipment, reflectors and my power box to illuminate the portrait. I was thrilled to photograph a local award winner at our beautiful cancer treatment facility. The photograph would run as part of an advertisement in an upcoming issue of the magazine with my name proudly printed in the byline.
After setting up a place to create the portrait, I decided to give my equipment a quick test. I fired off some test shots and everything synced beautifully. Each strobe illuminated on cue. I was feeling confident.
A few minutes before go-time I tested my gear once more. I grabbed my camera, took a few test shots of the room and was pleased with the exposure. Everything was perfect. Then I smelled a faint burning odor. I looked around, wondering what was going on, and gasped when I saw my power box shrouded in a cloud of smoke.
I quickly unplugged everything and examined the box. There were no flames. But if there had been, they would have quickly reached the curtains and caused a terrible accident. After ensuring there was no fire, I alerted the cancer center staff and asked for help to air out the smoky room. As I opened doors to let fresh air flood the room, all I could think about was the expensive equipment I had just lost and how I would complete the assignment that was scheduled to start in mere minutes.
When I decided to take photography from hobby status to my full-time career, I talked to my insurance agent. She told me that once the value of my photography gear exceeded the maximum allowances for hobby equipment on my homeowner’s insurance policy, I would need to consider getting small business insurance.
My new policy covered everything I feared: liability and medical payments if someone should trip over my equipment, business interruption coverage if I were unable to work and coverage on my cameras and lenses. I knew even a small situation could quickly put me out of business. With a specific small business insurance policy behind my photography business, I could grow my client base with confidence. Read Full Story
In 2008, teen drivers were responsible for 6,428 fatalities on our nation’s roadways. In fact, Wayne K. Tully, Chief Executive Officer at National Driver Training, reports that the crash rate for 16-year-old drivers is nearly five times that for drivers over 25. This is a sobering statistic for the parents of new drivers.
Enrolling teens in a qualified driver’s education course may help parents ensure that their children stay safe while out on the road. However, some parents question whether these courses are really worth spending the time and money. If you are among these parents, clarification about the following driver’s ed misconceptions may help you come to a decision.
Depending on where you live, you may either believe that drivers’ education classes are mandatory or that they are optional for all teen drivers. The fact is that driver’s licensing requirements and teen restrictions vary significantly by state. Some states, such as Florida and Texas, require teens to complete a driver’s ed course before they receive their licenses; other states, such as Georgia and New Jersey, have no education requirements at all.
Just because the course is not required, however, does not mean that it’s not useful. In addition to learning important defensive driving techniques, students in these classes will be taught the many rules of the road, including things you may have overlooked mentioning if you taught your child to drive on your own. Knowledge of these rules can prevent both accidents and ticketing, which can make insurance rates for your teen skyrocket.
In 2009, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducted a study to evaluate the effectiveness of driver’s education courses. In their conclusion, they stated that “the notion that a traditional driver’s education course can by itself produce safer drivers is optimistic.” They also found that some driving classes did not teach students safe driving habits.
This perpetuated the myth that driver’s ed classes make teens less safe, which is not true. The main problem pointed out in the study was that these courses are not regulated and those that teach students only enough to allow them to pass their driver’s license exams are not sufficient for properly teaching teens to drive. They should be supplemented with behind-the-wheel instruction from parents.
The other problem occurred in states that had removed many of the restrictions placed on teens (such as the limitation on passengers or bans on night driving without an adult present) for those who had passed a driver’s education course. Because the first year that teens drive is the most dangerous, it was the removal of these restrictions that was making teens less safe, not driver’s ed classes.
Though driver’s education includes time spent behind the wheel with a certified driving instructor, it is different from a basic driving class.
Driving schools tend to focus almost exclusively on behind-the-wheel training and frequently teach students just enough to enable them to pass their licensing exam. Students may spend time driving on the course or on roadways they will need to drive for their tests, and they will practice the skills, such as parallel parking, that many states require they demonstrate. Very few of these driving schools spend much time teaching detailed safety and defensive driving techniques.
A qualified driver’s education course, on the other hand, will typically include about 30 hours of classroom time and six hours of actual driving time. Students are expected to practice the skills they learn on their own time with their parents or guardians. A driver’s education course will include much more information about rules of the road and safety.
Driver’s education courses are not federally regulated, though some states and local municipalities have their own standards. As such, some schools are much better than others. This was a point that was brought up in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study mentioned above.
In response to this problem, the NHTSA recently issued guidelines to be followed by driver’s education courses, but these guidelines are merely recommendations; they are not requirements. If states are looking for a program that works, they can turn to Oregon, which is frequently lauded by experts for its highly comprehensive program. Oregon’s program has had a significant impact on the reduction of teen-related traffic accidents.
For the most part, however, the programs offered in various states are all over the map. It’s best to try to find one that advertises its adherence to the NHTSA guidelines. Read Full Article
| May 17, 2018
You’ve found a home you love and you’re ready to stake your claim. For most buyers, purchasing a home can be confusing, intimidating, and a less-than-ideal way to spend several months, but don’t let off-putting factors like loans, inspections, and competitive offers keep you from movin’ on up.
It’s really not that scary once you’re armed with a little wisdom, an understanding of the process, and foolproof advice that will help you buy like a boss. That’s where we come in.
With some help from Peter Murray, an expert realtor for RE/MAX Plus, we outlined a sweet step-by-step guide that will take you from a daydreamer to a home-buying aficionado. So get ready to start packing and picking out paint colors.
Peter said that the whole process begins with finding a trustworthy realtor, not a real estate agent, and yes, there’s a difference. (Sorry, agents. Nothing personal.) Realtors have more requirements, additional training and education, and in general, more insight.
They’re also required to follow a Code of Ethics dictated by the National Association of Realtors, to ensure they’re following the best interests of their clients.
He added that realtors, unlike agents, will disclose all known fees up front, so you don’t end up with unhappy surprises. Agents may not offer the same courtesy and may end up tacking on some hidden fees in the end. Who wants that? Not you, right?
Peter broke down some realtor-selecting dos and don’ts for us.
“Your home will be a huge asset in your life. You want to make sure you find the absolute best, most knowledgeable and trustworthy realtor to help you with such an important process as buying your next home,” said Peter.
Unless you’re swimming in stacks of cash, chances are you’ll be needing a loan. Your realtor or your friends may have recommendations for a lender who could work with you, or your own bank may offer loans. Just like your realtor, it’s important to be comfortable with the lender.
“A good lender should care about your unique financial situation. If on paper, you can afford a $200,000 loan, but you know that realistically you can actually only afford a $100,000 loan, your lender should be sympathetic to that,” said Peter.
Do your research and shop around to determine what you know you can afford, and don’t let yourself be bullied into more than that. But what kind of credit score do you need to qualify for a loan, you may ask? Read Full Article
You’re a busy mom. Ferrying kids about. Dashing off to work. Not to mention finding the time to shop and walk the dog. Mind you, it helps that the dog is a good boy. He hops in the passenger seat like an angel and sits looking out the window. Your furry co-pilot. Do you buckle him up? No. It’s only a short trip.
And you’re not alone. According to a survey by TrustedChoice.com, out of a hundred people questioned, over 80% do not buckle up and use a doggy seat belt (or another method of restraint) while traveling with their canine companions.
“So what?” you ask. Unrestrained pets are a significant cause of accidents, and they are likely to suffer serious harm themselves and cause injury to other passengers.
Not convinced why you should buckle your pet? Here are some reasons why it may be in your best interest to invest in proper restraints:
Do you know that an adult Cocker Spaniel in a 35 mph crash is propelled forward with the force of one-and-a-half charging horses? That’s going to hurt both him and you when he hits you on the back of the head. Not only that, he could also impact the windshield and sustain serious injuries. A small Labrador in that same collision travels forward with a force equivalent to an Angus bull – dangerous for him and for you.
The statistics are frightening. Annual reports from the AAA consistently show “driver distraction” is responsible for around 6,000 fatalities each year. These are potentially preventable vehicle collisions caused by the driver being distracted for as little as two seconds. That’s right – those two seconds of wandering attention actually double your chances of being in a crash. The AAA also reports that 31% of drivers admit to being distracted by a pet in the car. Indeed, 24% admitted using a hand to physically restrain their dog while they braked.
Of course, a distraction doesn’t have to be major to be dangerous. It could be a cute look, the dog throwing up, or your furry friend climbing onto your lap for a cuddle. The point is that when traveling you need to know your pet is safely restrained in the back, so you can concentrate 100% on the road.
Unfortunately, if you think your pet is safe because you hold him securely on your lap – think again. In the event of a collision, your pet is in a precarious position. If the vehicle’s airbag deploys, the force of the inflation can kill the dog. Much like the manufacturer’s advice that children should not travel in the front because airbag deployment would harm them, the same goes for pets.
You crash. The dog is unharmed, but still, there are problems. Why?
One scenario is that your faithful friend sees his owner is hurt and tries to protect him. This can mean guarding you and becoming aggressive when strangers approach, which is not so great when they are paramedics who are trying to rescue you. Read Full Story
Just because it’s not summer, it doesn’t mean the end of safe boating practices
Many anglers and boaters take to the water year-round, even without the warm weather of leisurely summer days. But statistics show that, even during the off-season, boating accidents — some involving serious tragedies — will happen.
The U.S. Coast Guard and the National Safe Boating Council want to remind boaters that 85 percent of drowning victims in 2012 recreational boating accidents were not wearing a life jacket. “There’s no excuse not to wear a life jacket,” says Virgil Chambers, executive director for the council. “You can still have fun on the water while wearing a life jacket and boating responsibly.”
Along those lines, the North American Safe Boating Campaign has identified the top five excuses people offer for NOT wearing a life jacket. Here they are, with the campaign’s responses:
1. I have life jackets on board. Having life jackets on board the vessel is not enough. Accidents happen too fast to put on a stowed life jacket.
2. I’m a strong swimmer. Even a strong swimmer needs to wear a life jacket. During an emergency, clothing can become heavy or waterlogged while in the water.
3. It’s too hot and doesn’t look cool. Old-fashioned, bulky orange life jackets have been replaced with new styles, like inflatable life jackets that may resemble a pair of suspenders or a belt pack. These are much cooler in the warmer weather.
4. It gets in the way. There are life-jacket styles available for any recreational water activity – fishing, water sports, hunting, paddling and more. There are even styles for pets!
5. Nothing is going to happen to me. Face it, accidents happen. Boating can be a fun, safe and enjoyable activity, but when the “Wear It!” message is ignored, the consequences can be grim. Read Full Article
| December 12, 2014
Do people cross the road to avoid your canine companion? Do insurance agents hem and haw when it comes to bite liability coverage? If the answer is “Yes,” then chances are you own a bully breed dog. The trouble is that this (unjustified) prejudice runs more than fur deep and could cost you money.
Many cities and states have a legal requirement for dog owners to have liability insurance for their pet. Why does this matter? If your dog injures someone (accidentally or otherwise), you are liable for covering that person’s medical, surgical, and legal bills, plus any loss of earnings. With over 4.7 million dog bites occurring annually in the US, it’s not hard to understand why state laws require dog owners to make financial provisions to cover those costs.
Once upon a time you could be reasonably confident your homeowner’s insurance policy covered the liability if your dog injured someone, but times have changed. Many carriers now make a point of excluding certain breeds, typically bully breeds, which could leave you in the doghouse and financially liable if there is an unfortunate incident.
A survey by TrustedChoice.com found that nearly two-thirds of dog owners were unaware that it is usually necessary to tell your insurance company if you own a bully breed. Only one in five of our respondents had acted correctly and done this, which means that four-fifths of respondents may have invalid insurance policies.
Your bully may be the softest creature on the planet, he allows kittens to play on his back and licks away children’s tears, but in the eyes of the law (because of breed prejudice) none of that matters. If your dog knocks over a visitor in the rush to give the visitor a kiss and that person sustains an injury and sues you, the first question your insurance company will ask is “What breed is the dog?” If you haven’t declared his true identity, the company may be within their rights not to honor the claim.
But even when you do the right thing and tell an insurer at the outset that your dog is a bully breed, things may not go smoothly. Some insurers may refuse to take on breeds with a reputation for aggression or else may hike up their premiums.
So should you play truth or dare with dog bite liability coverage? No.
Withholding vital information will end with your tail between your legs. While you may believe you are covered, in the event of a claim your policy may become invalid and you may have no financial protection. Read Full Article