Avoid These Holiday Hazards

Avoid These Holiday Hazards & News You Can Use

This holiday season you want festivities filled with fun, family, and fab food…not insurance claims. Unfortunately, with each holiday season comes the potential for disaster. As you celebrate this season, keep the following in mind. It may not help with in-law issues, but it will, at least, give you peace of mind.

Cooking: According to the National Fire Protection Association, cooking is the leading cause of residential fires in the U.S. From deep-fried turkeys to pie bake-a-thons to reheating contributions to potluck suppers, cooking for the holidays offers the potential for kitchen fires. To improve your odds, closely monitor long cook times and take precautions to avoid spillovers.

Decorations: Festive decorations can also be fire hazards. Don’t leave candles unattended, especially with young kids around, and plan to clean out your fireplace by Thanksgiving. Water your Christmas tree often, don’t use lights with frayed wires, and don’t overload outlets.

Theft: The holidays are busy times for everyone, including thieves. Take steps to protect your property and your finances. Check your credit card statements and remain vigilant for cyber criminals. Protect more expensive purchases by placing them in a safe rather than under the tree. Also, check your homeowners insurance to make sure purchased gifts are covered; for high-value items, you may need to add a rider to your policy.

Finally, if Santa brings you something nice, don’t forget to add it to your home inventory for potential fire or robbery claims. And enjoy your peace of mind this holiday season.

This Month’s Smile: Making a Great Cat Video


Cat videos have the highest traffic ratings on the Internet. Maybe it’s because watching cats de-stresses us. Or it could be because cats are stubborn. Whatever. But if you want to go viral, you need to remember that your cat is the star, producer, and director of the show. You’re just the mildly entertaining human with a camera. To get your video, you’re going to need to remember these three tips inspired by Peter Gerstenzang’s How-to on catchannel.com: 1 Improvise. Your story line will be what your cat wants, not the other way around.

  1. Forget linear time. See #1.
  2. Shoot now, edit later. See #1 again. Maybe cat videos go viral because getting a cat to do anything long enough to get the camera and record it is totally newsworthy!

Fighting Speeders in Your City? Traffic Calming May Work



Certain areas have more car accidents than usual. Why? Speed limits are too high, corners are too tight, and intersections are less visible. Short of reconstructing the city, how can officials reduce accidents in these areas? Often they’ll opt for traffic-calming devices.

Traffic calming aims to improve the safety of pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers by slowing down or reducing car traffic, with the intent of changing driver behavior. There are many different options for controlling speeding traffic within a city. Here are a few of the more widely used:

Speed bumps: These are installed humps measuring approximately 3 to 4 inches high (8 to 10 cm) and spanning almost the entire width of a traffic lane. They are effective at slowing drivers, but unfortunately they also slow emergency vehicles. Older pedestrians may find speed bumps a tripping hazard.

Road painting: Murals painted on the street at certain dangerous intersections may slow down drivers, while at the same time beautifying the neighborhood. A form of street art, this solution is inexpensive to install, although it may not weather the test of time. Several North American cities are adopting this approach.

Chicanes and roundabouts: Chicanes are features that create extra turns in the road over short distances. A shallow S turn, for example, will cause drivers to slow down to navigate the curves. Roundabouts are circular intersections. Drivers travel around an island in the middle, yielding to other vehicles already in the intersection and slowing down in the process.

Save on Auto Insurance This Holiday Season

Wherever you live, winter brings the possibilities of storms. In the northern part of the country, whether we welcome him or not, Jack Frost will find his way to our doorsteps, along with ice storms and snow drifts.

In other areas, hurricanes, tornados, and all manner of other nasty weather will cause floods and wind damage. It’s winter again. But it’s also time for seasonal insurance savings.

Two methods of savings are often overlooked by car owners:

Seasonal rides

If you own a car that you don’t intend to expose to the elements this winter, you can save money by reducing your coverage during winter months. Whether it’s a collector car or a sporty coupe with no business on the road in a gale or snowstorm, if it’s not leaving your garage all winter, you can benefit from these savings.

Of course, even in the garage your car remains at risk; you will want it protected against theft or a storm that collapses your garage. But you also don’t want to pay for unnecessary insurance. The solution: remove your liability and collision coverage and maintain your comprehensive coverage. This should reduce your rates and still provide the protection you continue to need.

Home from college

Your student is coming home for the holidays! Providing he or she is studying at a college that is more than 100 miles away, you may already have saved on premiums by removing him or her from your policy.

However, if he or she is now returning, you may want to check with your insurance agent.

If your student’s annual mileage is less than 25% of your car’s total annual mileage, you may be able to switch him or her to an occasional driver; your student remains on your policy but not as a primary driver, and you can save on your car insurance premiums.