Tricks, Not Treats: Winter Storms and Power Outages


The East coast had a surprise snow storm that has derailed Halloween plans from Maryland to Maine. Many cities and towns need time to clean up downed trees, limbs, and power lines before it is safe for kids ghosts and goblins to go house to house. Plus, power restoration is still a work in progress for any communities.

This is just a teaser of events yet to come. The Insurance Information Institute has provided a breakdown of Winter Storm Facts. When adjusted for inflation, Winter Storms have caused about $26 billion in insured catastrophe losses since 1991, resulting more than $1 billion a year in damage on average. Last year, winter storm losses totaled $2.6 billion, the highest it’s been since 2003.

In this unprecedented October storm almost a million households were left without power. The FDA site has tips for keeping food safe during and after power outages. Refrigerated foods should be fine if the door remains shut and the power was out for no less than 4 hours, but for many households in the Northeast this was not the case. Follow their safety tips to prevent illness after the storm.

If your home or auto suffered damage from falling tree limbs, call your insurance agent.

Here’s a brief video on the topic:

By most accounts winter hasn’t even started yet – the winter season doesn’t even officially start until December 22nd and already the Northeast is getting an early taste of it. If you have questions about your insurance coverage and whether you are adequately protected against storm-related loss, talk to your insurance agent.

Halloween Perils For Pets … and People, Too


Last year, we posted a good roundup of Halloween safety tips for keeping people & property safe – particularly any diminutive zombies that might come to your house. There are also some excellent pumpkin carving examples and tips.

This year, we focus on pets. ABC News has posted Tips for Making Halloween Safer for Pets. Halloween is one of the most dangerous days of the year for pets because of the myriad of hazards it presents.

The abundance of candy lying around is a huge issue, since chocolate is poisonous to dogs. National Geographic has an excellent interactive doggie chocolate chart that tells you when to worry. According to the NRF, Americans spend close to $1.8 billion on Halloween Candy. That’s a lot of candy lying around just waiting to be ingested by animals. Not only that, but many of the wrappers are choking hazards for pets. Even the health conscious households who hand out boxes of raisins instead of candy should know that raisins are also dangerous to dogs and can result in kidney failure.

Here are a few more pet perils:

  • Heavy traffic to your front door gives your pets more than ample opportunities to escape. Many pets become lost or injured. Halloween is the second most reported day of the year for pets escaping, the first being the 4th of July.
  • Decorative candles may look festive but many pets receive injuries from them every Halloween. Whether it’s your cat knocking a candle off the mantle or sticking its head into a Jack-o-lantern, candles can burn and injure your pets if you’re not careful.
  • Owners who dress their pets in Halloween costumes should always maintain supervision. Many costumes poses choking hazards, overheat animals, or cause them to get tangled up and take nasty falls.

Lots of people don’t invest in pet insurance and that is clearly a mistake. If you don’t have pet insurance already why not connect with a Renaissance Alliance insurance agent near you?

True Cost to Own a Vehicle Calculator


The Edmunds True Cost to Own Calculator is a handy tool that will help inform you of the true cost of your next vehicle purchase. The purchase price is not the only indicator of which car is the better deal as sometimes the cheaper car will hit you with other costs down the line. The True Cost to Own Calculator helps reveal those hidden costs.
Here’s how it works. Based on your area and the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price, it then factors in estimates about depreciation, taxes, fees, financing, fuel, maintenance, repairs, and the purpose of this blog, insurance. All estimates are based on a 5 year period with 15,000 miles driven per year. Although these are just estimates it’s educational and often surprising to compare the charts of different makes and models to see what the estimated “True Cost to Own” is.
It’s also good for comparing whether or not that hybrid car you’ve been eying is finally worth it, since in theory the higher purchase price will save you gas in the long run. You might be surprised. The True Cost Calculator helps determine this and reveal other hidden costs.
Insurance is already figured into the tool, but here is a list of the Most and Least Expensive Cars to Insure for 2011. Another factor you might want to consider is susceptibility to theft. Here is a list of the Top 10 Most Stolen in 2010.
Before you purchase your next vehicle be sure to check this tool out – it pays to do a little advance research!