Trusted Choice’s tips for online shopping this holiday season

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 ( 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.
• Protect your personal information. Make sure your computer has the most up-to-date spam filters, anti-virus software, and anti-spyware installed to avoid unauthorized access to your computer. You should also read a site’s privacy policy thoroughly before making a purchase to ensure the information you’re providing is secure and won’t be sold to a third-party.
• 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.

Avoiding Food Poisoning During the Holiday Season

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!

The Trusted Choice® Commitment

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.

Get ready for Daylight Savings Time…

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.

Stay Prepared While Driving With A First Aid Kit For Your Car

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
• bandages/scissors
• triple-antibiotic ointment
• hydrogen peroxide
• instant cold packs
• latex exam gloves

Save money with DIY auto repair!

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)
Estimated Costs:
• Do-It-Yourself Costs: Estimated $13.46
(parts only)
• 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
the windshield.
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
these below.
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.

Who Let the Dogs Out?

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
your policy.

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

Halloween Safety

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:

  • Never, ever go into a strangers house or even ring their door for treats unless your parents are with you and say that it’s okay. There are some people in life that aren’t very nice to kids and you have to be careful. Always make sure that your mom or dad is within sight when you go out trick-or-treating.
  • Be careful when you cross a street. Make sure to look in both directions and make sure that there are no cars coming. If you have a little brother or sister with you, take their hand and help them get across the street, too. If the street has a stop light, wait until the cross walk light tells you that it’s okay to cross now, but still check before you cross, look both ways.
  • If you are an older kid or young teen, and going out with friends, make sure that your parents know where you are going and who you are going with. This may seem like a pain but they are your parents and they love you. They just want you to be safe.
  • If you can drive and are taking a bunch of friends to a party, make sure that you have enough gas to get there. You don’t want to run out on a dark street, all alone, like a bad horror movie!
  • If you parents give you a curfew, be home when they say. It builds trust between you and them and they are doing it for your own safety. If you are going to be late, call them and let them know.
  • Vandalism is never cool! Throwing eggs at cars and houses is not cool. Someone has to clean it up and it could be you, if you get caught. You can also be arrested and punished as a juvenile. So, don’t think that it’s fun only if you can get away with it. It’s never the right thing to do! Think about how you would feel if someone did that to your house and how bad it would make you feel.
  • Hurting animals is never acceptable behavior! Some people use Halloween as an excuse to hurt cats and that is just wrong! Not only is it illegal in most places to hurt or torture animals and punishable by law, you should never hurt a helpless living thing.


Drive Safe this Fall

09/09/2011 | No Comments has an excellent article about safe driving this fall.

(NewsUSA) – Autumn’s leaves are beautiful to see, but when wet or in piles, they present driving hazards unique to the season. The Car Care Council reminds drivers to prepare for fall driving conditions by having their vehicles’ tires, brakes and wipers checked before heading out.

Most motorists know that puddles or standing water can cause loss of control, and they adjust their driving accordingly. But fewer drivers, especially inexperienced ones or drivers new to an area with heavy foliage, are aware of the dangers of wet leaves.

A single layer of wet leaves can make braking, steering and stopping difficult. This effect is particularly dangerous at intersections and is intensified at downhill stop signs. Acceleration can be affected, too. Fishtailing can result on leaf-strewn interstate entrance ramps and other areas where hard accelerations may be necessary.

Even when dry, leaves can present a challenge. Piles of leaves can obscure potholes, curbs and street markings and even present a fire hazard should leaves contact a hot muffler or tailpipe.

The Council reminds motorists that tires can affect the car’s ride, handling, traction and safety, and that they are a critical connection between the car and the road in all types of driving conditions. To maximize tire life and safety, check the inflation pressure and the tread depth, and inspect the sidewalls for cracks or punctures. As a general rule, tires should be rotated every 6,000 miles and balanced.

The brake system is the car’s most important safety system. Brakes are a normal wear item for any car, and brake linings, drums and rotors, as well as brake fluid, should be checked at each oil change.

To help ensure the performance and safety of wipers, blades should be replaced every six months or when cracked, cut, torn, streaking or chattering. Windshield wiper fluid should be checked monthly, and only washer fluid should be used.

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer-education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers.

For more information or to receive a copy of the council’s new Car Care Guide for motorists, visit

It’s Back To School Time – Use These Tips for Safe Driving!

09/09/2011 | 2 Comments

Use these back to school driving tips from CAA to stay safe at the beginning of this school year and throughout the whole year!

The days are a little cooler, and there’s a crisp feeling to the air which is filled with the sounds of children groaning. It can only mean one thing: School is back in session. And, after a summer filled with easy driving with seemingly little traffic, the transition to crowded roadways teeming with people can be a difficult one. The most important thing to remember this back to school season is to make sure that you and those around you are safe when out on the road. These back to school safe driving tips will help ensure that everyone remains secure this school year.

1.) Observe School Zone Speeds
Although you should be obeying posted speed limits all the time, it is especially important during the school year. Children are continually crossing roads on their way to and from school and often aren’t paying attention, so going slowly and being vigilant is extremely crucial to keeping kids safe. In addition, children are often out at recess, lunch hour, and for certain classes, so it’s important to drive slowly the whole day and not just during high traffic times in the morning and afternoon.

2.) Obey the Crossing Guard
The crossing guard is there to keep children safe. So, if you come up to a set of lights, and the light turns green in your favour, but the crossing guard still says stop, his/her direction takes precedence. There might be a child still crossing the street that you can’t see or something else. Whatever the reason, they are trying to keep kids from harm, so it’s important to do what they say.

3.) Exercise Caution around School Buses
The school bus is a great way for kids to get to and from school, however, because of the large amount of children entering and exiting the bus at various stops, it’s imperative that extra caution is used when driving around a school bus. Obviously, you shouldn’t pass a school bus when the signal lights are flashing (as kids are often crossing the road at that time), and in addition, you should always watch your speed around school buses as a generally precautionary measure.

4.) Watch for Darting Children
Kids are small, excitable creatures and unfortunately for drivers, this can create dangerous situations on the roads. It’s important to be continually vigilant and alert behind the wheel this back to school season. You never know when a small child might dart out from between two parked cars and your fast reflexes are what’s needed to prevent an accident.

5.) Don’t Forget about the Frosh
It’s back to school season for more than just little kids. If you live in an area that has a college or university, you’re probably used to the massive number of students invading your home town each fall, and probably don’t think much of it. However these students are often not as cautious as they normally would be (especially if it’s their freshman year), and cross the roads without looking. Being extra vigilant around these students could save both an accident and a life.

The back to school season is a time of excitement and new beginnings, but before you head out on the road this season, be sure to refresh your memory on safe driving tips, so that everyone’s new beginning is a safe one.

LINK: 5 Tips for Back to School Driving Safety from CAA

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