Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category



Tips for Writing Better Emails

Friday, March 7th, 2014

While we usually write insurance related blogs, we decided to share some tips that are relevant to all of our clients: ways to write better emails.  Steve Anderson recently wrote a blog as part of his “Tech Tips” on “Seven Ways to Write Better Emails”.

Here they are:

1. Include only one request per email.

This may sound counter-intuitive because you may end up sending more emails. But, multiple requests slow things down. When you only have one topic in an email, the individual can reply to that email with the information you need. When you make multiple requests in one email, the recipient may need to keep that email longer in their inbox so they can answer each of the requests you have made.

2. Use a subject line that reflects the topic and urgency.

Most people will scan the subject line to get an idea of how important and how urgent your email is. By putting the topic and the urgency in the subject line you will help them be able to prioritize when and how fast they need to answer your email.

3. Get to the point quickly.

The first sentence in your email should be a clear explanation of the request you are making. Any explanation for the reason for the request should be included in subsequent paragraphs.

4. Keep the email as brief as possible.

You are trying to help the individual to whom you are sending this email to be able to respond to your request or provide the information that you need as quickly and easily as possible. Keeping the details as brief as possible will help them save time and, hopefully, provide you with a quicker response.

5. Provide “if-then” options.

If there are multiple possible outcomes or ways to provide the information then give the recipient a list of the options that you know are possible. They then will be able to choose a different option without having to reply and ask for additional information. This will cut down on the number of times they need to ask more detailed questions.

6. Don’t send “me too” emails unless absolutely necessary.

This is especially true when sending emails to a group of people. There is little that’s more annoying for others than to read a string of emails that all say “me too!” This applies to “thank you” emails also. I seldom send a reply to an email simply to thank the individual.

7. Proof your emails before sending them.

To make sure you have time to proof your emails you may want to set up your Outlook to not automatically send emails immediately. Or, save your emails as a draft and let them sit for a few minutes before you click Send so you can reread them to make sure they are actually saying what you intended. This will cut down on the number of questions and/or clarifications you may have to deal with later.

For more information, go to http://techtips.steveanderson.com/

Winter Driving Safety Tips

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

Do you feel like winter is never going to end??? We do!  Here are some tips for safe driving this winter (from weather.com)

  1. Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
  2. Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.
  3. Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.
  4. Keep your lights and windshield clean.
  5. Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.
  6. Don’t use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.
  7. Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.
  8. Don’t pass snow plows and sanding trucks. The drivers have limited visibility, and you’re likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.
  9. Don’t assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads.

If your rear wheels skid…

  1. Take your foot off the accelerator.
  2. Steer in the direction you want the front wheels to go. If your rear wheels are sliding left, steer left. If they’re sliding right, steer right.
  3. If your rear wheels start sliding the other way as you recover, ease the steering wheel toward that side. You might have to steer left and right a few times to get your vehicle completely under control.
  4. If you have standard brakes, pump them gently.
  5. If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS), do not pump the brakes. Apply steady pressure to the brakes. You will feel the brakes pulse — this is normal.

If your front wheels skid…

  1. Take your foot off the gas and shift to neutral, but don’t try to steer immediately.
  2. As the wheels skid sideways, they will slow the vehicle and traction will return. As it does, steer in the direction you want to go. Then put the transmission in “drive” or release the clutch, and accelerate gently.

If you get stuck…

  1. Do not spin your wheels. This will only dig you in deeper.
  2. Turn your wheels from side to side a few times to push snow out of the way.
  3. Use a light touch on the gas, to ease your car out.
  4. Use a shovel to clear snow away from the wheels and the underside of the car.
  5. Pour sand, kitty litter, gravel or salt in the path of the wheels, to help get traction.
  6. Try rocking the vehicle. (Check your owner’s manual first — it can damage the transmission on some vehicles.) Shift from forward to reverse, and back again. Each time you’re in gear, give a light touch on the gas until the vehicle gets going.

For more info: http://www.weather.com/activities/driving/drivingsafety/drivingsafetytips/snow.html

Rental Car Insurance – what to do?

Monday, February 17th, 2014

The Insurance Information Institute recently published an article on Rental Car Insurance and we thought we’d sum it up for you.

As you know, insuring a rental car can be confusing and many consumers do not even think about whether or not to purchase the rental car insurance until they get to the counter – this can result in costly mistakes (either by purchasing unnecessary coverage or having gaps in coverage).

There are two places to look before deciding on coverage – your insurance company and your credit card company.

Insurance Company - find out how much auto insurance you have on your own car. In most cases, your coverage and deductibles  on your auto insurance would apply when you rent a car (given you are not using the car for business).  If you don’t have collision or comprehensive coverage on your car, you will not be covered should your rental car be stolen or damaged in an accident.

Credit Car Company: Insurance benefits from a credit card company vary greatly by company and card. Many credit cards cover damage to or loss of the rented vehicle, but does not cover for other cars, personal belongings or the property of others.  To be certain what your card covers, call them and inquire.

For more information, check out this article: http://www2.iii.org/articles/do-i-need-separate-rental-car-insurance.html

Insuring Your Valentines Day Gems

Friday, February 14th, 2014

It’s Valentines Day – notorious for chocolate, cards, flowers and jewelry!  In fact, Americans are estimated to spend nearly $18 billion on Valentines Day this year to impress their significant others.  If you are planning on giving a nice piece of jewelry to your loved one, or you are the recipient of new jewelry, don’t forget to insure your bling.

Here’s a refresh on the basics of insuring jewelry.

Limits:

Your limits can be found on the declaration page of your homeowners or renters policy.  Jewelry falls under contents coverage but most standard homeowners policies have strict limits for jewelry.  That’s why it’s important to contact your insurance agent when you get or give a new piece of jewelry (typically valued over $1000).

Coverages:

You have two options when it comes to insuring jewelry: scheduling an endorsement or purchasing a personal items floater.  An endorsement is essentially an add-on  to your existing policy, extending the limits of your coverage.  A floater is a separate policy; while it usually costs more than an endorsement, it typically includes all-perils coverage – meaning it covers for everything from flood to theft to mysterious disappearance.

Either option you choose, it’s essential that you get an appraisal for your item.  Give us a call and we will take care of everything for you, so you can be sure that your new (or old) bling is properly insured!

Happy Valentines Day!

EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT ICE DAMS

Friday, January 31st, 2014

What they are, how to avoid them and what to do if you have one

Ice dams in Massachusetts are an ongoing nuisance and cause extensive water damage to homes and structures. Recent record-breaking winters throughout the country have caused damage to tens of thousands of homes as a result of ice damning.

What is it and how does it work:

An ice dam occurs when snow accumulates on the slanted roof of a house with inadequate insulation. Heat conducted through the insufficient insulation and warm air from the attic bypasses warms the roof and melts the snow on those areas of the roof that are above living spaces, but does not melt the snow on roof overhangs. Meltwater flows down the roof, under the blanket of snow, onto the eave and into the gutter, where colder conditions on the overhang cause it to freeze. Eventually, ice accumulates along the eave and in the gutter. Snow that melts later cannot drain properly through the ice on the eave and in the gutter, resulting in leaks to the roof space resulting in damaged ceilings, walls, roof structure and insulation.

Primary Prevention Measures:

  • Insulation – Installing additional insulation on the attic floor will reduce the temperature in the attic. Keep in mind once you reach the area’s optimal R-Value (a measure of the insulating value of a material), a further increase in the amount of insulation will not show an appreciable decrease in heat loss.
  • Weather stripping – And/or insulation can also be installed on attic stairways or hatchways and on attic floor-mounted louvers for whole house ventilation fans. Review manufacturer specifications on the fans or recessed lighting fixtures if the additional insulation will adversely affect their performance.
  • Ventilation – Without an adequate amount of ventilation, heat will build up despite the amount of insulation. Ventilation will also remove water vapor that can condense in the attic and result in dry rot and rust. If the house roof has an overhang, or soffit, vents can be added to these soffit areas. A ridge vent can also be added. This vent is mounted along the length of the peak of the roof. The cold outside air that enters the soffit vents rises along the inside of the roof and exits through the ridge vent. This action cools the roof and removes moisture at the same time.

Frequently Asked Questions (Courtesy of Travelers Insurance: https://www.travelers.com/prepare-prevent/home-property/winter-weather/ice-dams.aspx)

Q. How do I know if there is too much snow and ice on my roof?

A. The answer depends on a number of factors, including the roof type, construction technique, and age and condition of the structure. As a rule of thumb, if there is more than a foot of heavy, wet snow and ice on your roof, you should try to have it removed.

Q. How should I remove the snow and ice that has accumulated from my roof?

A. If you have a flat roof that is easily reached from an interior stairway, you may want to shovel the roof. Remember to put safety first any time you are on a roof, especially one that is covered in snow and ice. If you have any doubt, leave it to the professionals.

If you have a sloped roof, it may be possible to remove the snow and ice using a roof rake, a long-handled tool designed specifically for this purpose. Stand on the ground and pull as much of the snow off the eaves as you can safely reach. It is not necessary to remove all the snow; removing the first three to four feet of snow closest to the gutters will help alleviate these issues.

Q. What if I can’t reach the roof at all?

A. Many homebuilders, landscaping and roofing contractors, and property maintenance companies will remove snow and ice from roofs. Before hiring a contractor, Travelers encourages you to check references. Always be sure your contractor is insured and bonded.

We do not recommend using a ladder in snowy and icy conditions. This can be extremely dangerous and is best left to professionals.

Q. Will my insurance company pay to have snow and ice removed from my roof?

A. Each claim is unique, and coverage and claim decisions always require an expert analysis by a licensed Claim professional. However, property owners are generally responsible for preventive maintenance. Keep in mind that the cost of snow removal is likely to be considerably smaller than the cost of roof damage or interior property damage caused by water leaks.

Q. I already have an ice dam on my roof. What should I do about it?

A. If you can reach the roof safely, try to knock the ice dam off with a roof rake, or cut a channel through the ice to allow standing water to drain. If you cannot reach the roof safely, consider hiring a contractor to remove it.

Another method is to fill a nylon stocking with calcium chloride ice melt and place it vertically across the ice dam so that it melts a channel through the dam. If you try this method, make sure you can safely position the ice melt on your roof, and make sure to use calcium chloride, not rock salt. Rock salt will damage your roof. Also be aware that shrubbery and plantings near the gutter or downspout may be damaged.

Q. I have an ice dam. How can I tell if it has caused damage inside my home?

A. Look for water stains or moisture in the attic or around the tops of exterior walls on the top floor. Just because an ice dam is present does not necessarily mean water has penetrated the roof membrane. However, it is always best to remove ice dams before they have the opportunity to cause damage.

Q. I have giant icicles hanging off my gutters. What should I do?

A. Look carefully at where the ice is. If the icicles are confined to the gutters and there is no water trapped behind them, this does not indicate the presence of an ice dam. However, large icicles can pose a danger to people when they fall off. Try to safely knock the icicles off from the ground, making sure not to stand directly beneath them. If you cannot reach them safely from the ground, consider hiring a contractor to help.

Q. What else can I do to protect my home?

A. An easy way to help snow and ice drain off your roof is to make sure the area around your downspouts is clear. This will make it possible for your gutters to drain when snow does melt. It will also help prevent flooding when the snow and ice melts.

Q. How do I keep this from happening again next year?

A. Using a roof rake to clear the first three to four feet of snow from your roof immediately after each winter storm is an effective approach to preventing ice dams from forming.

Ultimately, the best prevention for ice dams is to eliminate the conditions that make it possible for them to form in the first place. Making sure your attic is well insulated will help prevent the melting-and-freezing cycle that causes ice dams to form.

Also, when replacing a roof, make sure to install a water membrane underneath the shingles. This acts as an extra barrier that helps prevent water from seeping inside the building.

Q. What should I do if there is damage to my home?

A. Call Aronson Insurance: 781.444.3050

SNOW REMOVAL: Snow Removal on your roof, Snow Removal on the ground

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

Snow Removal On Your Roof

Let’s start off by discussing the three cardinal rules of Removing Snow From a Roof:

1) NEVER attempt to Climb, Stand or Walk on the Roof

2) NEVER attempt to Climb, Stand or Walk on the Roof

3) NEVER attempt to Climb, Stand or Walk on the Roof

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s discuss removal tips:

  • If you have a flat roof that is easily reached from an interior stairway, you may want to shovel the roof. Remember to put safety first any time you are on a roof, especially one that is covered in snow and ice. If you have any doubt, leave it to the professionals.
  • If you have a sloped roof, it may be possible to remove the snow and ice using a roof rake, a long-handled tool designed specifically for this purpose. Stand on the ground and pull as much of the snow off the eaves as you can safely reach. It is not necessary to remove all the snow; removing the first three to four feet of snow closest to the gutters will help alleviate these issues.
  • Many homebuilders, landscaping and roofing contractors, and property maintenance companies will remove snow and ice from roofs. Before hiring a contractor, Aronson encourages you to check references. Always be sure your contractor is insured and bonded.

We do not recommend using a ladder in snowy and icy conditions. This can be extremely dangerous and is best left to professionals.

Roof Rakes: Use a roof rake to remove snow from the roof. This action will help slow down an “ice dam’s” growth. Roof rakes work best if the snow is light and less crusty. Using a roof rake while standing on a ladder can be dangerous. Use caution.

Don’t wait till the hardware store is sold out, get one before it’s too late!  They are most generally available at your local hardware store but you can also order them online (like here)

Snow Removal (on the ground) Tips:

Tips to prevent injuries while shoveling and using a snow blower:

• Check with your doctor. Because this activity places high stress on the heart, speak with your physician first.  If you have a medical condition or do not exercise regularly, consider hiring someone to remove the snow.

• Dress appropriately. Light, layered, water-repellent clothing provides both ventilation and insulation. It also is important to wear the appropriate head coverings, as well as mittens or gloves and thick, warm socks. Take a break if you feel yourself getting too hot or too cold.

• See what you are shoveling/snow blowing. Make sure your hat or scarf does not block your vision. Watch for ice patches and uneven surfaces. Avoid falls by wearing shoes or boots that have slip-resistant soles.

• Clear snow early and often. Begin when a light covering of snow is on the ground to avoid trying to clear packed, heavy snow.

When shoveling:

• Warm up your muscles. Shoveling can be vigorous activity. Before you begin, warm up your muscles for 10 minutes with light exercise.

• Pace yourself. Take frequent breaks and replenish fluids to prevent dehydration. If you experience chest pain, shortness of breath or other signs of a heart attack, seek immediate emergency care.

• Use a shovel that is comfortable for your height and strength. Do not use a shovel that is too heavy or too long.  Consider buying a shovel specially designed to prevent too much stooping. Space your hands on the tool grip to increase your leverage.

• When possible, push the snow instead of lifting it. If you must lift, take small amounts of snow, and lift it with your legs: Squat with your legs apart, knees bent and back straight. Lift by straightening your legs, without bending at the waist. Then walk to where you want to dump the snow; holding a shovel of snow with your arms outstretched puts too much weight on your spine.

• Do not throw the snow over your shoulder or to the side. This requires a twisting motion that stresses your back.

When snow blowing:

• Never stick your hands or feet in the snow blower. If snow becomes too impacted, stop the engine and wait at least five seconds before using a solid object to clear wet snow or debris from the chute. Beware of the motor and blades’ recoil after the machine has been turned off.

• Do not leave the snow blower unattended when it is running. Shut off the engine if you must walk away from the machine.

• Watch the snow blower cord. If you are operating an electric snow blower, be aware of where the power cord is at all times, so you do not trip and fall.

• Add fuel before starting the snow blower. Never add fuel when the engine is running or hot. Do not operate the machine is an enclosed area.

• Read the instruction manual. Prior to using a snow blower, read the instruction manual for specific safety hazards, unfamiliar features, and whenever attempting to repair or maintain the snow blower.

Our Private Client Group

Friday, January 17th, 2014

A recent article from Insurance Journal caught our eye this week, “High-Net Worth Personal Lines”. The article explains that high-net worth personal lines segments were a high priority in 2013. As such, many insurance companies and specialists increased their product offerings and hired new staff in order to focus on this specialized risk. The article also states that most affluent individuals are under or inadequately insured.

Executive Vice President of AIG Personal Lines said, “Many clients – almost half or more – are not with proper insurance programs, with good risk managers in the form of high-net worth agencies”.

At Aronson Insurance, we specialize in providing specialized insurance solutions to high-net worth individuals. We even have a Private Client Group that focuses exclusively on this. While all clients deserve First Class service, some require more attention than others. They have more, they buy more, they do more, they need more. Our Private Client Group was created just for them.

By identifying our Private Client Group clients, we are able to provide better service to all of our clients. Since PCG policyholders require more of our service team’s time, and often have more sophisticated needs, we can assign the right Account Managers to the right clients.
Some of the unique circumstances that we provide for our clients include:
• Very high value homes ($5,000,000 and up)
• Substantial deductible ($100,000 and up)
• Foreign properties (Canada, Caribbean, Europe, etc.)
• Large collections (Jewelry, Fine Arts, Rugs, Antiques, etc.)
• Unique cars
• Yachts
• Very high limit umbrellas ($10,000,000 and up)
• Domestic workers (Workers Compensation, Employment Practices)
• Private D & O

Please call us today to learn more about our Private Client Group: 781-444-3050

Protecting Your Home from Water Damage

Monday, January 13th, 2014

Whether caused by prolonged rain, heavy snowfall, old appliance hoses, frozen or corroded pipes, or even clogged drains, water damage is not only inconvenient, but also costly. Routine inspection and maintenance can help you keep water where it belongs. Use the following tips to identify potential problem areas in and around your house. While you can’t control Mother Nature, preventive household measures can minimize the possibility of water damage and costly repairs.

Know Your Water Supply

  • Water Shutoff Valves. Know where shutoff valves for the main water supply, certain appliances, sinks and toilets are located in your home. In the event of a leak, this will enable you to quickly shut off the appropriate valves before calling a plumber. Consider shutting off your water supply if you will be away from home for a week or more.
  • Plumbing Pipes. Inspect your plumbing water lines and waste lines for leaks, damage or corrosion. If you notice problems, hire a licensed plumber for further inspection and repairs.

Maintaining Major Appliances

  • Water Heater. The average lifespan of a water heater is 7-10 years. If you notice puddles around your water heater, it should be replaced. Hire a licensed plumber to inspect and flush your water heater annually.
  • Appliance Water Hoses. Washing machines, dishwashers, icemakers, air conditioners and garbage disposals all use water to operate. Inspect these appliances for leaks, and periodically replace the supply hoses. Shut off the water supply to the washing machine before leaving your home for an extended period of time.
  • Moisture-Producing Appliances. Vent your clothes dryer, stove and kerosene heater outside where possible. Use exhaust fans or open windows when cooking or running the dishwasher.
  • Sump Pumps. If your basement is prone to leaks or flooding, a sump pump is the best defense. It’s important to keep it well maintained and tested regularly. Most sump pumps last about 10 years. Follow the manufacturer’s suggestions for testing and optimal operation. The areas around the pump should be clear of debris. A battery backup is recommended to ensure proper operation during power outages.
  • Humistat. Keep indoor moisture low (ideally between 30-50% relative humidity). Consider purchasing an inexpensive humidity meter, available at local hardware stores.
  • Air Conditioner. Keep drip pans clean and the drain lines unobstructed and flowing properly.

Other Areas

  • Bathrooms. Check caulking around tubs and shower stalls to ensure that a watertight seal is maintained. To reduce moisture, use an exhaust fan or open a window while showering.
  • Basement. Periodically inspect your foundation walls and floors for cracks that might allow water seepage, especially if you live in an older home or an area with poor soil drainage. Avoid storing valuables in your basement. For household supplies and other inexpensive items, use storage racks or shelves to elevate items several inches above the floor.
  • Attics Ensure there is adequate ventilation in all attic and overhang areas to prevent leaks.

Freezing Pipes

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

It is literally freezing out and it is so important to protect against freezing pipes. If you haven’t already done so, you should wait until the temperature rises above freezing. When it does, it is important to shut off the water to the outside of the home.

Why do pipes freeze? Here’s what the Red Cross says: “Water has a unique property in that it expands as it freezes. This expansion puts tremendous pressure on whatever is containing it, including metal or plastic pipes. No matter the “strength” of a container, expanding water can cause pipes to break. Pipes that freeze most frequently are those that are exposed to severe cold, like outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, water sprinkler lines, and water supply pipes in unheated interior areas like basements and crawl spaces, attics, garages, or kitchen cabinets. Pipes that run against exterior walls that have little or no insulation are also subject to freezing.”
Here are some tips from the Red Cross:• Remove, drain, and store hoses used outdoors. Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain. Keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break.
• Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
• When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe – even at a trickle – helps prevent pipes from freezing.
• Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
• If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.
For more tips, visit: http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/winter-storm/preventing-thawing-frozen-pipes

Cyber Liability Insurance – why it’s important

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

Can you afford a data breach which typically results from a simple mistake? The very technology that your company relies on to conduct its business may also increase its vulnerability to costly electronic security threats. Cyber threats on businesses are increasingly common and are on the rise. In a 2013 survey, Symantec Corporation found that the number of cyber attacks on enterprises increased 42% in 2012 over 2011 and 50% of the attacks were on companies with less than 2,500 employees, with 31% having less than 250 employees.

Why Your Company Needs Cyber Insurance:
- A security breach could result in losses of hundred of thousands or even millions of dollars, not to mention an incalculable loss of reputation;
- The culprit may be someone close to your business… or they could be on the other side of the world;
- A breach can result from a simple mistake (an employee loses a company laptop, iPhone, etc.);
- Federal or state laws may mandate that your company take certain measures in the event of a security breach;
- The more people from whom your company collects personal information, the broader your exposure is and the more you need insurance protection.

Call Aronson Insurance today to inquire about Cyber Liability Insurance Protection: 781-444-350