TV Tip Overs: Parents of small children take note!

Most parents go to great lengths to childproof their homes, but there’s one danger that is all too often overlooked. According to Safe Kids, “Every 3 weeks a child dies from a television tipping over. Over the past 10 years, a child visited the emergency room every 45 minutes because of a TV tipping over.”

This is an easy thing to fix once parents are alert to the danger. Check out this short video and the infographic below for more info on how to prevent this tragedy. There’s also more information tip-over prevention at Safe Kids.


Supporting local philanthropy: Belle of the Ball

z-belle-of-the-ballAs part of our Caring Company initiative, we recognize local clients and Renaissance Alliance members who give back to the New England community. There’s no better embodiment of generosity of spirit than Anton’s Cleaners, currently embarked on their 11th Annual Belle of the Ball, which is collecting prom gowns now through April 5, 2015.

Belle of the Ball cleans and distributes prom dresses and provides related accessories at no charge to high school junior and senior girls who could not otherwise afford to attend their school’s prom. Unlike other prom gown collection drives, this program culminates with a day-long boutique where deserving girls are invited for a day of personal shopping and pampering. The program has grown to hosting more than 400 young ladies for an indulgent day of prom “shopping,” beauty tips, and prizes.

Here are places that you can donate a dress, along with other ways you can support Belle of the Ball.

Behind the scenes: the film industry is risky business

Insuring FilmsWhen the Academy Awards take place this weekend, it’s unlikely that any of the winning actors or producers will be thanking their insurers from the podium – yet insurance is a vital behind-the-scenes component in the business of making successful films. It’s one of the key factors in ensuring that “the show must go on.”

At a film industry event last year, a Lloyds’ panel spoke about insuring film and television productions, noting that the industry requires insurance to protect against production delays, damaged equipment, accidents and natural disasters, to name a few common risks. Lloyds’ panelists identified the biggest risk:

“The majority of claims come from cast or crew non-appearance, according to Elliot. The financial cost of losing a lead actor or director can be enormous. Elliot cites the case of a film production in Europe where the director suffered an illness during the production and post-production phases resulting in an insurance claim of around $2.3m.”

At Fireman’s Fund Insurance 150-year mark, Richard Verrier of the Los Angeles Times looked at the insurer’s century of work in the film industry, and how the company helped keep the cameras rolling.

“Fireman’s Fund covers about 80% to 85% of the $200 million or more in policies Hollywood spends each year to insure movies and TV shows. Premiums range from 1% to 4% of a movie’s budget, meaning that a $200-million movie may spend at least $2 million on insurance coverage.”

The company said that in 2012, the average claim paid to a film or TV producer in 2012 was $60,651, But some were substantially more:

“When Audrey Hepburn fell from a horse while making “The Unforgiven,” her resulting back injury delayed filming of the 1960 John Houston movie. Fireman’s Fund paid more than $240,000 to cover the losses.

“Spartacus” was more costly for the insurer, which paid $245,000 for delays caused by an emergency operation for actress Jean Simmons, $53,000 for star Kirk Douglas’ viral infection and $335,000 for co-star Tony Curtis’ severed Achilles tendon.

But its most expensive claim was for “Wagons East.” Fireman’s Fund paid about $15 million when star John Candy died in 1994 during production in Durango, Mexico.

The insurer paid a $7-million claim after Patrick Swayze fell off a horse and broke his legs during filming of the 1998 crime movie “Letters From a Killer,” Diaz said.”

Enjoy the Academy Awards this weekend. Insurance nerds who miss the recognition of the behind-the-scenes role their industry plays might enjoy some of these insurance related films:

Winter fire safety: a few quick reminders

It’s peak season for home fires. While cooking is the leading cause of home fires year round, heating-related fires are a close second during the winter months – think space heaters, wood stoves and fireplaces. Use of inappropriate and unsafe materials during power outages can also lead to winter fires – relying on candles for lights, using a gas range for heat or a portable grill for cooking. The latter can also result in carbon monoxide poisoning, as can running a generator in or too close to the home.

Here are some short videos from FEMA that offer quick reminders about fire safety.

And with all this snow, don’t forget to dig out your nearest fire hydrant – a mere few minutes can make the difference when it comes to fire.

Warm thoughts for a chilly Valentine’s Day


With Valentine’s Day looming, we’re definitely in need of some hugs here in New England — for the warmth if nothing else! It’s been a tough few weeks and if the weather reports are true, it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

Hard to remember, but New England is famous for more than just snow. One of our famous creations is distributed in the millions at this time of the year: the ever popular candy conversation hearts were invented in Massachusetts at the Necco factory, where they are still being produced today. But there’s one modern twist: they’ve added a few new conversation phrases for 2015:

The five other new conversation hearts for 2015 are: “BFF,” “TE AMO,” which is “I love you” in Spanish, “JE T’AIME,” which is “I love you” in French, a picture of a smiley face, and a picture of a handlebar mustache.

Learn more about the The History of the Conversation Heart. And you can even make your own personal jpg version to use on your blog or website at ACME Heart Maker. Here’s ours:


Here are a few cute Valentine clips to get you in a heartfelt spirit. Thanks to one of our favorite sites, Neatorma, for the links

Snowmageddon: Is your roof at risk of collapse?

After the unprecedented series of record-breaking snowstorms, we’re hearing some reports of roofs collapsing under the weight of the snow. One of our insurance partners, The Hanover, posted this persuasive graphic on their Twitter feed comparing the cost of a roof replacement vs a roof rake.


That’s pretty convincing, but how do you know if your home or business is at risk? The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety has a great infographic (below) along with an informative post on Four Steps to Identify and Address Roof Risks from Heavy Snow – it offers tips for how to identify and assess your risk and how to address problems safely. It’s well worth a read, particularly since forecasters say there may be more snow in our future this week!

This has got to end someday, right? When it does, keep this resource handy:
Responding to Flooding When Snow and Ice Melt


Car thieves have new tricks: VIN cloning


Car theft used to be a major worry for car owners, but today, it’s just a passing concern. Hot-wired cars may now be a thing of the past. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reports that car theft has dropped by 58% since 1991, the high point when 1.661 million vehicles were stolen. The improvement is so dramatic that many police departments throughout the country have disbanded their dedicated auto theft investigative units.

In a recent article on auto theft, the Boston Globe reports:

“At its peak in 1975, Massachusetts ranked third nationwide (behind California and New York) in total annual thefts at 91,563, and the state remained in the top 10 states for auto theft until 1992, according to National Insurance Crime Bureau stats. The state ended 2013 with 9,122 thefts.”

Law enforcement and insurance-industry focus helped to turn the tide, but perhaps even more importantly, technology advances have changed the playing field. Transponder keys, immobilizing technologies, and tracking & recovery systems have all contributed to the drop. But criminals aren’t throwing in the towel — they are adapting and getting smarter. Some of the ways they get around things are to steal the transponder itself. Another way is through fraudulent financing. Crooks steal your identity and then secure financing under your ID to buy a new car.

One devious and increasingly common new car crime is called VIN cloning or VIN switching, a real concern for used car buyers. It works this way: Thieves steal a car. Then they locate a similar model and make and copy the vehicle identification number (VIN). The thieves then make and install counterfeit VIN plates for the stolen car. You buy the car complete with paperwork, but one day police knock on your door to reclaim the stolen vehicle. Unless your state offers some consumer protections, you may be out of luck – you still have loan payments but your car was confiscated.

Here are a few clips that explain how it works.

How can you protect yourself?
CarFax offers suggestions for how to protect yourself from VIN fraud, including these tips

–Check the VINs on the dash, driver’s door sticker, car frame, title documents and service records all match
–Examine the VIN plate on the dash for any sign of tampering
–Look at the CARFAX and check:
—–For a clone alert
—–If the mileage on the odometer matches reported mileage
—–For several registrations between states – this is a red flag which should be investigated further
–Follow our tips for detecting salvage title fraud
–Get the car inspected by a qualified, independent mechanic

Take care: Shoveling snow can kill or injure you

“Shoveling lots of wet, heavy snow presents a real risk of heart attack if you’re not in shape to do it. And musculoskeletal injuries are even more common.” That’s a reminder from Lenny Bernstein, who offers excellent tips for shoveling safely in the Washington Post. The following short video accompanies his tips.

We also really like this great tip list from Roy Berendsohn of Popular Mechanics: 16 Cardinal Rules for Snow Shoveling. Roy also offers a handy guide to help you to choose the best tool for the type of conditions and the task: Which Snow Shovel Is the Best?


Game time countdown! Pre-Super Bowl fun

For the last three years, Teddy the Porcupine has correctly predicted the Super Bowl winners. Will he keep his winning streak going with his 2015 pre=game prediction?

We can’t get enough bad lip-reading clips – here’s the 2015 edition.

The older cat teaches baby kitten what to expect on Super Bowl day – it’s a commercial, but a darn cute one.

If football isn’t your thing, don’t forget about Puppy Bowl XI – here’s a preview and a little pregame analysis.

Speaking of commercials, here are some picks for the 10 best Super Bowl ads of all time as well as 5 of the biggest blunders over the years. If you don’t want to wait to see what will be unveiled this year, you can check out the 2015 Super Bowl ads in advance right from your computer.

As for snacks, we’ll have trouble finding a better suggestion than our prior advice on Building a Super Bowl Snack Stadium. Here are 8 more Super bowl snackadiums if you’d lie some variations.

If you are hosting a Super Bowl party, you want to ensure that things stay fun — take a few minutes to review this handy guide on Social Host Liability.

Blizzard damage: what your insurance covers

It was one for the record books for many in New England. When assessing damage, the Insurance Information Institute reminds us that:

“Standard homeowners policies provide coverage for damage caused by wind, snow, severe cold and freezing rain,” said Jeanne M. Salvatore, senior vice president and chief communications officer of the I.I.I. “Car accidents caused by slippery road conditions are also covered under standard auto insurance policies.”

See Concerned About Winter Storm Damage To Your Home Or Car? I.I.I. Reviews What’s Covered by Your Insurance – call your local independent agent if you have questions.

New England begins is digging out today. When digging out, remember to clear your exhaust pipes in your car and your home.

Here’s a retrospect of a few storm-related images.