New England Labor Day Activities


Happy Labor Day 2018 banner

 

Are you approaching Labor Day weekend without any scheduled plans? Don’t worry,  there’s still plenty of time to find things in driving distance right here in New England … from country fairs and music festivals to coastal beaches and inland parks. We’re expecting relief from the extreme heat over the holiday weekend. There should be quite a cool off, but the heat may return early next week. And if you are taking to the road, be aware that gas prices are on the high side: Labor Day gas prices hit 4-year high — and probably won’t drop much after the holiday.

Remember, Labor Day is only the symbolic end of summer – we don’t officially move into the autumn until September 22! If you can’t fit all these ideas and activities in this weekend, you have a few more weeks to try before leaf-peeping season starts.

Visit New England Events Calendar

Connecticut Labor Day Weekend

Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism – Labor Day

Rhode Island Rhythm & Roots Fest is one of southern New England’s biggest Labor Day parties

How To Do Labor Day Weekend In Newport

New Hampshire: Highlights: Labor Day Weekend Brings Roots Music to the Fore

Portsmouth NH Calendar of Events

Connecticut Labor Day Weekend at the Fair & the Farm

Maine Calendar of Events

Vermont Calendar of Events

Boston Magazine: 52 Best Weekend Trips and Getaways from Boston

Boston Labor Day Events Guide 2018 – Top Things to Do on Labor Day Weekend in Boston

10+ Things to Do in Boston Labor Day 2018 Weekend & September

Posted in Events

Roundup of funny insurance ads


We’ve been falling down on the job lately – it’s been quite some time since we posted any funny insurance ads. We particularly enjoy seeing how other countries promote insurance in their TV spots. Here are a few that we’ve found recently and we’ve added a few from our archives at the end of the post.

Don’t worry that there is no translation – you’ll get the point.

A unique selling proposition.

Australia’s Budget Direct uses a character called Captain Risky in their ads. They say “Captain Risky dives, jumps, soars and ski jumps his way into extreme danger. Budget Direct – we don’t insure Captain Risky to keep prices low.”

Liberty Mutual’s ad from a few year’s back focuses on imperfect humans.

OK, this last one isn’t an ad, but it should be. It’s a news clip, but it drives home the reason why insurance is important.

If you can’t get enough, here are more amusing insurance ads from our archives.

DUI Laws, Insurance Rates, and Interlock Devices


DUI check - policeman holding a breathalyzer

Don’t drive drunk. Don’t drive while impaired. Just… don’t.

It’s sound advice you’ve heard a million times before. It’s common sense. And it’s one of the best ways to avoid taking a significant hit to the wallet when it comes to auto insurance.

There’s no way around it. Having a DUI on your driving record flags you as a high-risk driver. High-risk drivers pay more for auto insurance. If you have a poor driving history, a DUI may cause your insurance company to cancel your policy. Even with a previously perfect driving record, a DUI will at the very least cause your insurance rates to go up.

SR-22s and rate increases

Every state in New England requires that you report your DUI to your insurer. A DUI is considered a major violation, like reckless driving or hit-and-run. You will be required to get what’s called an SR-22, a form filed on your behalf by your insurance company which constitutes proof that you are carrying the required amount of liability insurance. It’s also a red-flag that you are a high risk driver. (In Virginia and Florida, the required form is called an FR-44.) There will be a filing fee, usually between $20-$50. Not all insurance companies will file an SR-22. Some insurance companies will not insure high risk drivers, so if yours does not file, you will likely need a new policy with a company that will file the form. Depending on the state in which you live, you will be required to carry SR-22 insurance for three to five years.

After filing an SR-22, brace yourself: your insurance rates are going up. A recent study showed that on average insurance rates increased by more than 56% – a $1000 yearly rate would become $1560 after a first DUI offense.

Average Insurance Rate Increases in New England:

  • Connecticut: 1.75x
  • Maine: 1.67x
  • Massachusetts: 2.17x
  • New Hampshire: 2.30x
  • Rhode Island: 1.31x
  • Vermont: 2.83x

Note that these estimates are for a first offense. Multiple DUIs will result in concomitantly larger rate increases or, more likely, policy cancellation. Note also that rate increases are contingent on other factors such as age and driving record – a 50-year-old with a clean driving record will likely face a lower rate hike than a 25-year-old with multiple moving violations.

Ignition interlock device laws

In addition to requiring an SR-22, you may also be required to install (at your expense) an ignition interlock device. The cost to install these devices varies by jurisdiction, but is usually around $175-$300. These devices are basically breathalyzers attached to your vehicle’s starter. They won’t let the car start if they detect alcohol on your breath (the base limit of alcohol allowed varies between jurisdictions, but is almost always “none”). Also, at random times while the vehicle is in motion, the system will require another puff into the analyzer. This “rolling retest” is designed to prevent non-drivers from providing a breath sample and to prevent consumption of alcohol behind the wheel.

Depending on where your DUI occurred and the severity of the charge, you may be required to keep an ignition interlock on your vehicle as part of your DUI plea. In other jurisdictions, installing an ignition interlock device may shorten the duration that your driving privileges are suspended. Your insurance advisor can help sort out these details and make sure you’re in legal compliance and on the best path toward repairing your driving record.

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) offers a handy chart that summarizes state laws related to impaired driving. They note that all states have some type of ignition interlock program. Also see the National Conference of State Legislatures for a 50-state overview of ignition interlock regulations.  We’ve included links below for more detail on how each state in New England approaches drunk/impaired driving and how they deal with ignition interlock devices:

As with any insurance matter, your independent insurance agent is there to answer questions and walk you through the tangle of insurance-related problems arising from a DUI.

But the best solution is still the simplest: don’t drive impaired. Have a designated driver, take a cab home, use a ride-sharing service like Lyft or Uber. A little planning and foresight now can make a world of difference.

Apartment dwellers: Don’t miss out on the protection that renters insurance offers


happy woman with boxes at a new aparment

Great, you have a great new apartment. You’ve thought of everything – the mover, the new furnishings, the utilities. You’ve got everything covered. Or do you?

Too few people are taking advantage of one of the most affordable and practical forms of property insurance available: Renters insurance, or sometimes also called tenant’s insurance. According to a 2016 poll by the Insurance Information Institute, while some 95% of homes are covered by homeowners insurance, just over 40% of tenants carry renters insurance.

Homeowners insurance, is, of course, required for a mortgage. Banks want to protect their assets! It’s much less common for landlords to require a renter to have an insurance policy – it’s usually optional. In either case, having an insurance policy that covers the loss of your possessions just makes sense. Most renters insurance policies also offer liability protection and coverage of additional living expenses.

Who need renters insurance?

If you rent, you do! Your landlord’s insurance does not cover your possessions. Their insurance covers the building and grounds, not the contents of each unit. Tenant’s insurance covers your belongings in the event of fire or smoke damage, vandalism or theft, lightning, and some specific types of water damage (such as a burst pipe or a forgetful upstairs neighbor leaving the tub running).

A great way to help determine what coverage you need is to make a home inventory. This will help you get an accurate picture of the value of your belongings, and that, in turn, will inform your renters insurance policy choices. Having your possessions accurately and thoroughly documented will also be a huge help if you need to file a claim. For help with making a home inventory, check out how to create a home inventory.

What else does renters insurance cover?

Many policies also offer off-premise coverage. This means that belongings outside your home (such as items in your car or hotel room) are protected just like they were sitting in your living room.

Renters insurance also offers liability protection. This covers you from lawsuits should someone be injured on your property. Your policy will cover the cost of a court defense, up to the limits of the policy.

Some tenant’s insurance policy also cover the costs associated with the aftermath of a home-destroying disaster: hotel rooms, rental cars, meals, and other expenses incurred while you home is rebuilt or you are able to relocate.

Determine your policy needs in consultation with your independent insurance agent. She can recommend additional policy provisions such as extra coverage for valuables like jewelry, art, or firearm collections; a policy deductible that suits your circumstances; and umbrella liability protection beyond the scope of your renter’s policy.

What isn’t covered?

While renters insurance offers significant protection from many common disasters, there are a couple of big exceptions. Most tenant’s insurance policies do NOT cover flood damage. Insurance for flood damage is available from the National Flood Insurance Program. Most rental insurance won’t cover earthquake damage. Policies specifically covering earthquake can be purchased separately or added as an endorsement to your renters insurance policy. You should also talk to your agent if you have any valuable collections that may need additional coverage.

How much does renters insurance cost?

The short answer is: not much, compared to the cost of replacing all your stuff. Your independent insurance agent can help you find a policy with the coverage that suits your needs. She’ll help you decide whether you need “actual cash value” or “replacement cost” coverage. Actual cash value pays out what your possessions are actually worth, including depreciation. It’s more affordable, but pays out less than a replacement cost policy, which would pay what it would take to replace the items if you bought them today.

Your independent insurance agent will also steer you toward any available discounts, too. Policies bundled with car or business policies are often discounted. Discounts are also sometimes available for having a security system, proper smoke detectors, and deadbolt locks. Your age, credit history, and length of time with the same insurer can also trigger significant policy savings.

Ask your independent insurance agent

If you have renters insurance already, it’s still a good idea to go over the policy once a year in consultation with your independent insurance agent. Your circumstances may have changed. Your insurance should reflect those changes. If you don’t have rental insurance, ask your insurance advisor for more information, make a detailed home inventory, and get some quotes. You may be surprised at how affordable tenant’s insurance policies are. And if the worst happens and you are a victim of theft, vandalism, or natural disaster, you’ll rest easy knowing that you were properly prepared.

Handling pet fears in thunder & lightning storms


illustration of frightened cat thinking omg

When the thunder roars and the lightning crackles, there’s a primal satisfaction in being snug and dry beneath a stout roof surrounded by sturdy walls. And that’s just as true for your pets as it is for you and the rest of your family.

To keep your pets safe, keep them inside during bad weather. If you keep animals in a shed, barn or doghouse, make sure your outbuildings are structurally sound and properly grounded. A doghouse isn’t safe in a lightning strike – it’s best to move Rover inside. Cats left outside will often shelter in parked cars or beneath trees, both dangerous options during a lightning storm.

Some dogs and even some cats suffer from thunderstorm phobias. They’re extremely fearful of the stimuli caused by thunderstorms: lightning, thunder, strong winds, and even changes in barometric pressure. If your pet regularly freaks out when it’s bad out (by pacing, drooling, peeing or pooping inappropriately, hiding, or excessive vocalizing or destructive behavior), consult your veterinarian. There are different ways to treat thunderstorm phobia, from behavior modification to medication. It’s important not to reinforce bad behavior: during storms, don’t attempt to punish your pet’s behavior, nor should you try to comfort your pet (this is a hard one to resist).

Keeping your pets calm and dry when the weather is wet and wild isn’t just common sense. It’s as good for you as it is for them – the more stress you can address, the happier you and your fuzzy buddy will be.

For more information: