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Fall Home Maintenance…Get to it while the weather is still good!

 

Fall-home-maintenance-tipsHere in New England, we’re (hopefully) all wise enough to know that the last thing you want to be dealing with in the middle of the winter is a dead furnace, chimney fire, or leaking roof. So here are a few key maintenance tasks to handle now, while the weather is still accommodating: Read the rest of this entry »

How to Get Your Free Credit Report

 

annual-credit-report-dot-comIt’s a wise idea to check your credit report every year to make sure that no one has set up credit using your name. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires that each of the nationwide credit reporting companies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — provide a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. Read the rest of this entry »

New mobile phone rules for commercial (CMV) drivers

commercial driver cell phone use banned

 

Efforts to reduce or eliminate distracted driving on our highways are not exclusively focused on passenger vehicles. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) have new published rules specifically prohibiting interstate truck and bus drivers and drivers who transport placardable quantities of hazardous materials from texting or using hand-held mobile phones while operating their vehicles. The joint rules are the latest actions by the U.S. Department of Transportation to end distracted driving. Violations can result in fines and/or driver disqualifications and will impact a motor carrier’s and/or driver’s Safety Measurement System results. Read the rest of this entry »

If you rent and don’t have renters insurance—what’s your excuse?

 

rentersOnly 37% of renters have renters insurance. And surveys indicate that most of the reasons are based on misconceptions about the insurance. Here are a few of those excuses (unfounded reasons):

 

Excuse #1: It costs too much:

Reality: renters insurance costs on average $15/month ($180/year, and it’s less than that if you have it with your car insurance company.) In a 2013 survey 60% thought it costs more than $250; 21% thought renters insurance costs more that $1000.

Compare $15/month to the $148/month that 2/3 of American workers spend on lunch…and it puts the value in perspective. Read the rest of this entry »

Moving? Watch Out for Rogue Moving Companies.

 

Moving truckMost moving companies are reputable. But as in any industry, you’ll find fraudulent operations—in this case, rogue movers—and there are a number of warning signs you should know in order to avoid falling for a scam. Read the rest of this entry »

Are You Sure You Have the Best Rate on Your Car Insurance?

file8271306993793

 

We saved a client some significant money this past week. This wasn’t a one-time event; it happens regularly. But the specifics of the situation made us stop and think this presented a great opportunity to share some of the circumstances so you can check your own policy and see if they apply to you.

Read the rest of this entry »

How about the RIGHT insurance protection…in 15 minutes or less!

 

If you watch any television at all, you probably have seen the insurance company ads competing with each other over which one can save you the most time arranging your car insurance. Really….time? Let’s think about that for a minute: Read the rest of this entry »

Safety Around School Buses

 

School is back in session next week. That means kids walking to school, kids waiting at bus stops (excited to see their friends, and not necessarily thinking about you in your car) and on many occasions a slowed commute for you when you’re driving behind one of those buses that stops at what feels like every other house on the road. But if you find yourself there, take a deep breath. Being a few minutes late is nothing compared to the catastrophe that would ensue if you were to hit a child.

 

So before school starts again, here’s a quick refresher on the rules:

  school_bus_stop_diagram

 

Bus-DangerZone2The accidents in which a child is struck by a car usually occur in what’s known as the “Danger Zone” which is the 10-foot area around all sides of the bus. According to School Transportation News, an average of 19 children are killed getting on and off the bus each year. Most are between 5 and 7 years of age. And 38% of those fatalities occur between 3 and 4pm rather than during the morning hours.

 

 

 

 

The Law

School buses are required to have bold signage directing you to stay 100 feet back. And you hopefully know that when the yellow flashing lights are on, you need to slow down in preparation to stop. When the red flashing lights are on and the STOP arm is extended, you must come to a complete stop and not proceed until the lights are turned off and the STOP arm is retracted.

 

Impact on your insurance

Hopefully, the greatest motivation to follow the law is to protect the lives of the children on the bus. But if you think of ignoring the rules because you’re really late…and that a child won’t appear out of nowhere at the last minute …think about the fact that (a) you’ll hopefully get an expensive ticket for your horrible driving judgment and (b) that will put points on your insurance (that last for 6 years). A double cost whammy.

 

Over 23 million children ride school buses to elementary and secondary school every year. And even though the system is one of the largest and safest, there are still around 17,000 children in emergency rooms each year from bus-related injuries. So think about that when you’re tempted to try to beat the yellow flashing lights before it turns to red, or driving forward before the bus driver has indicated that every child is safely out of harm’s way. Because there’s nothing more precious than our children.

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How to Avoid Common Home Buyer Mistakes

 

Family in front of homeYou’ve probably noticed this yourself recently – there are more houses on the market lately. With an increase in consumer confidence, the decrease in unemployment, and a built-up supply and demand, it’s not surprising.

 

If you find yourself in the market for a new house, here are a few key tips (courtesy of Trusted Choice) on mistakes to avoid in the process.

  Read the rest of this entry »

Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over. Penalties for OUI in MA

 

drivesober1Today, August 13, you’ll start to see the national campaign on television about driving sober. The message is: if you decide to drink and drive, be assured that the police will see you before you see them and the consequences are serious. This is a concerted effort to raise awareness of the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs; it’s also a period of increased enforcement by police departments across the country.

 

Our thinking: it’s not a matter of hoping the police won’t see you when you’re driving after drinking. It’s about KNOWING that if you drink and then get behind the wheel, you’re risking your own life, your friends’ lives, and the lives of everyone on the road around you.  And if you get pulled over, any penalty you receive is richly deserved.

 

So if you’re not concerned about your own life, and the lives of the people around you… think about fines, potential jail time, and a loss of your license. Here’s an abridged summary of MA OUI laws to think about:

 

First, how does Massachusetts define OUI?

Massachusetts uses your blood alcohol content (BAC) to determine whether you’re legally driving under the influence.

  • 0.08% or higher―Drivers 21 years old and older operating regular passenger vehicles.
  • 0.04% or higher―Drivers operating commercial vehicles.
  • 0.02% or higher―Drivers younger than 21 years old.

 

What are the penalties for driving above those BAC limits?

If you’re convicted of Operating Under the Influence of alcohol or drugs, or some other abused chemical substance, your penalties depend largely on the number of offenses you’ve had as well as your entire driving history.

MA OUI Penalties

 

The above applies to passenger vehicle operators. If you have a commercial driver’s licenses and are convicted of OUI, you face minimum 1-year suspension of license (3 if you are carrying hazardous materials). Second offense means the loss of your commercial license for life. (You probably already lost your job on the first offense.)

 

 Open Container Law

It’s illegal to operate a motor vehicle with an open container of alcohol anywhere in the vehicle, no matter who’s holding it. Break this law and you face a $100 – $500 fine.

 

What about the Breathalyzer?

Failed Tests:

  • All Drivers: automatic 30 day suspension, plus any additional time imposed by court
  • 18-21 years old: additional 180 days license suspension and Youth Alcohol Program
  • Under 18: additional one year license suspension and Youth Alcohol Program

There are those who will tell you to refuse to take the Breathalyzer test. Here are the automatic penalties if you decide on to do that.

21 years of age and older:

  • First offense: 180 days.
  • Second offense: 3 years.
  • Third offense: 5 years.
  • Fourth or subsequent offense: Lifetime.

Younger Than 21:

  • First offense: 3 years.
  • Second offense: 3 years.
  • Third offense: 5 years.
  • Fourth or subsequent offense: Lifetime.

 

BOTTOM LINE:

Don’t try to figure out if you’re OK to drive if you’ve been drinking…your judgment is impaired. Just make the decision to find another way home. Have a designated driver. If you don’t, take a cab home. If that’s not an option, call a family member or friend to pick you up…or simply stay where you are.

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