Stop Falling Trees Before They Happen

Large tree fallen over in a yard. The roots of the tree are exposed as the full tree fell.

Trees can cause damage to both people and property. When a storm blows through, high winds and heavy rains that saturate the soil may increase the likelihood of a tree falling either during the storm or after. Likewise, in the winter months, heavy snow and ice can have a similar effect. As a homeowner, you need to be vigilant about assessing the strength of the trees in your yard.

Here are some simple steps that you can take to stop a falling tree before it happens.

  1. Inspect your trees regularly. Frequent falling branches from a particular tree may indicate a problem. Mushrooms, cracks, splits, or rot at the base of a tree might indicate that it needs to be removed. Wood shavings and small holes around the base of the tree are warning signs of termite infestation. Termites live just under the soil, so dig around the tree roots and look for large winged ants.
  2. Inspect your trees after a storm. Are there any noticeable changes such as wear, cuts, or peeling to the branches, bark, or roots? Are parts of the root system newly exposed? Dead foliage may indicate damage to a particular branch. Does the tree lean more than it did prior to the storm? If you have concerns, consult with an arborist to help determine which trees, if any, have the potential to fall.
  3. Complete recommended tree maintenance. Pruning dead branches will contribute to the overall health of trees. The arborist may recommend removing limbs on a tree that is leaning to distribute the weight more evenly or stabilizing the tree by bracing it. Sometimes a cable is used to support weak branches.

Spend a little time assessing the health of the trees in your yard to identify potential threats. You might just prevent a disaster before it occurs.

Summer Home Maintenance Checklist

Many people are spending more time at home due to the pandemic. Take advantage of the warm weather to check your property for damage and make necessary home repairs before they become a bigger problem.

  1. Inspect the roof – You don’t need to climb a ladder to do this. Use binoculars or a camera with a telephoto lens to look for loose, missing, bald, or warped shingles. The presence of moss and lichen on shingles should be addressed because both attract and hold water on the roof surface. Consider hiring a professional for a more complete inspection. Identifying and correcting issues early can prevent much larger problems down the line such as roof leaks, structural damage, mold growth, etc. Learn more here.
  2. Clean and repair gutters and downspouts – Debris can clog the downspouts leading to leaks and rotting of adjacent wood trim. Acorns can attract unwanted rodents into the attic where they can do damage. Be sure that water is directed away from the foundation of the house to prevent it from collecting in basements and contributing to mold growth. Find more info here.
  3. Check for signs of termites – These winged insects that look like flying white ants appear in warmer weather. They can be observed flying in swarms especially at night when they are attracted to light. Holes in the woodwork or papery, hollow sounding wood are a sure sign. You might also see wings that have been shed, narrow mud tubes, or small black termite droppings deposited adjacent to their holes. Read more here.
  4. Check the foundation – Foundational areas should be cleared of organic debris and graded to slope away from the house to prevent standing water. Plantings should be spaced away from the foundation based on how much space the plant will take up at maturity. They should be spaced apart to allow for good airflow and ventilation to adjacent building materials. Mulching plantings helps to maintain even ground moisture. If you use edging, remember to provide drainage openings large enough to prevent clogging by debris. Keep 3-4 inches of the foundation exposed. Find out more here.

Give your home a thorough check. Identifying and addressing issues now could prevent the need for costly repairs later.

Don’t Make These Common Mistakes

What is one of the biggest mistakes buyers make when trying to save on auto insurance? Selecting an insurance company by price alone.

Sometimes customers receive a lower quote from a “big-box” company. What these companies often don’t tell you is that they cut your coverage in order to lower the quote. And that can have big financial consequences if you have a claim.

Some of these larger companies offer a low teaser rate the first term of 6 months or a year, only to raise the premium substantially at the end of the term.

And the customer service you receive from the big-box companies may not be what you expect. Think customer service doesn’t matter? One claim that’s handled badly might change your mind.

While the big-box companies will write you a policy, they may not take the time to review your individual circumstances to identify potential gaps in coverage that might expose you to risk.

Our agency represents multiple companies so we can provide you with the best coverage from financially solid and A-rated companies at the lowest price. We take a comprehensive look at your personal insurance needs to ensure there are no gaps in coverage. Your account will be assigned to one account representative who will respond promptly to resolve your issues and is available by email, phone, or in person if you prefer. Our customer service is second to none!

Beware next time you receive a quote from a big-box company.
You might get less than you bargained for!

Office Update: Appointment Availability Beginning June 1st

Our office will be open beginning on Monday, June 1st by APPOINTMENT ONLY. Please call the office at 413-598-8304 if you need to make an appointment. We will have a limited number of staff in the office.

Our hours are Monday – Thursday 9:00am to 5:00pm and Friday 8:00am to 4:00pm.

In keeping with the requirements of the Chicopee Health Dept, all customers will be required to wear a mask or face covering and maintain social distancing when in the office. Our staff will wear masks and the office will be sanitized periodically for the safety of everyone.

As a reminder, please continue to mail your insurance payments directly to the insurance company. We will not accept payments in the office at this time.

Our commitment to you remains certain as we go through these challenging times. Please feel free to call our office if you have questions.

Best Regards,

Paul J. Shea, CIC, CPCU

Stay At Home Auto Premium Refund

Policyholders are doing their part to limit the spread of COVID-19 by staying at home.  This is leading to lower auto usage and resulting in fewer auto claims.  In response, and to ease some of the financial burden many customers are experiencing, we are pleased to announce that all of our carriers have chosen to issue a “Stay at Home Auto Premium Refund”.  Insurance companies will return a small portion of auto premiums for the months of April and May to our voluntary personal auto policyholders in Massachusetts, subject to regulatory approval.

Our agency will keep you informed when this credit is approved by the insurance department.  Our commitment to you remains certain as we endure these challenging times.

Regards,
Paul J. Shea CPCU, CIC

Here’s what you need to know about hands-free driving

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The Hands-Free Driving Law went into effect February 23rd.
Here’s what you need to know…

  • Use of ANY electronic device is prohibited while operating a motor vehicle, unless in hands-free mode.
  • Drivers under 18 are not allowed to use any electronic devices, even in hands-free mode. 
  • Penalties include: fines up to $500, insurance surcharges, and mandatory completion of distracted driving education program.

Want to learn more? Click here to view more details from the MA Registry of Motor Vehicles.

ARE YOU GETTING ALL THE DISCOUNTS AVAILABLE TO YOU?

save

Check with your agent to see if you qualify!

ACCOUNT CREDIT – Save 15-25% when you insure both your auto & home with our agency
PAID IN FULL – Up to 5% when your annual premium is paid in full
GO GREEN – Up to 3% when you make electronic payments and receive your policy online
GOOD STUDENT – 10% if the youthful driver meets certain grade qualifications
STUDENT AWAY FROM HOME – 10-15% off your premium for youthful drivers that are away from home and meet specific qualifications
MULTI-CAR DISCOUNT – up to 8% per household with two or more private passenger vehicles

Discounts may vary according to the companies we represent and the state in which you are insured.

Holiday Safety Tips

As the holiday’s approach, keep your family and home safe by following these tips.

Decorations christmas-tree-3-480x463

  • Keep your Christmas tree watered and away from heat sources.
  • Be sure you are using indoor lights indoors and outdoor lights outdoors.
  • Never connect more than 3 strands of lights together.
  • Use the proper ladder when hanging decorations.
  • Keep candles away from the Christmas tree, curtains, and other flammable items.
  • Decorating the fireplace mantle is festive, but be sure to avoid fire hazard if the fireplace is in use.
  • Keep glass ornaments and plants like holly, poinsettia, and mistletoe out of reach of children and pets.

Food 

  • Use food thermometers, defrost food safely in the fridge, and refrigerate leftovers promptly.
  • Turn pot handles so they do not hang over the edge of the stove or use the back burner.
  • Be in the kitchen if food is cooking. Do not leave it unattended.

Presents 

  • Keep batteries away from small children.
  • Check the recommended age on toys and games and be sure there aren’t any choking hazards or other small pieces.
  • Watching pets play with wrapping paper is fun but be sure they do not eat any paper or ribbon.

Have a safe and happy holiday season! 

National Safety Council – Electrical Safety Foundation – SafeKids.org

 

Halloween Safety

halloween-safety-tips

Trick or Treaters

  • Always cross at crosswalks and use sidewalks
  • Carry a flashlight
  • Make sure your costume doesn’t block vision or cause you to trip
  • Trick or treat in a group or with an adult
  • Wait until parents check the candy to eat any treats

Halloween Drivers

  • Drive slowly in residential areas
  • Exit driveways and parking spots slowly and carefully be-safe
  • Be sure to use your headlights
  • Be aware of children around you, they may not pay attention when crossing the street.

Pumpkins

  • Don’t let small children carve pumpkins, consider painting or letting them draw a face for an adult to carve
  • Glowsticks make great alternatives to light pumpkins rather than candles.
  • If you use a candle be sure the pumpkin is left on a sturdy surface, away from flammable objects.

Pets

  • Keep candy away from pets – especially chocolate
  • Make sure pets are wearing ID tags in case they get out
  • Consider creating a calm room for pets away from the door and trick or treaters

Most Importantly…Have fun! 

ASPCA Halloween Safety  – Safe Kids Worldwide Halloween Safety – AAA Halloween Safety  – American Academy of Pediatrics Halloween Safety Tips 2016

 

Why Should I Schedule Jewelry?

engagementring

So you got a new piece of jewelry…do you know what kind of coverage your insurance provides? A basic policy will provide you with some coverage but the best way to protect your jewelry is to schedule it on your policy. 

Why should I schedule my jewelry?

  • Your house or tenant’s insurance has basic coverage for jewelry, however there is usually a limit of $1,000 on a basic policy
  • In addition to having a lower limit, a basic policy only covers you for theft of jewelry. If you lose a stone or lose the piece in general, you don’t have coverage.
  • Another benefit to scheduling your jewelry is that there is no deductible in the case of a loss. If it is not scheduled any claims would be subject to the deductible. 

I want to schedule my jewelry, what do I do now?

Get appraisals for the pieces you want to add to your policy and contact our office!

 

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