• 100 Deadliest Days: Hot Cars Can Kill

    by System | Oct 16, 2019

    100 Deadliest Days: Hot Cars Can Kill

    We all know the dangers our teens face when they take to the road and the delicate balance between giving our kids the freedom to make their own choices and enforcing rules to keep them safe while they are driving, but even in a parked vehicle, passengers face potential dangers.

    Feelin’ The Heat

    In just 10 minutes, a car can heat up by over 20 degrees; a deadly increase, even in cooler weather.  When sunlight penetrates glass windows and heat gets trapped, this causes extreme temperatures inside the vehicle.  Experts call it the “greenhouse effect.”

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a pleasant, 70 degrees Fahrenheit outside can result in the interior of a vehicle reaching over 115 degrees in less than an hour.  So, the next time you want to run in to the grocery store to pick up some last minute items for your summer barbecue, don’t wonder if it’s as unsafe as experts say it is – Know the facts!

    The most at-risk passengers are children, the elderly and animals as they are unable to regulate the heat in their bodies like healthy adults can.  Heatstroke can occur when the human body warms up to 104 degrees, so with just a few degrees higher, the body can start to shut down and organs begin to fail.

    For animals, heatstroke can occur between 99-103 degrees.

    While heatstroke can kill anyone, more than 70% of heatstroke deaths occur in children younger than 2 years old.

    In most cases, the child is accidentally left inside the vehicle or the child climbed into the car themselves, then got stuck or locked in.  Laws aimed at protecting children and pets left in cars vary across the country.  Enforcement of those laws can differ, too!

    Reduce the number of deaths from heatstroke by remembering to ACT.

    1. Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving your children alone in a car, not even for a minute. And make sure to keep your car locked when you’re not inside so kids don’t get in on their own.
    2. Create reminders. Keep a stuffed animal or other memento in your child’s car seat when it’s empty, and move it to the front seat as a visual reminder when your child is in the back seat. Or place and secure your phone, briefcase, or purse in the backseat when traveling with your child.
    3. Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911. Emergency personnel want you to call. They are trained to respond to these situations

    Leaving children unattended in a car for even a minute can be painful for them and can lead to an unintended outcome.  Vehicles heat up quickly and can become ovens that will even bake food.  A car-­oven is no place for a child or pet, as the heat can lead to heatstroke and death in less than an hour.

    So even though it is tempting to leave that baby or toddler in the car to finish out a nap, resist the thought.  And if you see a child stuck in a car alone, especially on a summer day, advocate for them.  Find out where they belong – and if you can’t locate a parent or guardian quickly, call 911.

    This information is intended for educational purposes only and is not legal advice and/or an authoritative guide

  • Want To Be More Energy Efficient? Clean Your Refrigerator Coils

    by System | Oct 16, 2019

    Want To Be More Energy Efficient? Clean Your Refrigerator Coils

    When it comes to making your home more energy efficient, cleaning your refrigerator coils or fan might be one of the cheapest things that you can do.  It can also help prevent future home insurance claims! 

    It doesn’t require much in the way of technical equipment or know-how; you just need to know where to look.  By keeping your refrigerator coils or fan clean, you can improve its energy efficiency each month.

    When two things of different temperatures are near each other, the hotter surface cools and the colder surface warms.  That transfer of heat is the principle behind refrigeration, where a motor and a pump push a gas refrigerant (such as Freon) through coils, where it cools down and becomes a liquid, soaking up heat in the fridge and freezer, and cooling everything inside.

    When your refrigerator coils are dirty with dust or pet hair, the refrigeration process is hindered, which can prevent the appliance from cooling properly and efficiently.  

    More than that, though, and because there are thermodynamics involved, cleaning your coils can help prevent potential fires and home insurance claims. 

    How to clean refrigerator coils

    To keep your fridge humming, you should clean the coils every six months to a year (more often if you have shedding pets).  It doesn’t take long, it’s easy and definitely something you shouldn’t avoid.

    1. Unplug the fridge and locate the coils, which live either at the bottom of the appliance or in back of it. Older models have exposed coils mounted on the back of the refrigerator. Newer models place the coils at the bottom behind a toe space panel or at the back behind a rear access panel.
    2. After you expose the coils, vacuum them with a crevice or upholstery tool to remove the biggest debris.Suck up dirt on, above and below the coils. While you're at it, vacuum the floor under and behind the fridge, too.
    3. Shove a duster or refrigerator coil brush (about $5 and designed for this exact purpose) between the coils, and clean the rest of the dust, hair and dirt still clinging to the coils. Position your vacuum under the brush to catch falling debris.
    4. Replace the panel and you're done—and can look forward to plenty of perfectly cooled groceries in your future.

    At Preferred Mutual, we encourage you to take the time to perform necessary maintenance on your appliances to ensure that dust, lint, pet hair, or any other flammable materials are cleared away. 

    Your home may be the biggest investment you ever make, so don’t get burned.  Get the protection you need and coverage you trust with Preferred Mutual Homeowner’s Insurance.  We’ll make you feel right at home – Now, that’s living assured.

  • The Do’s and Don’ts of Getting Pulled Over

    by System | Oct 16, 2019

    The Do’s and Don’ts of Getting Pulled Over

    Drivers new and old can forget the rules of the road.  Review these do’s and don’ts and be sure to share with your teen driver!

     

    While most people can operate normally during routine traffic stops, some of us get nervous and aren’t sure how to handle getting pulled over.  To help with this, Preferred Mutual has compiled information about what to do (or not do) when pulled over to help prepare you and your teen if there’s a next time – But don’t get pulled over just to practice these new skills!

     

    Do’s

    • Safely pull over when you see police car lights flashing behind you.

      There are instances when the lights aren’t for you.  However, the moment you see flashing lights or sirens, the best thing you can do is begin to pull over.  If you’re in a lane that isn’t close to the right shoulder of the road or close to a safe place to do so, slow down and use your signals to let the officer know you’re trying to pull over, and get to the right shoulder when you can.

      If the police are indeed pulling you over, they will try to get behind you to warn other vehicles that you’re about to stop. 

    • Turn your engine off, engage your hazard flashers, roll your window down and place your hands on the steering wheel.

      After you’ve come to a safe and complete stop, the best thing to do is shut off your engine, engage your hazard flashers and roll your window down.  This will help the officer feel safe during the stop. And yes, officers use caution when approaching a vehicle, so don’t be alarmed if they approach slowly.  Make sure to keep your hands on the steering wheel, as well.

    • Keep your license and vehicle information in a handy location.

      Often during a traffic stop, the officer will ask for your driver’s license, proof of insurance and vehicle registration.  Once you have safely pulled over, you may want to gather those documents in advance– then place your hands on the steering wheel or in plain sight of the officer taking your information.

    • If you’ve been pulled over at night, turn your interior lights on.

      This ensures the officer can see you and your passengers.  Be respectful, courteous and oblige them while you’re speaking with them, too.

      Don’ts

    • Do not get out of your vehicle unless they ask you to do so.

      Police officers face unknown dangers during every traffic stop, so to ensure a pleasant exchange (even if they do still issue a ticket or summons), remain seated and calm unless they specifically ask you to open the door and step out of the car.

    • Do not sound hostile.

    When talking to an officer, you may be nervous or upset about the traffic stop.  Generally, it is best to let the officer do the talking and be respectful when answering questions.

    Knowing what you should and shouldn’t do during a traffic stop will help make your interaction with the officer who pulled you over pleasant, but more importantly – safe.

    This information is intended for educational purposes only and is not legal advice and/or an authoritative guide.

     

     

     

  • Dealing With the Elements – A Safety Guide For Teen Drivers

    by System | Oct 16, 2019

    Dealing With the Elements – A Safety Guide For Teen Drivers

    It isn’t much of a joyride if you’re “white-knuckle” driving! Read on for the best strategies you can share with your teen driver when they are facing inclement weather on the road.

    Roads are dirty places.  Between tires stirring up gravel and engines dripping oil and other fluids, there could be significant build up on roads.  Then add severe weather like heavy rain and the roads are instantly slicker, as water brings those oils to the surface!

    Often, the best strategy for driving in bad weather is to avoid it entirely, but if your teen is already out and about and gets caught in severe conditions, these safe driving tips can certainly help them arrive to their destination safely!

    Rain

    • Turn Your Headlights On: Many states require drivers to keep their headlights on if windshield wipers are on, too!
    • Increase Your Following Distance: This will allow your teen more time to react in the event the car in front of them stops abruptly. Hydroplaning in the rain is often caused by too quick of a reaction, causing the car to lose traction of the road.
    • Safety Check: Make sure the car is prepared for seasonal conditions (check the battery, windshield wipers and washer fluid, tire pressure and tread, antifreeze, and headlights).
    • Use Caution Near Intersections and Merges: Just because the light is green or your teen has the right of way, the intersection might still not be cleared – keeping their head and eyes moving in search of potential hazards will minimize risk for all drivers on the road!
    • Stay in One Lane as Much as Possible: Avoid unnecessary lane changes (your teen shouldn’t be zipping in and out of traffic, passing people, etc.). Often, accidents occur when a vehicle is making quick movements in bad conditions.
    • Keep Hands on the Wheel: With two eyes on the road, their mind focused on driving, your teen should keep their hands on the wheel and refrain from fiddling with the radio, GPS, or cell phone.

    Scorching Sun and Fuzzy Fog

    • Wear UV Sunglasses: Polarized sunglasses can help reduce glare and improve visibility. The car’s pop-down visor can help, as well!
    • Slow Down: Whether it’s bright, foggy, or rainy -- the slower the speed of the vehicle, the easier it will be for your teen to recognize potential hazards and control, slow and stop the car.
    • High Beams Don’t Help in Fog: If your teen’s car has fog lights, use them! They’ll help your teen see the edges of the road close to the car in severe, dense fog. Fog can reduce visibility to less than ¼ mile ahead, making it hard to see brake lights, traffic lights or signs, or other people on the road.

    We can’t always be with them, but you can live assured that with Preferred Mutual auto coverage, you’re getting the best protection for your teen!  Come wind, rain, or fog, Preferred Mutual we’ll see you through it.

    This information is intended for educational purposes only and is not legal advice and/or an authoritative guide.

     

  • Swim Assured with Preferred Mutual: Pool Safety Tips

    by System | Oct 16, 2019

    Swim Assured with Preferred Mutual: Pool Safety Tips

    Whether it's a dip in the community or backyard pool, you can ensure that swimming is as safe as it is fun by following a few basic safety tips!

    Hard Facts about Swimming Safety

    • Among preventable injuries, drowning is the leading cause of death for children 1 – 4 years old.
    • Children 1 – 4 years old are more likely to drown in a pool.
    • Children 5 years and older are more likely to drown in natural water, such as ponds, lakes and rivers.
    • The risk of drowning in open water increases with age: The average 10-year-old, for example, is three times more likely to drown in open water than in a pool.

    For many families, summer vacations are just beginning!  Whether your family is traveling to a destination by the beach, pool, or even a cruise, everyone should follow these tips so that your summer vacation is safe and fun.

    Top Tips about Swimming Safety

    1. Watch your kids when they are in or around water, without being distracted. Keep young children within arm’s reach of an adult. Make sure older children swim with a partner every time.
    2. Teach children how to swim. Every child is different, so enroll children in swim lessons when they are ready. Consider their age, development and how often they are around water when deciding if they are ready for swim lessons.
    3. Make sure your kids learn these five water survival skills and that they are able to:
      1. step or jump into water over their heads and return to the surface.
      2. float or tread water for one minute.
      3. turn around in a full circle and find an exit.
      4. swim 25 yards to exit the water; and
      5. exit the water. If in a pool, be able to exit without using the ladder.
    4. Teach children that swimming in open water is not the same as swimming in a pool. They need to be aware of uneven surfaces, river currents, ocean undertow and changing weather.
    5. Know what to do in an emergency. Learning CPR and basic water rescue skills may help you save a child’s life.

    Have a conversation about water safety with children before you leave for vacation using the top 5 tips as your guide! Vigilance can mean the difference between fun in the sun and disaster.

    This information is intended for educational purposes only and is not legal advice and/or an authoritative guide.

     

  • Do I Need Insurance For a Car That’s in Storage?

    by System | Oct 16, 2019

    Do I Need Insurance For a Car That’s in Storage?

    Maybe you’re putting your car in storage for the summer while you spend the summer in your vacation home, or your teen driver is heading to college soon and won’t need it.  There are a number of reasons why you might not need to use your car for a time, and why you might consider dropping your insurance while you’re gone, but is it a smart thing to do?

    You may see short-term savings by not paying a monthly insurance premium for your stored car, but you should consider the drawbacks of canceling a policy and review options with your agent or insurance company to reduce your coverage instead!

    Drawbacks of Canceling Coverage

    Canceling your coverage creates a gap in your insurance history that may put you in a higher risk category for your insurer.  That may mean a higher premium when you decide to reinstate your policy down the road.

    Without insurance, you will also be solely responsible for anything that might happen to the vehicle during its time in storage.  If a tree were to fall on the garage or some other mishap were to take place, you’d be paying out of pocket to repair the car.

    Another drawback is the conditions on the car itself; a lease or financed vehicle, for instance, might require insurance as a condition of your loan, regardless of whether it is being driven or not.

    Car Storage Insurance Options

    If you have a car that will be kept in storage for 30 days or more, you may be able to suspend your liability and collision coverages, which are both driving-related and, instead, maintain only comprehensive coverage on the car in storage. 

    Comprehensive coverage helps pay to repair vehicle damage from things like theft, fire or hail — scenarios that are still possible while your car is in storage.

    You may notice a lower premium if you pared your policy down like this, because you'd only be paying for a single coverage.  In addition, you'd prevent yourself from having a lapse in coverage that could result in higher costs in the future.

    Keep in mind, however, that if you are financing the vehicle in storage, your auto lender may require both collision and comprehensive coverage until the loan is paid off.

    Some insurance companies may require your vehicle to be in storage for a minimum number of days before they will approve your request for the reduced coverage (for example, a 30-day minimum).  Don't take your car out even for a short ride while the liability coverage on your policy is suspended, because you wouldn't be covered if you had an accident or damaged someone's property while you were driving.

    Keep the car snug in its storage spot, and then simply set a reminder to revert to your former coverage levels when you expect to need the vehicle again!

    A good auto insurance policy not only protects your vehicle, it protects your lifestyle.  We call that living assured – where stability, devotion and personalized coverage meet you where you need us!  If you’re planning on storing a car, now or later, don’t leave yourself unprotected!  Contact an independent agent today to discuss your options for your new or existing Preferred Mutual auto policy!  

  • 5 Tips to Ensure Your Kids Stay Safe Around Fireworks

    by System | Oct 16, 2019

    5 Tips to Ensure Your Kids Stay Safe Around Fireworks

    On July 4th, we celebrate our nation’s independence by lighting up the sky with fireworks.  We all look forward to watching our childrens’ faces light up, too!  Don’t let the “ooohs” and “ahhhs” become “ooohs” and “noooos” and follow these tips for a safe and enjoyable celebration with your kids!

    The display of bangs, bursts and sparkles are always a highlight of summer evenings, especially as our nation celebrates Independence Day, but those evenings can go downhill pretty quickly.  Fireworks are beautiful, but dangerous.  In the month of July, an average of over 250 people visit the emergency room each day, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.  Here are a few ways to help keep your family safe.

    Leave Fireworks to the Pros.

    The best way to protect your family is to not use any fireworks at home. Instead, attend public fireworks displays and leave the lighting to the professionals.

    Find a Substitute for Sparklers.

    Little arms are too short to hold sparklers, which can heat up to 1,200 degrees. An alternative to sparklers can glow sticks. They can be just as fun, and they don’t burn at a temperature hot enough to melt glass!

    Take Necessary Precautions.

    If you do decide to light fireworks yourself, be extra careful. Make sure you’re not wearing loose clothing when handling matches or fireworks. Never use fireworks indoors.Outside, point them away from homes and people, and steer clear of brush, leaves, dry grass and flammable substances.

    Keep Your Distance.

    Make sure everyone is positioned far back from where fireworks are being lit. If a device does not go off, do not stand over it to investigate or re-light them.Instead, have a bucket of water nearby extinguish the dud!

    Be Prepared for Problem.

    Keep a fire extinguisher nearby and make sure you know how to operate it properly. When you’re finished with the fireworks, douse the remains with a bucket of water before disposing of them to avoid a trash fire.

    Don’t Mix Alcohol with Fireworks.

    While having a cold one watching the big show may seem like a natural fit, consider saving that drink to enjoy during a professional fireworks display!

    Generally, fireworks have inherent risks that can bring catastrophic results, including unintentional fires.  Fireworks, like cigarette butts and discarded matches, can smolder, even if they seem to be completely out.  According to the National Fire Protection Association, more than 16,000 reported fires are started by fireworks annually!

    Truly enjoy those summer nights and protect yourself and your family and get the protection you need within the budget you want.  Get the most out of your insurance with Preferred Mutual and live assured.

    This information is intended for educational purposes only and is not legal advice and/or an authoritative guide.

  • Teens and Texting: Cell Phone Apps Can Help Restrict Usage While Driving!

    by System | Oct 16, 2019

    Teens and Texting: Cell Phone Apps Can Help Restrict Usage While Driving!

    The U.S. Department of Transportation notes the use of cell phones while driving contributes to 1.6 million auto crashes each year.  Tell your teen they should text “TTYL” before they get behind the wheel.

    Drivers who read or compose texts while driving are 23% more likely to be involved in a car crash than other drivers.  During the 100 Deadliest Days, the days between Memorial Day and Labor Day, accidents involving teens increase 14% compared to the rest of the year, according to the American Automobile Association.  So while your teen is joyriding, as parents, we have to understand the facts and ensure our children do, too.  It is no wonder most of the United States have banned cell phone use while driving.  If you are unsure about the laws in your state, you can learn more about cell phone bans by clicking here.

    Parents’ Roles – Safety Starts With You!

    Parents should set very specific household rules with their teen drivers.  AAA offers a parent/teen driving contract, which you can find at www.TeenDriving.AAA.com to help guide the process.  The website also contains state-specific information on graduated driver licensing laws and passenger restrictions.

    Many states have passenger restrictions for teen drivers, and parents should educate themselves on these laws and stress compliance with their teens.

    If you are worried about your teen texting and driving, or to encourage your teen to make the right decisions when driving, there’s an app for that!

    • Cellcontrol: Designed for parents, Cellcontrol is a subscription-based service that features a device inserted under the dashboard and an accompanying app that blocks your teen from sending or receiving texts while driving.It also disables other phone features while the car is in motion, such as using email or accessing the camera. You’ll get a text or e-mail alert if Cellcontrol is deactivated or removed (For Android™ and iOS)
    • Safedrive: SafeDrive rewards you for not texting while driving. Simply open the app whenever you’re behind the wheel, and it will automatically start rewarding you with points you can use toward discounts at participating stores if you’re traveling at least 6 mph.The app tracks the number of points based on driving speed, time spent in traffic and distance traveled. (For Android and iOS)
    • Drivesafe.ly: DriveSafe.ly features a One Tap operation, and auto-on functionality that lets users seamlessly interact with their phone while driving. Drivesafe.ly announces callers by name, reads text messages and emails aloud, and can be set to auto-respond without the driver needing to touch the device. (For Android only)

    As traffic crashes remain the leading cause of death for teens and young adults, it is up to you as the parent to identify the safety issue cell phones cause and take action to address it!  Preferred Mutual encourages you to dig deeper into cell phone restriction for your teen driver by leading by example and researching these apps thoroughly before purchase or download.

    This information is intended for educational purposes only and is not legal advice and/or an authoritative guide.

  • Safe Boating: Know More, Save a Life

    by System | Oct 16, 2019

    Safe Boating: Know More, Save a Life

    Boat with confidence!  Preferred Mutual shares these tips on how to boat with caution.

    It takes more than a life jacket to save a life on the water.  It starts with choosing to boat safely. While you’re maximizing your enjoyment, choose to minimize risk and liability by making your loved ones your priority!

    Boat smart, boat safe, boat sober.

    Waterways are second only to highways when it comes to accidental deaths.  Many factors can impact an individual when underway.  Sun, wind, noise, motion of the water, and even dehydration can act as stressors that can negatively impact a person’s balance, vision, coordination, and judgement.  Add alcohol, and you have seriously magnified all of those things!

    Sober judgement should follow you from ship to shore.

    Boat with caution.

    File a float plan! A written float plan records where you are going and when you plan to return.  It can contain information that could prove useful if you don’t check in at your estimated time of return.  You can leave it with a responsible person prior to launching!

    Boat with knowledge

    Some states require a boating course when operating certain powerboats.  Make sure you have taken all of the courses that meet the state requirement by doing the research and taking those classes.

    Boat with wisdom.  

    Wear a life jacket! The pros in bass tournaments and whitewater thrill-seekers do it, so should you and your crew!  The majority of fatalities from mishaps like a capsized vessel or falling overboard can be avoided by simply wearing your life jacket at all times.

    Boat with preparedness.

    Having all the “right stuff” can make a big difference in an emergency situation: everything from tool kits, first aid kits, weather radio, cell phone or a marine radio, throw lines, charts or maps of the area, extra fuel, to extra drinking water, sunscreen and warm, dry clothing can aid in self-rescue or while you’re waiting for assistance!

    Boat with discretion.

    Be aware of the weather conditions.  Conditions can quickly change, so take extra caution.  Check the weather conditions for the area, keep an eye to the sky, and, if underway, use discretion and head for shore if conditions appear to be changing for the worse.

    Don’t cast your fate to the wind! For more information on boat safety, visit the National Safe Boating Council website.  Speak with an independent agent today about how Preferred Mutual can help you live assured.  With an extension to your homeowners policy, you are incorporating knowledge, wisdom, precaution, experience, discretion, and judgement every time you take to the open waters.

    This information is intended for educational purposes only and is not legal advice and/or an authoritative guide.

  • Don’t Be a Hard-Head, Unless You’re Talking About Your Helmet

    by System | Oct 16, 2019

    Don’t Be a Hard-Head, Unless You’re Talking About Your Helmet

    What’s the single most effective way to save lives while riding a motorcycle? Wearing the right helmet for you!

    The shape of your head won’t matter if you don’t wear a helmet.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), helmets save over 1500 lives a year!  Helmets reduce the risk of death by 37% and head injury by 69%.

    Traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of motorcycle crash deaths, so doing your research before buying gear is paramount.  Wearing a helmet that meets the Department of Transportation (DOT) standard (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218-FMVSS 218) can significantly increase rider safety.  It can also save your life. 

    Difference between compliant and non-compliant helmets

    Because helmet safety regulations vary from state to state, the Department of Transportation set minimum standards for all helmets sold in the United States for the intended purpose of wearing them on public roads, and approved helmets don the DOT sticker.

    Another organization that has rigid procedures for testing is the Snell Memorial Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that has been dedicated exclusively to head protection through scientific and medical research, standards development, helmet testing, and public education.  

    When looking for the right helmet, experts suggest looking for DOT and Snell approved helmets, as both organizations test and rate the following:

    • Impact – the shock-absorbing capacity of the helmet.
    • Penetration – the helmet's ability to withstand a blow from a sharp object.
    • Retention – the chin strap's ability to stay fastened without stretching or breaking.
    • Peripheral vision – the helmet must provide a minimum side vision of 105 degrees to each side. (Most people's usable peripheral vision is only about 90 degrees to each side.)

    To verify a helmet you already own or are considering for purchase, Helmetcheck.org complies with the U.S. Department of Transportation safety standard and allows consumers to find information on DOT-compliant helmets from any manufacturer voluntarily participating in the database.  It also has a tremendous repository of helmet-related resources, research and public service announcements!

  • National Homeownership Month: First-Time Homebuyer Checklist

    by System | Oct 16, 2019

    National Homeownership Month: First-Time Homebuyer Checklist

    With this map and Preferred Mutual by your side, there’s no way you can get lost in the early stages of buying a new house!

    Are you ready to switch from renting to owning your own home?  Or perhaps you’re interested in owning a vacation home or a condo! A first-time home buyer checklist can take some of the weight off of your shoulders!  When you know what to expect in the process before you begin attending open houses and spending hours on real estate websites flipping through photos, you will be better prepared to make an offer when you find the home of your dreams.

    Step 1: Find a real estate agent.

    This is paramount.  A mistake many first-time homebuyers make is beginning their search only by browsing listings.  A real estate agent is no cost to you as a buyer, so you’re getting free advice by using one.  Agents have access to a database of homes that are already publically on sale, as well as homes that may be going up for sale soon.  They can also send you lists of houses meeting specific criteria, too; including neighborhoods, within a certain distance from work or schools, homes that include a two-car garage, and much more.

    We suggest interviewing two or three agents before agreeing to work with one.  Recommendations from family and friends can help, too, but make sure you are the one making the decision on who to work with.

    Step 2: Talk to a mortgage lender.

    Some experts may recommend doing this prior to finding a real estate agent, but there is a significant benefit to talking to an agent first – Agents work with local lenders all the time and they know which ones are trustworthy and which aren’t.

    The goal of Step 2, though, is to get pre-approved for a home loan.  This will help you and your real-estate agent focus on homes within your price range, as well as approximate what interest rate you’d be getting should you find a home! A good mortgage lender will also be able to help you understand which type of loan is right for you.

    Be prepared to provide the lender with paperwork, including bank statements, pay stubs, W-2 forms, 1099 forms, and tax returns to start.   

    Step 3: Improve your credit, if needed.

    In order to be pre-approved, the lender will pull your credit score.  Based on poor, fair, good and best, your interest rate on your loan will be determined by that number.  Your credit score is calculated based on a number of factors, including debt payment history, debt-to-income ratios, and length of credit history.

    If you find that your credit score is subpar, you may need to postpone your house search for a few months in order to mend your credit.  Just keep in mind that your score won’t improve overnight.  However, it would certainly be worth taking time to fix if your interest rate would hurt what you can afford monthly. It is also important for you to keep or improve your credit if you’ve been pre-approved.  Nothing is officially until you’re ready to close on the home!

    Step 4: Determine where you want to live.

    Now that you’re pre-approved and you have an agent on your side you trust, you can begin to really focus your hunt.  Your agent can help find a neighborhood that meets your commuting needs, school requirements, proximity to family and friends, and overall lifestyle.  If you have children, your agent can help to find neighborhoods with similarly aged children, or if you prefer to live on a quiet street, your agent can help you find your solo oasis.

    Driving through neighborhoods during different times of the day and week can help give you an idea of how you might fit into it.  For instance, driving by a house you are interested in during the weekday when most people are at work or running errands might be different than driving through on a Friday or Saturday night.

    Step 5: Purchase the best insurance coverage that makes you feel right at home.

    You did it! You found the home of your dreams and you’re almost ready to close!  Before the keys are in your hand, most loan lenders require you to purchase a homeowners insurance policy before the lender will allow the closing to proceed.  Otherwise, the loan won’t be finalized and funded — and nobody wants that.  

    A good homeowner’s policy will protect your property and possessions, provide living expenses in case of an emergency, and keeps you and your family safe from personal liability.

    You can shop around, but you won’t find a better policy than with Preferred Mutual.  Every one of our homeowner’s policies is customized to meet your needs and your budget!  Now, that is living assured!

    This information is intended for educational purposes only and is not legal advice and/or an authoritative guide.

  • Let’s Go Fishing: Safety Tips For Fishing with Children

    by System | Oct 16, 2019

    Let’s Go Fishing: Safety Tips For Fishing with Children

    A family day on the water is what summer memories are made of.  Read on for a few kid-friendly fishing tips that will keep your youngsters safe and sound!

    There’s nothing like the joy of watching your child catch their first fish or discover a new species.  However, moments like this can be quickly overshadowed by injury.  To keep it fun and something your family will want to do together for years to come, follow these easy safety tips for fishing with children.

    USE PROTECTIVE EYEWEAR

    Fishing safety for kids begins with protective eyewear.  Polarized sunglasses or ideal for reducing eye strain and for spotting fish.  Sunglasses also provide invaluable protection from branches when walking around the lake or pond, or from lures being tossed about by others close by.  If you are night fishing, add a pair of clear glasses from a hardware store!

    USE BARBLESS HOOKS

    Should you or your child be snagged, barbless hooks are far easier to remove.  If you are using barbed hooks for your fishing trip, a serviceable option is to slightly bend them down.

    APPROPRIATE CLOTHING AND LIFE VESTS

    Whether you’re standing on the shore, rowing a boat or canoe, every child should be wearing a PFD (Personal Floatation Device)!  It’s also important that your child be wearing protective foot gear and clothing for the season!

    CLEARLY DEFINED RULES

    Rules don’t sound like fun, but running around a wet boat deck or jumping around in your boat is not as fun as it sounds, especially after they take a spill.  Teaching fishing skills (and etiquette) includes setting the rules ahead of time and having your little ones follow them throughout the trip.

    BRING SUPPLIES

    We don’t mean just your fishing pole and tackle box!  Bug spray, sunscreen, water and snacks will allow for longer periods of fun on the water.  Have the normal bandages, gauze pads, cleaning and disinfecting liquids and gels on hand, too!

    USE KID FRIENDLY TACKLE

    Some rod outfits are long and heavy, and younger kids simply can’t handle them very well.  Pack light-weight kids fishing gear that makes their fishing easier.  Their poles shouldn’t be longer than your child is tall to ensure they keep their balance and have better control.

    CARRY A WHISTLE

    You might feel like you’re refereeing a football team, but when kids stray from you (especially if they are in their own kayak, canoe or finding their own sweet fishing spot along the shore) a blast or two gets them back.

    If you love fishing, you are probably hoping your children will, too!  To ensure they’re remembering these moments for the fun and not the emergency trips to the hospital, implement these simple tips!

    With coverage that allows you to be present in the moment, a chance to shoot the breeze and connects you to the things that matter most, Preferred Mutual helps you take to the open waters with confidence.  Enjoy smooth sailing with superior coverage!  Talk to an independent agent today to add boat insurance to your existing auto, homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy!

    This information is intended for educational purposes only and is not legal advice and/or an authoritative guide.

  • The Road to Independence: Establishing Expectations for Your Teen Driver

    by System | Oct 16, 2019

    The Road to Independence: Establishing Expectations for Your Teen Driver

    By creating your own teen driving contract with your new driver, you are keeping respect and responsibility a mutual condition.

    Teens have an average of three accidents between the ages of 16 and 20.  During the 100 Deadliest Days, the days between Memorial Day and Labor Day, teens are four times as likely to get in an accident, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA), which means the safety of every other driver on the road is at risk, too.  As a parent, you can help instill some responsibilities by drawing up a “driving contract” before turning over the keys.

    A contract should address safety, good driving skills and intuition, rules of the road, as well as the ones you establish for your family, which can and should differ than standard defensive driving rules.

    Here are a few suggestions as you begin to draft your contract between you and your teen driver.

    Driving Rules

    1. Tell a parent where you are going, who will be the passengers, and when you will return.
    2. Call home if you will be more than ____ minutes late (establish a timeframe for your teen).
    3. Call home if any plans change while you’re out.
    4. Call home if you cannot get home safely and responsibly. A parent will arrange a safe ride home.
    5. Never drive when using alcohol or other drugs or ride in a car when others are using them.
    6. Always wear your seatbelt, whether a driver or passenger, and be sure all passengers are buckled up, as well.
    7. Do not drive aggressively.
    8. Do not drive distracted – put your phone away, limit radio use, set your GPS before you leave.
    9. Do not drive when overly tired, angry, or upset.
    10. Avoid driving in bad weather.

    These rules are in addition to following the rules of the road.  And remember, this is a contract between you and your teen driver.  It will be up to your teenager to follow the rules, but it will be your responsibility to enforce them.

    Consequences

    Depending upon the severity of the violation, your teen will likely see losing the freedom to drive as the most extreme punishment.  However, taking their car keys is the most effective consequence to breaking any of the rules established in your driving contract.  According to the AAA, rewarding positive driving behavior is also effective in helping keep your child safe. 

    Parental Involvement

    According to national research conducted by AAA, 80% of teens value the opinions of their parents (even if it doesn’t always seem like it). 

    • Evaluate your teen’s readiness. Talk to your teen about the responsibility they have to you, themselves and to other drivers.
    • Set a good example. Your teen has been watching you drive for years.You should be the epitome of the driver you want them to be.
    • Sign an agreement. Create the driving contract and put expectations and consequences in writing.
    • Set limits. Setting boundaries will help to inform your teen’s decisions in the future.
    • Stay involved. Just because they have their license and the keys, your involvement shouldn’t disappear.Maintain an open dialogue and restrict driving privileges if you need to.

    The best bet is to take a confident, assertive role in your teen’s driving experience.

    For more information and resources on how you and your teen can work together for the road ahead, visit KEYS2DRIVE.

  • 4 Driving Experiences Your Teen Needs

    by System | Oct 16, 2019

    4 Driving Experiences Your Teen Needs

    Graduated driving laws and driving curfews all help to give new drivers limits, but there’s no substitution for diverse time behind the wheel.

     Your teenager may diligently observe the local driving curfew for minors. He or she might always turn a smartphone off before buckling up and turning on the ignition.  But throw an unexpected ingredient into drive time — bumper-to-bumper traffic, inclement weather, a warning light, even fatigue — and suddenly safe driving for teens may get a whole lot trickier.

    Many experts agree that extra drive time and more experiences, some of them unplanned, help teens become well-rounded, independent drivers.  When you’re plotting out routes and times of day for your teen to practice driving, cover these four scenarios.

    Bad Weather

    Most teens probably learn textbook answers to questions about how precipitation affects roads.  They may know that during the first half hour of rain, water mixes with oil and dust before washing away, which can lead to slicker surfaces.  However, driving during less-than-ideal weather is necessary for still-learning drivers.  Make sure to ride along with your teen driver in the following weather-related scenarios:

    • windy days (gusts may push the car or toss debris on a roadway)
    • rainstorms
    • light snow
    • sleet

    Changes of the Sun

    As the sun angles up and down in the sky, two things happen to drivers.  First, the light can become a hazard as it shines directly into eyes.  Second, the hours closer to dawn and dusk have a reduced light level.  If you can, make sure to accompany your teen on drives around those dangerous times of day.

    Different Traffic and Road Types

    Bumper-to-bumper traffic, as well as the freeway, challenges even the most experienced driver in a much different way than a stretch of open, unencumbered road.  Ensure you accompany your teen driver on:

    • interstate or four-lane highways
    • one-way roads
    • two-way streets in calm residential areas
    • streets in more urban settings
    • rush hour

    New Passengers and Diverse Vehicles

    Your teen won’t always be driving with just you and only you as a sidekick, or only in your car.  Invite another person or two as third or fourth passengers (as state driving laws allow).  If your family owns more than one car, a new driver should gain experience in all of them.  That way they’ll be able to more readily adapt to a future (and drives) filled with family and friends.

    Safe Driving For Teens: A Checklist

    Use this list to help evaluate how well your teen is gathering driving knowledge.

    • Do they turn at the correct speed and only after signaling?
    • Is braking smooth?
    • Is acceleration steady up to safe speeds?
    • Is your teen attentive and mindful when approaching both controlled and uncontrolled intersections?
    • Can your teen smoothly change lanes and merge into traffic?
    • Does your teen correctly determine right-of-way?
    • Can your teen safely share the road with cyclists, pedestrians and buses (public or school)?

    Contrary to what we may think about the 100 Deadliest Days, inexperience behind the wheel, while it is a factor in teen deaths during the summer months, is not the leading cause of deaths of teen drivers and their passengers; teens who have been driving for a few years are impacting the statistics more and more every year.  After the fear of driving solo dissipates, teens can become complacent and take risks (whether it be for fun or because they are careless).

    By providing the opportunity to learn from your examples early, and from your explanations and experiences, you are giving your teen the confidence and knowledge they need to keep safe driving their first priority.

    At Preferred Mutual, we know safe driving is a priority for you, and that’s why it is a priority for us.  A good auto insurance policy not only protects your vehicle, it protects the ones you love.  And we’re committed to give you peace of mind with a host of coverage options for you and your family.

    Now, that’s driving and living assured.

    This information is intended for educational purposes only and is not legal advice and/or an authoritative guide.

     

     

  • Back to School: Teen Driver Safety

    by System | Oct 16, 2019

    Back to School: Teen Driver Safety

    The sun is taking longer to rise in the morning, and that means a new crowd of teen drivers is getting behind the wheel to head back to school.  Read on for tips on how your teen can protect themselves by being aware of the risks and taking steps to ensure they can safely operate their vehicle.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

    • 16-19-year-olds have the highest risk of being in a motor vehicle crash out of any age group
    • The risk of a crash is higher in the first months of receiving a license. The crash rate is three times higher for 16- to 17-year-olds than for 18- to 19-year-olds
    • 2,333 teens in the US ages 16-19 were killed in crashes in 2015; increasing every year since
    • 221,313 teens ages 16-19 were treated in emergency departments due to crashes in 2015; increasing every year since

    The Dangers of Back to School Driving

    There are many dangers associated with back-to-school driving.  Early school start times can mean that teens are tired behind the wheel.  The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that about 328,000 traffic crashes each year involve a drowsy or sleep-deprived driver.  Fatigued drivers are less alert than they need to be and unable to assess dangers properly.  Tired drivers also have decreased reaction times when emergencies occur.

    Additionally, social media distractions also result in dangerous accidents. Teens unaware of the dangers posed by smartphones assume that they can safely multitask, costing far too many lives.

    Finally, the general inexperience of teen drivers means that they need to take extra care to avoid accidents.

    Teen Driving Safety Tips

    Get enough sleep – According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), adolescents should get slightly over nine hours of sleep a night for maximized daytime alertness.  The AASM recommends that school boards start high school classes later so that teens can get enough sleep.  While the debate about high school start times continues, teens can avoid drowsy driving in the morning by getting at least nine hours of sleep each night.

    If you have a commuting college student in your home, suggest they choose later start times for classes if possible – Getting plenty of sleep is a great start for teen drivers, but it can also be helpful to opt for later class starting times.

    Remove distractions – Being distracted while operating a vehicle can be just as dangerous as drowsy driving.  One moment of distracted driving can result in a disastrous, fatal accident and distractions like electronic devices demand attention that drivers cannot spare.  Teens should completely avoid texting, phone calls, social media, or emails while driving.

    Leave early and don’t rush – The fear of being late to an important appointment or other commitment can tempt even the most experienced driver into speeding.  Students who are worried about being late to school may try to rush through traffic, speed, or take dangerous shortcuts for fear of the consequences.  It’s important for parents, caregivers and teachers to talk with teens about the importance of following road safety regulations even if they are running behind schedule.  All teen drivers should know to prioritize traffic laws over being late for school.  To help combat the threat of speeding, students should carefully time their path to school and leave early every morning.  They should anticipate traffic and also give themselves extra time in case of a serious jam or accident.

    Have a to-do list in case of an accident – In the unfortunate event of an accident, teens should know how to handle the situation. It’s a good idea to keep a to-do list for after a crash in the car, along with insurance cards and other important safety information:

    1. Stay safe! Assess the situation and see if it would be dangerous for you to get out of your car.
    2. Move your car out of traffic if it would not be a risk to yourself. Turn on hazard lights to alert other drivers.
    3. Determine if you or anyone else involved in the crash has sustained any injuries.
    4. Call 911 to report the accident, and if necessary, request emergency assistance. Follow any instructions given by the operator.
    5. Call your insurance company to report the incident and request a tow truck for your vehicle. Follow any further instructions from your agent.
    6. Write down the names and the car insurance information from everyone involved in the crash. Provide your name and insurance information to the police and other drivers.
    7. If you can, take photos with a phone of the crash scene.
    8. Document everything. Write down the names of the police officers, insurance agents, time and date, weather and traffic conditions, a description of the accident, a description of any injuries, the make/model/year of the vehicles involved, and the registration and license plate number of the vehicles involved. This information will be used to fill out the crash report.

    It’s worth taking the time to teach your teens the importance of driving to school safely, because they are three times more likely to be in a fatal accident in the beginning of the school year.  Despite these startling statistics, you might find that some back to school driving tips are just what you need to ensure the safety of your teen.  Preferred Mutual encourages you to live assured, and share these tips with your family.  Have a safe and enjoyable school year!

    This information is intended for educational purposes only and is not legal advice and/or an authoritative guide.
  • Protect Your Assets: Fire Prevention for Business Owners

    by System | Oct 16, 2019

    Protect Your Assets: Fire Prevention for Business Owners

    It’s easy to fall into the daily grind and forget about fire safety!  Follow these tips to keep fire safety top of mind for you and your employees!

    When it comes to protecting your assets, you’re all business, and so are we! At Preferred Mutual, we know all too well how a fire can disrupt your daily operations, and result in property and equipment loss; and worse, how dangerous a fire is to your people.

    According to National Fire Prevention Association, prevention is the best way to avoid fires. This means that in addition to reducing your office’s risk, your priority needs to be educating your employees on identifying risks!

    1. Identify office issues before they lead to a fire is the best, most proactive approach.Train employees to be able to identify potential fire hazards. Employees need to know that it is everyone’s responsibility to keep the office environment as safe as possible. They should be able to notice something that could be dangerous such as overloaded electrical sockets. Not only is identification important, but they must also know how to report these potential hazards quickly and effectively so that the problem can be solved before it leads to a dangerous situation.
    2. Educate employees about how to respond in the event of an emergency.All emergency exits and routes should be clearly posted in every room of your office. Also, make sure employees know where the closest exit is. Practice fire drills yearly to ensure that all individuals know how to exit and remain calm in case of a real fire.Fire extinguishers are one of the most reliable ways to put out fires in the workplace.  All workplaces should have equipment for putting out fires.  You may want to train workers in general fire extinguisher use to comply with OSHA standards.   OSHA states that if employers expect workers to use the fire extinguishers themselves, hands-on training must be provided.
    3. Check the fire alarms and smoke detectors regularly. Often smoke detectors will run out of batteries. If the detector does not have enough power to signal an alarm, fires could go unnoticed until it is too late.
    4. If an employee identifies an issue, fix it! Never assume the issue has been corrected right away. Check to make sure the job was done right.
    5. Make sure fire exits are never blocked in an office.That extra door that no one ever uses may seem like a great place for extra storage, however this is a huge risk! While most times you will never need this door, the one time you do need access will be in an emergency, and if the door is blocked off and people cannot access it, their lives are potentially at risk. Keep all doors clear so that they can easily be opened as needed.

    You can never be too cautious when it comes to preventing fires in your office or workplace!  After all, doing so helps to protect your employees, and protects what you’ve worked so hard to build.  Talk to your independent agent today to ensure you have the best coverage so you can get back to business quickly!

    This information is intended for educational purposes only and is not legal advice and/or an authoritative guide.
  • Commercial Umbrella Insurance: Is it Right for Your Business?

    by System | Oct 16, 2019

    Commercial Umbrella Insurance: Is it Right for Your Business?

    Your current insurance will protect your company against routine misfortunes – but you may not be getting the full protection you need!

    A commercial umbrella insurance policy protects you against excess liability judgments for loss, injury or even death.  Preferred Mutual understands that you have enough to worry about as a business owner.  Do any of these scenarios sound like they could happen to you?

    • A tenant suffered burns to 60% of his body when the gas fireplace exploded in the apartment he leased from the defendants. Plaintiff Verdict: $3,290,101
    • Plaintiff electrician came into contact with a live wire at a construction site and suffered traumatic brain injury, determined to be the result of the electrical contractor's negligence. Settlement: $2,900,000
    • An 11-year old died from an auto accident at a controlled intersection going into a neighborhood constructed by the defendant development company. Plaintiff Verdict:$10,000,000
    • Defendant pharmacy incorrectly filled a low-dose steroid prescription with a higher dose, resulting in diabetes, glaucoma and other serious injuries to a 43-year old. Plaintiff Verdict:$2,700,000
    • A deliveryman suffered herniated discs requiring surgery and continuing medical treatment when he slipped and fell down the stairs of the defendant restaurant. Plaintiff Verdict:$1,763,000

    Perhaps these scenarios seem far-fetched, but Preferred Mutual urges you to take the time to determine what types of claims are made in your industry and what awards are generally given in a lawsuit.  In many cases, an umbrella policy helps manage the higher-end damage awards and protects the assets and financial solvency of your business in the event of a large claim and award.

    Don’t get caught in the rain!

    Talk with your Preferred Mutual independent agent about Commercial Umbrella Insurance, and the liability and insurance needs of your business, so you can determine the right coverage for you and your business.

  • Surprising Risks for Teen Passengers

    by System | Oct 16, 2019

    Surprising Risks for Teen Passengers

    Passenger risk is real.  More than half of teen car crash fatalities weren’t the drivers.  Read on for tips that can help you teach your teens to be safety-minded passengers!

    When teens start driving, chances are their friends are learning to drive, too – which means, at some point, your teen will likely become a passenger in a car driven by someone without much experience.  And peer passengers are yet another distraction teen drivers just don’t have enough experience to manage effectively!

    Teen passengers can lower this risk by limiting distractions, respecting the driver and always wearing their seat belt.  Here are six more tips to help you and your teen understand the dangers of being a passenger in a vehicle driven by a peer.

    Talk about how to be a safe passenger. 

    Distracted driving is a major cause of crashes, and passenger distractions are particularly dangers for new drivers.  Talk to your teen about helpful passenger behaviors, such as reading directions when asked, respecting the driver by staying buckled in your seat and chatting or playing music too loud.

    Insist on seat belts.

    Most adolescent passengers who die in crashes aren’t wearing seat belts.  Make sure your teen understands that by buckling up, they are helping protect their friends’ lives, as well as their own.  In a crash, an unrestrained body can hurt others in the car, too!

    Don’t let your teen ride with a driver who has less than a year of experience.

    Most teen crashes are a result of “rookie” mistakes.  Even the most mature teen needs time to gain driving experience through adult-supervised driving.  Make sure you are aware of the experiences of your teen’s friends!

    Pay attention.

    To help your teen make good safety decisions, keep the lines of communication open.  Know where they are going, why, with who, and discuss how they will get there and when they’ll be home.  Provide alternatives, like rides, to allow them to avoid unsafe driving situations.

    Create a code word. 

    You and your teen should establish a code word, just in case they need to get out of an unsafe situation.  With this agreed-upon code word, you are promising that upon reading or hearing this code word, you will be pick them up right away; no matter what the circumstances.

    Lead by example.

    Always wear your seat belt.  Avoid talking or texting on your cell phone while driving.  Follow the rules of the road; don’t speed, stop fully at stop signs, etc.

    With proper planning, mutual respect and prioritizing safety, your teen can help reduce the startling statistics of fatal teen crashes as passengers.

    This information is intended for educational purposes only and is not legal advice and/or an authoritative guide.

     

  • Seasonal Home Maintenance Tips

    by System | Oct 16, 2019

    Seasonal Home Maintenance Tips

    Fall is a great time for some essential home maintenance. As the leaves begin to change and the days get shorter, make use of the next few months to prepare for when winter arrives.

    Before outdoor work becomes too difficult, and in the Northeast, that can happen pretty quickly, take the time this fall to boost energy efficiency throughout your home, and prevent damage from winter storms with proper outside maintenance!

    Outdoor Care

    Care for trees and shrubs.

    If you have trees on your property, consider hiring an arborist to care for them – these pros can spot signs of poor health early on to prevent tree loss, and know how to prune properly to avoid falling limbs in winter storms!

    Rake lawn debris.

    Leaves might look beautiful falling from the trees and blanketing the ground, but cleaning them up before the heavy snow will help your lawn come back to life in the spring.

    Clean gutters and downspouts.

    Once most of the leaves have fallen, cleaning out your gutters and downspouts can help to eliminate water damage to your roof and siding.  Leaving clogged gutters during rainstorms can cause water to pool!

    Make essential exterior repairs.

    Take a walk around your property, looking for signs of damage to the roof, siding and foundation, as well as driveways and stairways.  If you spot anything that needs repair, schedule it before winter weather arrives!

    Shut off exterior faucets and store hoses.

    In a few months, remember to protect your pipes from freezing temperatures by shutting off water to exterior faucets before the weather dips below freezing!  Drain the hoses and store them indoors.

    Indoor Care

    Check equipment and devices.

    Be sure to change the air filter in your furnace and check its efficiency before the cold weather begins. Call in an HVAC contractor to test the heating output and give the system a tune-up. Stock up on several air filters for the winter, and change them every month. If you don't have a programmable thermostat, purchase one for the system to help lower your energy costs.

    Add weather-stripping.

    Weather-stripping applied around the frames of windows and doors help to boost winter warmth and cut energy costs.  Add door sweeps to the base of drafty doors to keep heat in and cold air out.

    Check the fireplace and chimney.

    Most chimney sweeps recommend an annual sweeping, but depending on how often you use the fireplace, you might be able to wait on a full sweep. However, if you will be using the fireplace often, call a chimney sweep for an inspection.

    Remember to have your older, seasoned firewood ready for use after sitting for the spring and summer. It's recommended to keep the firewood at least 30 feet from the house and covered. Seasoned wood is best for fires, as it burns cleaner and longer.

    Deep-clean the kitchen.

    Take a day to tackle some of the more labor-intensive cleaning tasks, and keep your kitchen working efficiently and looking great:

    • Degrease the range hood and filter
    • Clean the oven
    • Vacuum the refrigerator coils
    • Scrub tile grout
    • Clean light fixtures
    • Wash the walls and backsplash
    • Wash the garbage can and recycling bins
    • Clean small appliances

    It’s never too early to start getting your home ready for winter. Cold weather, snow and ice can be really hard on your house. It’s important to be proactive about taking care of your home before the winter weather gets too brutal! That’s living assured.

    This information is intended for educational purposes only and is not legal advice and/or an authoritative guide.
  • 8 Post-Hurricane Safety Tips

    by System | Oct 16, 2019

    8 Post-Hurricane Safety Tips

    Brush up on these hurricane safety tips to ensure you know what to do, and most importantly, what not to do – to keep your family and home protected.

    The Northeast is in the unenviable position of receiving various hurricane-related threats anytime between June and November each year: coastal inundation due to the storm surge, widespread wind damage and widespread inland small stream and river flooding due to torrential rains.

    If a hurricane or tornado has just hit your area, it’s a good idea to brush up on these key safety do’s and don’ts!

    DON'T Return home if you evacuated for a hurricane until authorities have declared it safe to do so.  If authorities won't let you return home and you need a place to stay, text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area.

    DO Carefully inspect any home or building before entering, and use extreme caution.  Wear protective gear like goggles, work gloves, sturdy boots, and breathing masks to avoid exposure to harmful materials like lead, asbestos, cement, or mold.

    DON'T Enter a building if it has visible structural or fire damage from a tornado or hurricane, or one that smells like gas, has nearby downed power lines, or is flooded.  Floodwater can be especially dangerous as it can be contaminated by gas, oil, and raw sewage, or be electrically charged from downed power lines.

    DO Turn on a battery-powered flashlight before entering a damaged home or building that was evacuated.  An electrical spark made inside an enclosed space could ignite gas if a leak is present.

    DON'T Drive through floodwater.  You should drive around water whenever possible because it may be deeper than you think, or contain dangerous objects you can't see.  If you can't avoid the water, turn around and find an alternate route.

    DO Take photographs of any and all damage to your home, property, cars and other personal possessions.

    DON'T Use a generator indoors.  They omit deadly levels of carbon monoxide, and should always be kept a safe distance away from windows, vents, or doors.

    DO CONTACT Preferred Mutual as soon as it's safe to evaluate the situation.  If an insurance adjuster needs to come to your property to assess the damage and determine the size of your settlement, have your home inventory handy.  That way, you can easily expedite the claims process and reference your possessions in case things are damaged or displaced.

    This information is intended for educational purposes only and is not legal advice and/or an authoritative guide.
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