Post-Thanksgiving shopping extravaganzas – a few safety tips


After Thanksgiving sale

Once upon a time, we all celebrated Thanksgiving, watched a few football games and had a leisurely post-holiday weekend. Now it’s a shop-til-you-drop extravaganza that extends over 5 or 6 days – yikes!  We offer a rundown with some consumer safety tips.

Black Friday – The day after Thanksgiving is either a shopper’s paradise or a total retail nightmare, depending on your competitive shopping appetite. And check your stores – Black Friday may start on Thanksgiving Day itself at some of the nation’s biggest box stores. (Some naysayers call this “Grey Thursday).

Small Business Saturday – Go Local! – Small Business Saturday encourages holiday shoppers to support local “real world” businesses – the small, local shops, stores and businesses in your neighborhood or town.

Cyber Monday – Shop and get good deals online! But don’t let your guard down in the pursuit of good deals – cyber criminals will be out in full force.

Giving Tuesday – #GivingTuesday is a global day dedicated to giving back. On Tuesday, December 1, 2015, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.

Here are some “real world” shopping tips

  • Keep packages out of site in your car. Lock them in your trunk and keep car doors locked
  • Be aware of your purse and wallet at all times – pickpockets love crowds. If you can, avoid a purse or wallet entirely and store phone, cash, credit cards and IDs in a secure inner pocket.
  • Carry only the money and credit cards you need. Don’t flash cash.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Thieves and con-artists specialize in distraction techniques.
  • Don’t overload yourself with packages and impair your awareness, mobility or vision – take some to the car.
  • Remember where you parked your car. Have your keys ready and be alert for strangers when you approach it.
  • Shop with a friend or family member, particularly at night. There’s safety in numbers.

Here are a few safe online shopping tips:

  • Update your web security, anti-virus and malware detection programs snf be sure your firewall is on.
  • Watch out for email phishing offers, the spoofed mails look authentic. Don’t click the link, type in the website.
  • Purchase only in a secure environment – check for “https” in the address in your web browser – the “s” stands for “secure” – never conduct a transaction without it.
  • Public Wi-Fi is not secure so avoid doing banking and transactions that would expose your credit cards, passwords, or personal info.
  • Update your passwords before shopping. Create unique passwords for each site – here are some tips for creating secure passwords.
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Watch out for “free” gift offers and contests from unknown sites. Don’t give away any personal information or credit card numbers to anyone you don’t know.

 

Best & Worst Thanksgiving Driving Times


If you’ll be driving to visit friends or family on Thanksgiving, you’ll enjoy remarkably low gas prices. Gas Buddy reports that the national average per gallon is $2.139, down .73 from last year’s average of $2.876! And last year, we thought that was cheap! Here’s a map so you can see state-by-state gas rates.

It’s a good idea to plan your best routes and times now. You can get some tips about the best and worst times for Thanksgiving road travel via Waze, a community-based mobile app that tracks traffic trends around the world. Waze analyzed data from 2014 to make predictions for the best and worst times for traffic this Thanksgiving.

First, the best time for driving to and fro is Thanksgiving Day itself.

They predict a number of “worst days” for pre-holiday

  • Tuesday, November 24, beginning at 1 pm, with a peak between 4 pm and 8 pm
  • Wednesday November 25, starting at 11 am and lasting through the day

…and worst days for post-holiday

  • Sunday, November 29 – rush hour will last all day
  • Monday, Monday November 30 – expect a heavier rush hour from 10am through noon

Google Maps also offers a day-by-day breakdown of predicted traffic. They suggest that Tuesday is slightly better travel day than Wednesday for getting there – but one local place that might be an exception is in Boston, where Tuesday tends to be historically worse. For traveling back home, they suggest that Sunday is a better day to travel back home than Saturday, which can be 40% worse. We’ve excerpted a few visual tips from their 2014 blog, check them out below.

And if you plan to be on the road, Consumer Reports offers some good Thanksgiving driving planning and safety tips – check them out!

 

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Vintage insurance advertising!


Photo from the library of Congress

Photo from the library of Congress

Photoshop has nothing on the photo montage specialists of the 1800s, who were adept at “trick photography.” Witness this historic Civil War era image title “Union Commanders” from the Library of Congress. Linton Weeks of NPR’s history department took a closer look, noting that although the photo is dated 1884, several of the people in the photo had been dead for decades by that point.

It turns out it the “photo” is an example of an early insurance ad – from one of our insurance company partners, no less: A caption on the photo says “With compliments,” signed by Travelers Life and Accident Insurance Co. There was a similar image produced of Confederate generals.

NPR asked the folks at Travelers about the photo:

“The photo-artist “used individual photographs of the Confederate commanders and created a composite picture of them together,” she says. “The figures were cut from the print and pasted on a painted background. This process would be similar to using software like Photoshop in today’s terms to place images together in one photo.

“The idea of using the pictures as advertising came from Maj. Edward Preston, the Travelers superintendent of agencies, Davidson says. “The first copy of the ‘Confederate Commanders’ was delivered to Jefferson Davis by the Travelers representative in Montgomery, Ala. Copies also were sent to all the living generals in both pictures.”

She adds that the success of the ad campaign prompted more composites, including “Famous American Authors,” “Eminent Women” and “Famous Editors.”

Photoshop may have made photo manipulations easier for the average person, but photo manipulations go way back. Check out this fun gallery of 15 Photo Manipulations Before the Digital Age.

Whether using photos or illustrations, trade cards were a common form of advertising in the 1800s for all types of products and services. Life Insurance was a pretty common theme. Explores some fascinating examples of Victorian Trade Cards.

Many thanks to all veterans! Here’s a guide to some freebies on Veterans Day


We salute and honor our veterans this week! Here’s a touching tribute video of Norah Jones singing the American Anthem with some great portraits of veterans through our history.

On Veterans Day, as a small token of appreciation for service, many businesses offer free meals, beverages or discounts to current and former military members on Veteran’s Day. Here are some that we’ve found.

Veterans Day Discounts and Freebies

2015 Veterans Day Free Meals, Discounts, Sales and Deals

2015 Veterans Day free meals and discounts – find local offers

2015 Veterans Day Free Meals and Discounts

Giving Back

Support these organizations that are not only offering discounts to vets but are also contributing a portion of sales to donations for veterans’ causes.

If you’d like to support our veterans, Charity Watch and Charity Navigator offer lists of organizations.

Don’t let a valuable collection go up in smoke: Talk to your agent about insurance


Comic book big explosionAre you a collector? If you’ve amassed a significant collection, you may want to have its value appraised and consider adding specialty coverage or an endorsement to your homeowners insurance policy. Whether your collection is fine antiques, stamps, musical instruments, vintage costume jewelry or comic books, it can amass in value. You should talk over your collection with your insurance agent and see if it makes sense to protect your investment.

Take comic books. Vintage comics that were bought for mere pennies in the last century are now valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. A few prized comic editions have even reached into the millions at auctions.

This PropertyCasualty360 video is a case in point. Shawn Moynihan interviews Vincent Zurzolo, COO and co-founder of Metropolis Collectibles, a large and respected rare comic book dealer. It’s interesting from several perspectives: as a business case study of a fascinating niche business, as a discussion of commercial risk management, and also in the lessons it offers to personal hobbyists and collectors about protecting investments.

Zurzola shares interesting information about Metropolis Collectibles’ huge comics collection and the risk management steps they take for protection. He also has a few words for personal collectors. He says that just the way you protect the investment in your home or car by having insurance, you should protect your valuable collections too. He says, “… collectors feel like they are insured through their homeowners insurance policies sometimes they are and sometimes they’re not and finding out when its too too late is a tragedy.” He shares a cautionary story about an uninsured client who lost a valuable collection in Hurricane Sandy. He also notes that because collectibles frequently increase and decrease in value, it’s a good idea to do an annual review every year when insurance policies are up for review. He suggests that if you can’t evaluate your collection yourself, seek the help of an expert.