Earth Day 2019

Earth day is celebrated April 22nd. Making the smallest change to your daily routine can make a huge difference. Here at Garber, we do our part by being a paperless office and encouraging staff to reduce their plastic use by using reusable water bottles and shopping bags. What you may not realize is making environmentally friendly adjustments in your everyday life that can positively affect your insurance premium.

Many insurance companies use the number of miles you drive as a factor when figuring out your auto insurance premium. Changing your commute by using mass transit, walking or biking can reduce your carbon footprint as well as shrink your mileage and therefore reducing your car insurance!

If you’re a homeowner, check your homeowner’s insurance policy to ensure that you are properly covered if you are trying to make your home US Green Building Council or LEED compliant. Standard homeowner’s policies may not cover the costs of replacing your upgrades. Confirm that your homeowner’s policy specifically provides replacement to that same environmental level to avoid paying out of pocket costs to reach the same standards. If you’re a renter, you can switch to energy efficient light bulbs and appliances as well as non-toxic cleaning products while trying to make your home greener. Small changes can make huge impacts for our environment.

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Five Things To Do Before Leaving For Vacation

Holiday suitcase on wooden table

Your tickets are booked and the itinerary has been planned for months. Today’s the day-you’re finally going on that well deserved vacation! If you’re one of the many traveling for Spring Break this week, you’ll want to consult our list on ways to prep your home before heading out:

  1. Hit pause on your mail service. Piled up mail on your porch is a red flag to potential intruders. Ask a neighbor to pick up your mail. If you can’t find one available, ask the post office to hold it. Your mail will remain safe until you return. Best of all, the service is free!
  2. Unplug small appliances. You’ll be grateful for the lowered electrical bill, and it decreases your chance of a fire.
  3. Adjust your thermostat. Another easy way to save some cash on your electric bill. During the winter, lower it between 50-60 degrees. If you set it lower than 50, you run the risk of frozen pipes. In the summer, set it to 85 or turn it off completely.   
  4. Shut down your water heater. Turn off the circuit breaker to the water heater. If you have a gas heater, turn off the gas valve to be safe.  When you return home, the hot water tap should be allowed to run before the power and gas are turned on to make sure the water tank isn’t empty. It can damage the unit if the tank is heated without any water in it.
  5. Check on your insurance. Knowing what your insurance policies cover can save you both time and money if something happens while you’re away. 

While vacations are exciting, they can be costly so it’s nice to be able to save money and have peace of mind that you can save on the home front while you travel. We suggest using the money you saved from this trip in a fund for your next getaway!

Dog Bite Prevention Week

National Dog Bite Prevention Week takes place the second week of April. Dog Bite Prevention Week was created by several organizations including the American Humane Association, Insurance Information Institute & United States Postal Office. The American Veterinary Medical Association estimated that there were about 78 million dogs in the U.S., with at least one dog in 32 percent of U.S households. 

In 2018 dog related injuries accounted for nearly one third of all homeowners’ liability claims paid out, costing over $675 million, according to the Insurance Information Institute and State Farm. Approximately 4.5 million people were bitten by dogs last year. Children make up more than half that number. While we love our pups, it is important to remember that they are animals and they have feelings that we don’t always pick up on.

As a dog owner, the most important things you can do are:

  1. Spay or Neuter Your Dog: Fixed pooches are calmer, healthier and less likely to be aggressive. Neutering helps prevent unwanted dogs that may end up in shelters in less than ideal situations where they may end up aggressive or poorly socialized.
  2. Condition Your Dog for the World: Give your puppy new positive experiences and training using positive methods like treats and clicker training
  3. Supervise Your Dog: Keep a close eye on your dog at all times around children. Do not allow children to hug or kiss any dog.
  4. Train Your Pooch: Take your pup to obedience classes where positive reinforcement is used. Involve older children in training the family pet while supervising. Never allow children to punish the dog. Train the dog to enjoy the presence of children using positive actions.

As a parent, the most important thing you can do is educate your children on dogs and dog behavior, including how they do not like hugs and kisses. Most dogs find this kind of gesture threatening which unfortunately results in bites to the face or neck. Instead, teach children to pet dogs on the chest or side of neck. When children approach a strange dog, never pet the dog with out the owner’s permission first.

Dogs are a valued member of the family and provide humans with so much including unconditional love, protection and comfort. It’s up to us to learn the importance of responsible pet ownership by heeding these safety tips and protecting ourselves, our dogs, and our children.

Distracted Driving Awareness Month

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. According to the National Safety Council, at least nine Americans die each day and one thousand more are injured in distracted driving crashes. Whether you’ve felt the need to send a text while driving or have been distracted by outside factors while behind the wheel, follow these tips below to reduce your chance of dangerous activity on the road:

  1. Turn your phone off or put it somewhere out of reach. We recommend the glove box-out of sight out of mind.
  2. If you’re using the GPS on your phone, disable app and text notifications. 
  3. Program your GPS and adjust your seats, mirrors and other distracting car functions before you begin driving.
  4. Secure children & pets with the proper restraints.
  5. Finish grooming and personal care at home.
  6. Avoid eating while driving. If you must, pull over until you’re finished.

Distracted driving can have monumental consequences to your safety and have significant impacts to your insurance rates and your driving privileges. The average text message takes about 4.5 seconds to send. At 55 MPH, you’ve driven the length of an entire football field by the time you’ve hit ‘send’. In addition to life threatening scenarios, a ticket for texting or using your phone while driving raises your auto insurance rate by 16%. If you want to avoid potentially dangerous and expensive situations and put aside the distractions and focus on the road.

Flood Watch vs Flood Warning: Do you know the difference?

April showers bring….potential flooding!

Do you know the difference between flood watches and warnings? Flood watches are issued when rain is heavy rain is expected to occur, which can cause bodies of water to overflow. Flood warnings describe how intense the flooding will be and the location it is expected to take place.

As always, being prepared is essential to your safety. We suggest having an evacuation plan for your family & pets. Keep an emergency kit on hand; complete with batteries, flashlights, a battery operated radio, a first aid kit, medication, non-perishable food, water bottles, cash & credit cards.

Unbeknownst to most policyholders, the standard homeowners policy does not include flood insurance. There is typically a 30 day waiting period through the National Flood Insurance Program, so if you happen to live in an area known to flood reach out to your insurance agent as soon as possible. 

Floods are among the most frequent & costly natural disasters. They can occur anywhere. We suggest consulting FEMA’s flood maphttps://msc.fema.gov/portal/home to familiarize yourself with the types of flood risk in your area.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance

In the State of New York PIP Insurance is mandatory, but what exactly is PIP Coverage? PIP stands for Personal Injury Protection, sometimes also called “no-fault” because it pays out regardless of who was the responsible party during a motor vehicle accident. It also covers medical expenses, lost wages, some out of pocket costs as well as expenses incurred from personal injuries due to an auto accident. Out of state coverage includes surgical, medical and dental services as well as hospital expenses.

PIP is different than standard auto liability insurance in that it does not cover repairs or replacements to your vehicle. It offers protection from costly medical bills after an accident. PIP covers you, the drivers listed on the policy as well as your passengers. One of the most frustrating issues following a car accident is the time it takes for insurance companies to decide who is at fault. PIP ensures that no blame needs to be placed. As long as the accident is covered, you only deal with your insurance company, and medical and lost income payments are made as soon as possible.

Car accidents are one of the most traumatic experiences you can endure. After an accident, your main priority should be yours and your family’s well being, not costly medical bills. PIP coverage makes a tough situation easier by handling most of the financial burdens that follow an auto accident. If you have any questions regarding your PIP coverage, please contact our office.

World Water Day

 March 22nd is World Water Day. Billions of people live everyday without clean, safe drinking water. There are plenty of ways you can help conserve water and bring awareness to the cause. Here are a few simple ways to get you started:

  • Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth: Water flows from the average faucet at 2.5 gallons per minute. The average person brushes their teeth for at least 2 minutes. That’s almost 7 gallons of wasted water! Same goes for washing your hands.
  • Fix your leaks: A leaky faucet can cause larger problems as time goes on including low water pressure, maddening dripping sounds, staining the porcelain of your tub or sink and expensive water bills. It can also add additional stresses on your plumbing and cause drain clogs and overflows which can result in water leaking through, damaging floorboards and ceilings throughout your home. To find out what your homeowners policy covers in case of water damage, contact your agent today.
  • Wear blue: Wear blue in recognition of World Water Day & use the hashtag #WorldWaterDay on social media to promote the cause.
  • Use less electricity: Power plants use thousands of gallons of water to cool. By conserving power you’re indirectly conserving water too. An easy way to do this is not running your dishwasher or washing machine until it’s full. It’s also cost efficient!
  • Water plants early in the morning: Less water is needed since morning temperatures are typically cooler which means losing less water due to evaporation.

You can learn more information about World Water Day here.