12/15/2011 | No Comments
We received a great email about keeping our furry friends safe this holiday season from Ocean County Veterinary Hospital and wanted to share it with you…
Lights, decorations, good food… every year, as we celebrate the holidays, we fill our homes with seasonal cheer for ourselves and our families. However, what may seem beautiful and harmless to us may pose hidden dangers to our pets. Don’t let an emergency spoil the festivities! Below are some common holiday hazards for dogs and cats and ways to prevent them.
Holiday Hazards & How to keep your pet safe
The following can be toxic to pets: chocolate, raisins, grapes, macadamia nuts, garlic, onion, alcohol, caffeinated beverages, bread dough, and sugar-free candy and gum containing the artificial sweetener xylitol.
Despite tradition, bones should never be given to pets. Even beef, ham, and other “regular” foods that are not considered toxic can cause illness in pets. If your pet is a moocher, keep a saucer of his regular treats on the table to offer when he asks. He probably won’t know the difference!
New Treats and Toys
Even a pet-safe treat can cause stomach upset if it is new to your pet. Offer only one of these at a time (ideally, separated by a few days). If your pet becomes ill after eating a holiday treat, it will be easier to trace the source and discontinue it. Also, check new toys for sharp edges, pieces that can be chewed off, or other potential hazards.
Hazardous plants include mistletoe, some evergreens (including some types of pine), and holly bushes and berries. Try to keep these plants away from pets, or at least supervise pets when dangerous plants are nearby.
Tinsel, tree ornaments, ribbons, string, and garlands are some items that can be dangerous if eaten by pets. Keep these items away from pets — especially when pets are unattended. Don’t forget to cover any electrical cords or keep them out of reach.
Fire and Carbon Monoxide
Monitor pets near fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, candles, and portable heaters. Also, don’t forget to check smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they are functioning properly. Space heaters, furnaces, and idling cars (in a garage) can increase the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in pets and humans.
Monitor your pets when they are around your holiday tree. Pets may eat the needles (even from artificial trees) or drink water from the base of the tree, which can be toxic (especially if there are preservatives in it). Keep electrical cords and decorative lights out of reach, too.
In many cases, if your pet has eaten or drunk something toxic, warning signs will include gastrointestinal problems, such as vomiting and diarrhea. Other signs may include tiredness and lack of appetite, especially in cats that have eaten lilies. If your pet shows any of these signs, or if you think he or she has eaten something dangerous but is not showing any signs yet, please call us right away. Treating your pet as soon as possible is essential!
12/09/2011 | No Comments
Another great article from Trusted Choice -if you’ll be renting a car during the holiday season, or ever, this is a must read!
Rental Car Insurance: To Buy or Not to Buy?
As the holiday season approaches, millions of Americans will take to the roads to visit family and friends. Since many will make the trip in a rented car, it’s an appropriate time to discuss one of the most frequently asked questions of agents and brokers all over the country: “Should I buy the insurance from the rental car company?”
Following are a few considerations when mulling this important decision:
DAMAGE WAIVER & YOUR PERSONAL AUTO POLICY
First, the good news: In many cases, a personal auto insurance policy will cover damage to a rented vehicle. That said—don’t get too comfortable! There are other costs associated with damage to a rented vehicle that the policy will not cover. For this reason, careful consideration should be given to purchasing the damage waiver offered by the rental car company.
On your personal auto policy, “Collision” insurance covers your vehicle for damage resulting from a collision with another object. “Comprehensive” (sometimes called “Other Than Collision”) covers your vehicle for theft, vandalism, falling objects and other causes not resulting from a collision. If you have a car loan, your lender will require you to purchase both. If you pay the loan off, the choice to purchase collision or comprehensive—and both or neither—is up to you.
Your personal auto policy will only cover damage to the rental car if you have the appropriate coverage type on at least one vehicle you own. For example, if you damage the rental car in a collision, you must have “collision” coverage on at least one vehicle covered by your personal auto policy. But if the rental car is stolen, vandalized, or damaged in any way not resulting from a collision, you must have “comprehensive” coverage on at least one vehicle covered by your personal auto policy. The key point: If your personal auto policy excludes the coverage type that damages the rental car—and you reject or violate the damage waiver—you will become personally responsible for paying all costs related to the damaged rental car out of your own pocket!
In contrast, the damage waiver usually offered at the rental counter will cover the damaged rental car regardless of what’s covered by your personal auto policy.
LIMITATIONS IN YOUR PERSONAL AUTO POLICY
What else could you possibly owe the rental company following an event or crash? These include administrative fees and the depreciated value of the vehicle after repairs—neither expense is covered by your personal auto policy. In addition, most personal auto policies only pay up to the actual cash value (ACV) of the damaged vehicle. If the contract requires the damaged rental’s replacement, the ACV payout may not be sufficient to cover the entire expense.
Again, in contrast, the damage waiver will cover all such expenses.
Also, the rental contract likely will require you to pay the rental company’s “loss of use.” These are expenses they incur resulting from the inability to earn income from the damaged rental. This cost could be hundreds of dollars or more. Some personal auto policies will pay a limited amount for this expense (such as $20 per day or $600 total). Others will not cover it at all.
In contrast, the damage waiver will pay the full cost of the rental company’s loss of use.
NO CLAIM NECESSARY
If something happens to the rental car, purchasing the damage waiver gives the rental agency management of the process. This will allow you to avoid filing a claim and possibly help keep the cost of your insurance from going up. It also will keep your deductible in your pocket.
LIMITATIONS IN THE DAMAGE WAIVER
Don’t forget that the rental car company’s damage waiver is a contract. It will include a list of restrictions that, if violated, may terminate the waiver and leave you personally responsible for paying the costs associated with the damaged rental car. Examples of such restrictions may include:
• Damage to rental while driven by someone not specifically named on the contract.
• Damage to rental while driven on unpaved roads.
• Damage to rental while it’s being occupied by more passengers than available seatbelts.
• Damage that occurs while pushing or towing.
This list is only a sample; the typical damage waiver may include additional restrictions.
Moreover, the car rental company’s loss damage waiver covers “diminished value,” the economic reduction in value of a repaired auto due to it having been damaged. Almost all auto policies and many credit card coverages exclude diminished value. What’s the impact to you? If you don’t take the damage waiver, you could get hit with a diminished value claim of $1,500 or more, depending on your type of damaged rental car.
DAMAGE WAIVER COVERS VEHICLE DAMAGE ONLY
Perhaps the most important fact to remember is that the damage waiver only applies to damage to the rented vehicle. It is not a substitute for liability, medical payments, uninsured motorist, personal injury protection, and any other personal auto insurance coverage.
OTHER PRODUCTS OFFERED BY RENTAL COMPANY
In addition to the damage waiver, most rental car companies offer a few optional insurance-type products. For example, some may offer a liability enhancement that gives you the option to increase the liability limits you already carry on your personal auto insurance policy. Depending on your available auto liability insurance, this option may be worth consideration.
Others may offer options such as accidental death, trip cancellation, or damaged luggage insurance during the rental period. Such options vary by company and may provide insurance dollars you cannot get elsewhere. However, they should not be purchased without first reviewing your current home, health and auto insurance policies as there may be duplication.
In light of the information above, you should seriously consider—and probably buy—the damage waiver from the rental car company. Deciding whether to purchase other products from the rental firm, however, depends largely on the insurance already available to you from other sources. For assistance in determining coverage you already have and comparing it to the rental company’s options, call your Trusted Choice® independent insurance agent today.
Business Travel Note: When you rent a car on a business trip, that’s an entirely different set of decisions, so again please talk with your Trusted Choice® independent insurance agent.
12/01/2011 | No Comments
An article from Trusted Choice about safe online shopping this holiday season:
Get Deals, Not Steals: Tips for Shopping Safely Online
Thanksgiving is over, and the holidays are in full swing, which means stores and malls are bustling with holiday shoppers looking for presents to put under the tree. While some people enjoy the adventure of going from store to store in search of that perfect gift, others seek refuge from the holiday crowds by buying their gifts online.
While shopping online can be a less stressful and often money-saving alternative, the convenience of shopping from the comfort of your home comes with some risks. Cyber attackers and scammers are just waiting to prey on those who don’t properly protect their personal information, such as credit and debit card numbers and bank account information.
If you’re planning to be one of the millions of people who shop online this holiday season avoid the holiday blues by following these cyber shopping safety tips.
• Shop only on secure website. To determine if a site is safe, look at the address box for an “s” in https:// and check the lower right corner of the page for a lock symbol. Both of these things indicate that a site is safe to use for purchases. You can also check with the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org) for information about a company’s reputation and customer satisfaction rating.
• Use credit, not debit. Credit cards provide additional protection from theft that many debit cards don’t offer. If your credit card information is stolen, you’re only responsible for up to $50 in charges as long as you report the theft within 30 days (reporting time varies by company). If your debit card is stolen, a thief can empty your bank account without your knowledge and it can take a substantial amount of time to recover the stolen money.
• Keep track of your receipts and credit card statements. When you make a purchase online, save the receipt and a copy of the confirmation page for your records. Check this documentation against your credit card statements to make sure there aren’t any suspicious or unauthorized transactions. Keeping proof of a purchase also helps resolve any issues that may arise with the order.
• Do your online shopping at home. Don’t use unsecured Internet connections available in many coffee shops, libraries, and other public places where your information is not secure. Also, avoid using public computers for online shopping since you don’t have control over the computer’s spyware or malware software.
If your credit card or personal information is stolen, your homeowner’s policy may cover your liability. Check with your Trusted Choice® independent insurance agent to find out if you’re protected from this type of loss or if you have any other questions regarding your policy.
11/18/2011 | No Comments
Trusted Choice has advice on avoiding food poisoning during this holiday season:
The holidays are almost here, which means hauling out the holly, stringing up the lights, and dashing through the snow. The holidays also mean lots of fun, festive parties to celebrate the season. These celebrations usually feature an array of delectable foods and tasty drinks that are dangerous to your waistline, but if you’re hosting a party, you have more to worry about than added pounds or lumpy gravy.
According to the Center for Disease Control, an estimated one in six people in the United States come down with food poisoning every year. And whether you’re preparing the food and drinks for your party yourself or purchasing them, you could be liable if your party guests get sick. Food poisoning doesn’t just happen to bad cooks either. Foods, such as bagged spinach — that’s supposedly pre-washed and ready to eat — can contain E. coli, which is undetectable to even the most well trained chef.
Fortunately, most homeowner’s insurance policies cover food poisoning situations in which your guests incur medical expenses or endure “pain and suffering” (i.e. missing work because they’re hovering over a toilet bowl). There are limits to both of these coverages and intentional poisoning is not covered (so don’t try slipping something into your pesky aunt’s pumpkin pie), but most policies provide protection from unintentional food-borne illness.
The best way to avoid a food-poisoning claim is to take the proper precautions when preparing your holiday fare. Here are some tips to ensure your guests leave with leftovers and fond memories, not food poisoning.
1. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw meat or poultry.
2. Use an anti-bacterial cleaner to wipe down any surfaces, including counters and cutting boards, that come into contact with raw meat or poultry.
3. Check the expiration date on foods before using them to cook or offering them to guests.
4. Wash all produce, even the kind that’s “pre-washed,” before using it.
5. Avoid cross-contamination by using separate utensils to stir raw and cooked food.
6. Make sure all foods are cooked to the appropriate temperature. This rule doesn’t apply to just meat and poultry either. Eggs, seafood, and even potatoes can cause illness if they are undercooked.
7. Don’t leave foods that require refrigeration or freezing out for more than two hours.
8. When in doubt, throw it out. If you’re unsure about any food – raw or cooked, prepared or homemade – don’t use it.
If you have questions about whether you homeowner’s policy covers food poisoning or any other party-related risk, your Trusted Choice® independent insurance agent is happy to answer any of your policy questions. You can even invite him or her to your party, just be sure the food is cooked!
11/03/2011 | No Comments
Tri-County Agency of Brick is a Trusted Choice® agency which means that we are dedicated to you and are always committed to treating you as a person, not a policy. Check out our Testimonials page that has a video with an excellent example of how fellow Trusted Choice® insurance agents swiftly stepped in after the devastating collapse of the Metrodome roof during the pinnacle of football season.
10/26/2011 | No Comments
Daylight Savings Time 2011 ends Sunday, November 6, 2011 which means that it’s almost time to switch the clocks back an hour. Daylight Savings Time is also a great reminder to check the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Checking and changing these batteries twice a year at Daylight Savings Time is a preventative measure that could end up saving a life.
10/20/2011 | No Comments
Plymouth Rock advises on how to create your own custom first aid kit to keep on hand in your car for emergencies:
Customize a First Aid Car-Kit For Yourself or Your Teen’s New Car
Be prepared for emergencies — Keep a first aid kit in your car with customized items and medications specifically for your family. If you decide to make your own kit, you can use this list to get started:
• over-the-counter pain medication
• alcohol wipes
• antiseptic hand cleaner
• medical adhesive tape
• 4 inch square sterile gauze
• triple-antibiotic ointment
• hydrogen peroxide
• instant cold packs
• latex exam gloves
10/14/2011 | 1 Comment
Some do-it-yourself suggestions for auto repair from Plymouth Rock.
Replacing Your Own Windshield Wipers
Save approximately $30
What You’ll Need: Screwdriver & Wiper Blade(s)
• Do-It-Yourself Costs: Estimated $13.46
• Shop Costs: Estimated $47.50
(parts and labor)
1. Check your owner’s manual (or auto supply store) for correct size blades to purchase for your car.
2. Turn the spring loaded wiper arm up. Make sure that you have pulled
the arm enough so that it stays in position without banging back on
3. Shove the release pin and take the blade assembly away from the wiper arm.
4. Now take the new wiper blade and glide it onto the arm. Put the clip into the hook until you hear the click sound. Put the wiper arm back onto the windshield and use the same procedure for the other wiper arm.
5. Open the hood and examine the windshield washer reservoir. Check the working of the new wiper blades by turning the switch on. enormous feeling of satisfaction.
Is your transmission slipping?
Save $1800 – $3500
No one wants an auto repair expense caused by a slipping transmission. You can reduce or even avoid such repairs if you learn to recognize early signs such as
1. Delay in acceleration. When placing your car into gear, there is a delay before the car begins accelerating.
2. Delay in shifting. In moving forward, there is a delay in the shifting of your transmission to the next gear.
3. Higher engine RPM’s. As you accelerate, your car engine’s RPM (revolutions per minute) are higher than normal.
Change a Headlight Bulb
For up to only $5
1. Open the hood and look behind the headlight assembly. You should only have to turn a retainer clip that holds the bulb in place. After the retainer clip is removed, carefully pull on the bulb. It may seem a little snug because of the rubber O-ring gasket that keeps it tight.
2. Once the bulb is removed, lift up on the clips that hold the wiring harness to the bulb. Remove and replace the bulb. Do not touch the glass part of the new bulb, this will shorten the life.
3. Reverse procedure to reinstall.
The statements made are not a substitute for what might be set forth in any manuals that describe the features, operation, or maintenance of your auto or home appliances and machines. In addition, the statements made are helpful suggestions and not a substitute for what a trained mechanic might recommend. If there is any discrepancy between the information in this communication and what is set forth in any manuals or stated by any trained mechanic, what is set forth in any manuals or stated by any trained mechanic shall govern.
10/05/2011 | 1 Comment
A great blog post from Trusted Choice:
There are times when man’s best friend becomes his worst nightmare. While
many dog owners cite “security” as the reason they keep canines, less than
1% of those bitten by dogs are unlawful intruders. A majority of
victims-more than 70 %-are children.
Dog attack victims in the US claim over $1 billion in monetary losses each
year, and the number is likely to climb. Costs are rising rapidly; the rate
of increase in dog bite injuries requiring medical treatment is 20 times
that of the number of dogs.
Most dog owners understand the risk but may not realize if and how their
home insurance will apply if their trusty hound takes a bite out of the
Home insurance companies will often inquire about dogs from the beginning
before agreeing whether or not to issue a policy. They rely on statistical
data to determine the probability and severity of attack. While history
proves that some breeds are more likely to strike than others (breeds most
often involved in attacks are Pit Bulls, German Shepherds and Rottweilers),
dogs of all breeds have proven capable of causing injury. They will likely
want to know such information as how much time the animal spends outside and
whether it is properly confined to your property.
It is important that you contact your home insurance company if considering
a canine for a roommate. Failure to disclose information about the animal
could cause the home insurance company to cancel your policy-and having a
policy cancelled for this reason will make it very difficult for you to find
a new policy elsewhere.
If the insurance company knows about your pup and is comfortable with his
history of behavior, a policy will be issued. The good news is that most
home insurance policies will cover costs associated with dog bites. Such
costs may fall under the Medical Payments portion of the policy, a specific
amount of insurance payable for medical costs regardless of fault. Costs for
which you are legally liable fall under the Personal Liability portion of
In most cases, the owner of a dog can be legally liable for injuries caused
by the dog. Therefore it is important you carefully consider the limits of
liability on your home insurance policy. A dog bite can lead to expensive
medical bills and other costs such as lost wages for the victim. More
serious attacks can permanently scar, disfigure or disable a victim, causing
considerable hardship, particularly if the victim is a child.
The unpredictable nature of the severity of injury and identity of victim
are important reasons why higher limits of liability are essential. In
addition to higher liability limits on your home insurance policy, ask your
Trusted Choice insurance professional about a personal umbrella policy. This policy can significantly increase the amount of liability insurance available for dog bites and other claims of liability against you or your family
10/05/2011 | No Comments
Halloween is creeping up on us soon! Here are some tips for parents to share with their kids from Halloween Safety Guide:
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