Preparing your property for a hurricane

Getting Your Property Ready for a Hurricane

There are many measures you can take that can help your home fare better in various hurricane conditions. But, as we learned from Hurricane Irma, it is important to take timely actions for hurricane preparedness in and around your home. Roofs, doors, windows, and garage doors, and multiple other points around your home are the most vulnerable to breaches by hurricane winds, water surges, and flooding. And, there are likely to be various conditions existing in and around your home that increase your home’s risk of hurricane damage. Here are some tips for getting your home ready for a hurricane.

  1. Secure your windows.

Experts suggest that merely taping across windows is a futile effort that may give homeowners a false sense of security during a hurricane. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) advises providing more realistic protection for your home, its contents, and especially for occupants, by securing your all windows with properly hinged storm shutters.

Purchase commercial quality shutters at your local home improvement store, or have a professional contractor install storm quality shutters on your home. Ideally, this should be completed before a hurricane is moving toward your area.

The alternative emergency measure of recessing plywood sheets into window cavities is recommended to help protect against an approaching hurricane. This approach is known to work better than just nailing boards across the windows. See The National Hurricane Center website for detailed instructions for installing temporary recessed plywood shutters.

Although shatter-resistant glass or window films may be helpful, according to the NHC, these are not comparable to shutters in the degrees of protection they provide. Hurricane experts agree with typical building codes, which do not accept window film as adequate window treatment for protection of homes against hurricane.

  1. Secure your doors.

Adding commercial storm doors is recommended, especially over any door consisting mostly of large panels of glass, such as French doors or sliding glass patio doors, per the NHC. For all home doors, experts suggest additionally installing barrel bolt latches with bolts extending into the door header and into the floor.

  1. Secure your garage doors.

Garage doors that are not hurricane rated should be shuttered with storm quality shutters. Or, as an emergency preparation, cover the expansive door with recessed plywood and add exterior bracing to better secure the door. Obtain advice from your local home improvement store representative about commercial retrofit hurricane protection systems for your garage door.

Explore alternatives such as commercial or home-made braces that can help protect the door against buckling in. However, neither braces nor retrofit storm kits can protect against impact by projectiles. Consider installing metal or wooden girds, and other precautions you can take to make your garage door more secure during a hurricane.

  1. Protect against water entry in small openings.

Install sealed plates or utility inlet shutters at all necessary points throughout your home and around its exterior. This includes any insufficiently sealed areas around vents or HVAC ductwork, plumbing pipe and electrical conduit entry points into your home. Secure roof ridge, gable, and soffit vents.

  1. Clean up all potential projectiles from your yard.

Trim tree branches, and remove dead or damaged trees, to prevent them from uprooting and becoming  projectiles in hurricane winds. Remove all lawn furniture, dog houses, yard decor, potted plants, trash cans, recycling bins, and toys, if possible. Disassemble barbecue and fire pits, swing sets, and trampolines and temporarily store these in the garage.

  1. Fortify your roof.

Repair any roof defects that render your roof more susceptible and further fortify the roof, if possible. Consider hurricane straps, if appropriate for your roof. Use duct tape to seal gaps, where appropriate. Especially if your roof is aged, consult with your local roofing expert about roof replacement with one of the several roof types recommended as most effective in protecting homes against hurricane damage, and consider replacing your roof with one of these types.

  1. Move your car away from your driveway.

Protect your car and your home, by preventing your car from potentially becoming a projectile during the strongest hurricanes. If possible, relocate your car into a more secure location, in your garage, a neighbor’s spare garage space, or even in a parking garage or other area away from the vicinity of your home. (This also may help ensure your car is not destroyed by flood water, protecting your means of transportation after the hurricane.)

  1. Protect your valuables.

Place important documents, including deeds, titles, and other proof of ownership documents, passports, birth certificates, medical insurance certificates and policy documents, and all others in a waterproof container. And, move the container to a higher and safer location in your home.

Make digital and paper copies of all documents as part of your advance preparations, and place those in a waterproof transportable covering to keep in your evacuation bag. And, make a list of valuable items such as family heirlooms and electronics that need to be temporarily waterproofed and moved to higher locations in your home during emergency preparations for impending flood.

  1. Promptly undertake capital improvements as well as maintenance basics .

Invest in home improvements such as installing high-wind-resistant windows, doors, and garage doors, with storm-grade shutters over all of these, along with an ideal roof type, if possible, for optimum hurricane preparedness.

And, performing essential maintenance, like using high-grade caulking around all door seals, window frames, vents, and utility cable and pipe entry points into your home, may help protect against water entry during flooding.

Above all, work in advance to protect your entire home from as much damage as possible, in order to ensure that you experience the least property destruction and the least amount of inconvenience from being forced out of your home during lengthy repairs.

  1. Review your homeowner insurance policy.

Review your homeowner policy to understand which items are covered and which are not.

After you are confident that you are clear on which of your belongings that you can and cannot reasonably expect to insure, prepare accordingly. Move these items to higher levels in your house or to a safe temporary storage elsewhere, if necessary, or take other actions in advance to protect uninsured or underinsured valuables.

We are here to help. We want to make sure you understand and know your policy coverage. Please call with questions to 800) 443-7007.

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Why Should Consider Renters Insurance?

What is renters insurance?

A renter’s insurance policy insures your personal property, provides you with liability coverage, and offers you additional living expenses if you need to live in temporary housing if your apartment or home is damaged or destroyed.

Most of the time, your landlord will only cover the apartment itself that you live in, but it won’t help protect you from any damages done to your personal items inside of it. Sometimes your landlord may require you to purchase it. You may think you do not need renters insurance, but let’s take a look at why you should.

Why should you purchase renters insurance?

It won’t break your bank.

Renters insurance happens to be really affordable option to protect your valuables. If you do a bundle with car and renters insurance combined, you may be able to save even more money.

It protects you and your valuables when you need it.

If someone happens to get hurt in your home and you don’t have renters insurance, they could sue you for damages. With renters insurance, this can help you in any sort of situation that could impact you and your things. If the apartment floods, renters insurance lets you know that your belongings are insured, meaning you can get most everything replaced in case of damages.

The coverage goes with you wherever you go.

Let’s say you go on a vacation and your luggage gets lost. Renters insurance can help with that. Renters insurance covers everything you personally own, so if anything happens to your belongings, whether it’s in your home or in a different country, you still get insured for all you own.

When it comes to having renters insurance, you can never be too safe when it comes to personal property. You are protected wherever you and your belongings go and can help you down the line. Check with your landlord to see if you are covered under any renters insurance by them, but if not, consider applying. You never know what life is going to bring your way.

Our team is happy to assist in helping answer your questions and making sure you are fully covered. Call us at (800) 443-7007 or learn more by clicking here

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Safety Tips: Have a Happy and Safe Summer

For many of us, the 4th of July is an opportunity to celebrate our country’s independence in the company of our closest friends and family. And usually, these celebrations are not lackluster affairs!

Still, it only takes one careless move to turn a wild celebration into a dangerous situation. This Independence Day, keep our tips for your safety in mind.

Fireworks

In the state of Massachusetts, please remember that private use of fireworks is illegal, with potential fines ranging from $10 to $1,000. If you’re out of state, know your local laws and regulations, and use them responsibly.

  • Your fireworks should come with instructions for use. Follow them.
  • Don’t endanger yourself or another by misusing or combining different fireworks at the same time.
  • Never light a firework unless it is facing away from you and your crowd.
  • If you’re stuck in inclement weather, save the fireworks for another day.
  • Have a fire extinguisher on standby, and be sure that it is designed to extinguish flames caused by your fireworks’ specific chemicals.
  • Keep items like sparklers away from the skin, clothing, and flammable objects.
  • Contact local authorities if you witness reckless behavior involving fireworks.
  • For fire emergencies, contact your fire department immediately.

Boating

Temperature-wise, one of the coolest ways to spend the Fourth is on the water, but unless you’re careful, it can also be one of the most dangerous.

  • Make sure anyone who is operating a boat or jetski is properly licensed.
  • Wear a lifejacket in the water at all times.
  • If you are operating motorized marine equipment, watch out for other boats and swimmers.
  • Never operate a boat or jetski under the influence of alcohol.
  • Do not enter the water to retrieve a struggling swimmer if you do not have your own life preserver.
  • Have a first aid kit ready for emergencies.
  • Contact local authorities if you witness reckless behavior on the water.

Children

For children, the 4th of July is one of the most exciting times of the year; it’s not hard to blame them for getting a little carried away. That said, it’s in everyone’s best interest to keep them safe.

  • Make sure the kids don’t wander off to unsafe areas alone.
  • If it is established that they may go elsewhere, make sure they let an adult know where they are going, when they will be back, and how they can be reached in an emergency.
  • Be sure the toys they are playing with are age-appropriate.
  • Remind children to keep sparklers away from their faces, clothes, and hair, as well as other flammable objects.

Pets

For obvious reasons, many of our pets are frightened by loud noises and bright lights. Feeling threatened, some may respond to this fear with aggression. Others still might be prone to running away, where the animal could be harmed by someone or something else.

  • Know your animal. Will your pet likely have a severe reaction to fireworks, or will it not mind at all? If you’re unsure, talk to your vet about options.
  • If your dog is okay with being outside, keep your dog tied to a secure post to avoid unexpected mishaps.
  • If your pet is especially frightened, prepare a quiet space indoors where your pet can remain as calm as possible, given the situation.
  • If it can be arranged, consider taking your pet(s) to the quieter home of a friend or relative for the holiday.

Make some memories.

With these tips in mind, have a fun and safe 4th of July! Make sure it’s one you won’t forget.

Northeast Insurance Agency wishes you a safe and happy summer! We would love to hear from you! What favorite summertime activities do you and your family do? Share in the comments below.

8 Tips For Keeping Home Energy Costs Down This Summer

Home Energy CostsIt’s that time of year again. The days are long and the summer weather is beautiful. But with all the bright and shiny fun comes the heat, which in turn, creates higher home energy costs to keep cool. The outdoor temperatures are one thing that we are helpless to reduce in the short-term, but there are some steps that everyone can take to lower the amount of energy being used during the summer. Some of the biggest savings around the house come from doing a number of small things.

Here are 8 ways to save big on home energy costs.

1. Windows

Take advantage of the cool New England air at night. Turn off your air conditioners and open the windows to cool off your home. When you wake up in the morning, close the windows and lock them for a tight seal to trap in the cool air. Close your blinds as well, as this will block unneeded sunlight which can significantly warm up a room.

2. Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans won’t cool your home but they do circulate the air in your home making you feel cooler. This is only useful when you are home, so be sure to turn these fans off when you are not going to an area where they will affect you.

3. Vents & Filters

It is a little-known fact that if you shut your vents you actually are making your AC unit work harder to cool the rest of the house. By leaving your vents open you can save money and stress on your unit. The same goes for your filter, change it often and your system will last longer and not need to use unnecessary energy to keep your home cool.

4. Thermostat

Try to keep your thermostat in the range of 76-78 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a comfortable temperature and if used in conjunction with your ceiling fan will actually feel up to 4 degrees cooler than the set temperature.

5. Appliances

If you need to do a load of laundry, try to hold off until the evening. Also, consider not using hot water when you wash, as it is known that cold water requires less energy. If you have a dishwasher, refrain from using it during the daytime and try to hand-wash dishes when possible. All appliances consume energy when they are plugged in, even if they are not being used. Unplug any and all appliances when they are not in use.

6. Leaks

Take a lap around your home and make sure all of your weatherization is in good order. Much like leaving a window open while your air conditioner is on, cool air will escape from the tiniest leaks in window panes, doorways, etc. There’s no sense in paying more and stressing your AC to cool the outdoors.

7. Dress For the Weather

This tip doesn’t just apply to when you are in the household. Running errands or working in the yard with long sleeved shirts and thick pants will only entice you to go inside and stand in front of your AC until you’re cooled off. Wear short sleeved shirts, shorts and/or skirts whenever possible.

8. Hydrate!

Beat the heat from the inside out. Keeping those ice cube trays filled and consuming 8-10 glasses of cold water will not only keep you cool internally throughout the day but will also help you avoid potential health complications such as heat stroke. Lowering your body temperature this way will minimize the need for air conditioners or excessive fanning.

And don’t forget, staying mindful of your home energy costs isn’t the only way to save from month to month. Another great way to keep more money in your pocket year-round is through a homeowner’s insurance policy perfectly catered to your specific needs, so contact us today to find a plan that works for you!

Get Your FREE Homeowner’s Insurance Quote HERE!

Motorcycle Safety Guide: 7 Tips For First-Time Bikers

Motorcycle SafetyMotorcyclists are ecstatic that springtime weather is finally flourishing throughout New England, and for good reason. Hitting the scenic open roads can be an uplifting experience; which is why this time of year tends to influence those who have been itching to purchase a motorcycle for the first time. While the temptation may be growing, there are many things to consider before investing in that two-wheeler, more specifically, motorcycle safety.

Abide by These 7 Motorcycle Safety Tips to Keep Your Riding Experience a Happy One:

Safety Gear

In Massachusetts, state law requires anyone operating a motorcycle or riding as a passenger to wear a helmet that meets the minimum requirements laid out by the Registrar of Motor Vehicles. This law also applies to sidecar passengers. Although helmet laws vary from state to state, it is an undeniable safety precaution that ALL motorcyclists should abide by to prevent significant injury in the event of an accident. And leather jackets aren’t just a ‘fashion statement’ of the motorcycling community. Many bikers wear these jackets because they are thick and dense, which can provide better bodily protection if a fall takes place. Eye protection and thick gloves are also recommended.

Rider Awareness

Bikers must be even more alert of their surroundings than automobile drivers. They need to be mindful of any roadway hazards that could put them in a dangerous position. Always keep yourself visible to other drivers and keep an appropriate amount of distance from them. Communicate your directional intentions clearly by using proper signals and always keep your headlight on. It’s also recommended that for bikers of every experience level to use the least congested lanes. Noticing upcoming roadway activity, keeping balance and reacting to other drivers and/or animals on the road is crucial in safely operating a motorcycle, so avoid daydreaming and stay vigilant!

Know Your Bike

Before even considering making that first bike investment, familiarize yourself with how a motorcycle operates. Once you’ve learned the basics, research the specific mechanics and features of the bike you are looking into. NEVER buy one that hasn’t passed a thorough inspection or buy from an unknown and potentially unreliable source. After you’ve chosen the perfect ride for yourself, get into the habit of making a mental pre-ride checklist to ensure the bike is in ideal operating condition. Here is a checklist of items to double check before you hop on:

Fluids – Oil and all other fluids should be filled and checked for leaks underneath the bike

Tires – Should have proper air pressure and tread

Lights – Switch on all lights to make sure they are in working order; including turn signals

Throttle and Clutch – The throttle must be able to snap back when released and the throttle should feel smooth and tight.

Horn – Honk to test efficiency so other motorists can hear you

Brakes – Test the front and rear brakes separately to ensure they both hold firmly when applied

Mirrors – Keep them clean and adjusted according to your posture while on the bike

Check the Forecast

Driving in inclement weather can be problematic for any motorist, let alone bikers. The most experienced riders can get caught in a rainstorm, especially with the unpredictable New England Weather. No one wants to be on the first leg of their scenic bike ride only to roll into a wall of rain, so stay tuned to a reliable weather forecast in your area. In addition, roadways are the slickest immediately after rainfall begins because the water actually pulls oils from road surfaces.

Plan a Route

If you are buying a motorcycle with the intent to take in the sites, take the time to strategically plan out your trips. Take in into account road quality, attractions, and accommodations that are available on your preferred route. The Shelburne Falls Loop is a great example of a well-planned Massachusetts route for beginning and experienced riders. A big part of practicing motorcycle safety is knowing the areas in which you visit to avoid getting lost or stranded.

Know Your State’s Laws

Aside from the required licensing that is needed, bikers must familiarize themselves with the laws of any state that they plan on riding in. Simply knowing the laws of your home state could prove risky in the event you get stuck out of town, so research motorcycle laws and restrictions of your surrounding states as well.

Protect Yourself Financially

Last, but certainly not least, choose an adequate motorcycle insurance policy that is catered to your specific needs. Motorcycle safety isn’t only about protecting your physical well-being, but also for protecting your assets in the event of an accident. A quality insurance plan doesn’t have to break the bank either, and we’d like to prove it to you!

If you’re a first-time bike owner and wish to acquire a cost-effective insurance policy, call Northeast Insurance Agency at (800) 443-7007 or email us at info@neinsure.com.

How Filing Tax Returns Last-Minute Can Come Back to Bite You

Filing Tax ReturnsBenjamin Franklin was spot-on with his famous quote, “Nothing in life is so fundamentally certain as the inevitability of death and paying taxes.” This year’s tax deadline is Tuesday, April 18, and if you are one of the beautiful people who double-downed early to file your taxes ahead of time, bravo! But for the rest of you who might have some latent thrill-seeking issues, allow us to offer a bit of advice. Filing your income taxes at the last minute can produce a world of unsavory circumstances now and further down the road. With only a couple weeks remaining to complete your taxes, here are some of the best reasons why filing tax returns at the last minute is not in your best interest.

1. Mistakes are more likely when you rush:

Filing tax returns may not be rocket science, but it does require a certain level of uninterrupted focus and concentration. Add to that the necessary documents to be collected in order to file your taxes, and you realize you must be as thorough as possible. Whether you do your own taxes or enlist the help of an accountant or tax filing service, haste makes waste. Beginning your return at 3 p.m. Tuesday, April 18 is a recipe for disaster. Filing early guarantees you have all the time you need gather the required paperwork together as well as work through your return thoughtfully and carefully. It also gives you a buffer for any human error that could occur.

2. Your tax refund is anxiously waiting for you:

If you expect to receive a tax refund, it seems almost unthinkable that you didn’t find yourself skipping to your home computer or accountant’s office with your W-2 or 1099 form in-hand in late January. The tax refund is a magical moment that only happens once a year. This is where all your hard work for the past 12 months pays off in a big way. The early bird not only gets the worm but also a healthy tax refund direct deposited into a bank account or a lovely paper check in the mail. The money is sitting there waiting for you! The sooner you file your taxes, the sooner Uncle Sam’s money is on its way.

3. Give yourself more time in case you owe money.

In the event that you discover you owe the federal government money this year, filing tax returns early gives you more time to scramble and successfully come up with your payment. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of deep dread in learning that you need to procure a sizable payment out of thin air the night before it’s due. Do yourself a favor and start the process now so that you have plenty time to not only file accurately but also to pay any unexpected tax debt easily.

4. Prevent penalties by filing tax returns early. 

Tax procrastinators sometimes join the dark side of the Force and go on to become tax non-filers. So, you didn’t get your taxes done. Sure, you may feel bad about it, but before you know it, weeks turn into months and months can even turn into years. Then you have both unfiled and unpaid taxes. Soon after,  the penalties follow, and they don’t stop accruing until your taxes are filed and paid. Filing your taxes early ensures that you don’t drift into a vortex of fear and panic over your yet unresolved tax responsibility.

Though it may seem difficult to find the time to file your taxes early, avoiding the sometimes inescapable pitfalls of failing to do so most certainly makes it worth the while. And the relief in knowing it’s over and done may be as rewarding as your tax refund itself!

Northeast Insurance prides itself on not only providing the best insurance products and services possible but also helping folks with useful tips and updates to assist in everyday life. If you haven’t subscribed to our newsletter yet, you’ve been missing out on additional articles like the one above, so sign up today!

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Saving Gas Money with 6 Automobile Tips

Saving Gas MoneyIt’s hard to believe it, but spring is already right around the corner. As winter starts to release its icy grip, it gets easier and more tempting to get in your car and head out on an adventure of some sort. Whether it be across town or across the state, the open road calls to us as the weather begins to warm up. As you know, though, with nicer weather comes higher gas prices as well. If your hopes are on saving gas money at the pump but you’d still like to take that road trip you’ve been looking forward to, don’t get discouraged just yet. We’ve compiled a list of ways you can stretch your gas dollars a bit further this year.

Here are 6 Ways You Can Start Saving Gas Money:

1. Maintain Your Vehicle

A poorly performing vehicle is a recipe for fuel efficiency nightmares. Clogged filters, low fluid levels, and older parts can make your engine work harder, which burns more gas. In addition, these problems can lead to serious engine trouble later on, which definitely doesn’t help the budget. The smaller investments towards repairs today will prevent the much larger expenditures down the road.

2. Inflate Your Tires

Did you know that poorly inflated tires will severely hamper your fuel economy? Lower tire pressure not only wears out your tires quicker but can increase friction with the road, which leads to loss of miles-per-gallon (MPG). One tire underinflated by 10 PSI can cost you as much as 5 MPG — and that only increases if other tires are also low. The transition from winter into spring still includes chilly days. Low temperatures can deflate tires more quickly, so routinely check the PSI of all four tires during colder months.

3. Drive Sensibly

Seriously… take your foot off the pedal once in a while! Most cars have a “sweet spot” where they are most efficient. This spot is usually somewhere between 55 and 66 MPH. Going faster than that can hurt your overall fuel efficiency, as the amount of energy required to maintain a constant speed begins to seriously increase the faster you go. And those of you that like to drive slow aren’t off the hook either, as driving too slow can also cause you to waste gas.

4. Coast More

When you see a red light or stopped vehicle in front of you, be smart. Rather than accelerating as long as you can and then stopping on a dime, just coast. You’ll still make it to the light while using less gas in the process. If traveling on a downhill road, remove your foot from the accelerator and let gravity do the work. Chances are that pressing the gas pedal while traveling downhill will cause you to exceed the posted speed limit anyway, so try to lay off of it.

5. Decrease Drag

Friction and drag are the enemies of efficiency. So, the trick is to make your car as frictionless as possible. Rolling up the windows and taking cargo off the roof is a good way to begin. (Side note: It is true that the A/C also uses gas, which makes it tempting to roll down the windows instead. The general rule is to roll down the windows in town, and use the A/C on the highway). Also, decrease drag by cleaning out your trunk. The heavier the car, the less efficient it is for saving gas money.

6. Avoid Highway Gas Stations:

More often than not, gas stations located on long highway stretches charge significantly more for fuel. Whenever possible, avoid these gas price hikes by topping off your tank prior to any extended trips and/or make plans to pull off the highway into a nearby town en route to your destination.

Bonus Tip!

New England may be approaching warmer conditions, but here is one thing to keep in mind for next year or during the random cold front in March. Obviously, the longer that a car runs, the more gas it uses. It may be tempting to warm up your car for an extended period of time until it’s nice and toasty inside, but limit the amount of time you leave your car running whenever plausible. If your vehicle requires more than five minutes to warm up, there’s a good chance that it needs a maintenance check.

And just like that, you’re on the road towards stretching your dollars and getting the most bang for your traveling buck! Ultimately, the absolute best thing you can do for saving gas money is consistently monitoring and maintaining all facets of your automobile.

Northeast Insurance loves saving folks money on not only insurance products, but also with helpful every day hacks like the list we’ve compiled above. For more insurance related information, up-to-date local and national news and more ways to keep your wallet full, check us out on Facebook!

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Lower Your Home Heating Bill with These 8 Simple Tips

Home Heating BillLiving in New England, we all know winter weather stays cold for pretty much the entire season. Rarely do we get days where going outside doesn’t require a heavy coat. Your house is the same way during the chilliest time of the year, as it needs to keep you warm and safe from the brutal weather conditions. If you’re one of many that dread that pesky home heating bill arriving in the mail, there are a number of things you can personally do to keep the cost of heating down. A few simple house hacks could end up saving you hundreds of dollars every winter. And the best part is that you don’t have to sacrifice comfort to stay warm and cozy.

Here Are 8 Easy Tricks to Shrink Your Home Heating Bill.

1. Look for Leaks:

Check for open drafts throughout your home. Look for culprits along windows, light fixtures, and doors. To do this, light a candle and observe the smoke trail next to these fixtures. If you see the smoke move horizontally, your home leaks warm air to the outside. Fix this problem by caulking or weather stripping these areas.

2. Replace Old Weather Stripping:

Replace old weather stripping along windows and doors. Over time, the elements may break these barriers down. New weather stripping keeps the warm air in and cold air out.

3. Use Natural Heat:

You have several sources of natural heat at your disposal. Open your curtains to let the sun in during the day, but then close them at night to keep in the heat. When taking a hot shower, keep the bathroom door open to allow the steam to exit and warm up surrounding rooms. Your body also generates heat, so bundle up with a cozy pair of sweats and a sweatshirt or sweater. Don’t forget a pair of socks or two, because when your feet feel cold, the rest of your body feels chilly.

4. Lower Your Thermostat at Night:

Pile on the blankets and comforters while you sleep and lower your thermostat at night. Experts suggest lowering your thermostat to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. In the morning, when you wake up, raise the temperature to 70. Your furnace quickly warms your house from your overnight setting.

5. Install a Programmable Thermostat:

A programmable thermostat regulates your home’s temperature with precision, but it also lets you easily maintain certain settings. Program your nighttime and daytime settings automatically so your home stays at a particular temperature depending on when you are home or asleep. This keeps your HVAC system running at optimum levels for energy consumption.

6. Check Your HVAC System:

Check your HVAC system for inefficiencies. Look for possible leaks coming from your air ducts and see if any portions of your ducts lack insulation. Remedy these problems with duct tape and wrap insulation, or hire an expert to examine your HVAC system.

7. Examine the Exterior:

Check the exterior of your home and plug any holes you see. Pay attention to places where your utilities run from the outside, such as pipes and electrical conduits. Seal any gaps between the walls and the pipes with expanding foam.

8. Cover Windows With Film:

Cover your windows and patio doors with clear, plastic film during the winter. Windows cause 25 percent of your home’s heat loss in the winter. Covering them with clear film could save you more than 10 percent on your home heating bill.

Fight back against the chill of New England winters and a discouraging home heating bill with these quick and easy tips. And as always, look into saving even more when insuring your home. Whether you’re a homeowner or a renter, let Northeast Insurance help you get the most bang for your buck!

Receive a quote on homeowner’s or renter’s insurance HERE!

Moving Out? Know What Could Impact Your Home Resale Value

Home Resale ValueThe New Year brings with it a clean slate, a clear calendar page, and 365 days filled with opportunity. While some people are starting a new personal improvement or health regimen, others are excited about the memories they’ll be making in a new home. If you’re one who is looking to sell your home in 2017, here are some important things to know that might decrease the value of your home. Some of these you can’t change, but others are easy fixes that can keep your home resale value – and your hopes – up.

Major Key Points For Your Home Resale Value

Curb Appeal:

The first step you should take when you plan to list is to clean up your yard. Remove any trash, non-operational vehicles, dead plants, and be sure to secure your foundation. Planting a few flowering bushes and a fresh coat of paint on porch rails, shutters, and light fixtures can make a huge difference.

Interior Appeal:

A move-in ready home is one in which the buyer won’t have to make many changes to remove your personal taste. An individual or family is more likely to purchase a home if they can easily visualize themselves living there. Consider updating your kitchen or bath, repairing any holes in the walls, and painting in a neutral color to appeal to masses. And although they can be difficult to remove, work on eliminating any lingering odors caused by pets or years of accumulated indoor smoking. These can be big deterrents for potential buyers.

Type of Neighborhood:

It’s only natural to avoid homes with loud or inconsiderate neighbors. The same goes for dogs that are uncontrolled or bark constantly, as well as disruptive areas located on busy roadways. Families with young children may even note if there are registered sex offenders in the area. There is very little a person can do to change any of these unfortunate living scenarios, but by personally knowing these factors you’ll be less blindsided if they affect your home resale value.

Surrounding Foreclosures:

In areas where the market is overflowing with excess stock and houses in foreclosure or short sale status, property value has a tendency to plummet. The main reason for this is that buyers understandably grow suspicious of neighborhoods with a high number of surrounding foreclosures. The best way to keep interest in your house alive is to point out how many repairs and renovations have been done to make your property move-in ready, saving them time, stress, and extra investments.

Serious Repairs:

Whether your driveway is cracked or your siding is damaged, investing the small bit of time or money now to get it fixed can yield a higher return when selling your home. Plumbing repairs can especially cause conflict, so schedule a thorough inspection to address any problematic piping or leaks. Prospective buyers will shy away from a purchase that requires extra attention.

School District:

A major deal-breaker for parents or parents-to-be before deciding on a home purchase is the nearby school district. Schools with low rankings are detractors, so check out how your district rates on Great Schools before you list. A highly reviewed area can be a huge selling point to those with growing families.

Nearby Needs:

Individual buyers have very specific ideas of where they want to live. Your proximity or distance from shopping, dining, entertainment, and medical care can impact desirability. Some buyers may prefer the peace and quiet that comes with a secluded house, however, the majority of them seek convenience over isolation.

The Season in Which You Sell:

Most people sell and buy homes from late spring to early August, with May through September being the peak. Not only are families typically free from house-hunting during the school year, but they’re able to avoid trudging through inclement weather; as all New Englanders are very familiar with. To get the most, list your home in the spring.

Again, some of these circumstances can’t be completely avoided, but being aware of them will spare you any surprises about your home resale value. If you do decide to list your home in 2017, keep theses fixable instructions in mind for a greater return and better start for the next place you decide to call ‘home’.

Whenever you move to a new location, you want to always secure the homestead with the best possible insurance coverage. Receive your Massachusetts homeowner’s insurance quote from Northeast Insurance!

Spread the Word: December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month

National Impaired Driving Prevention MonthThe holidays are upon us, and Americans are excitedly traveling to family homes, shopping hotspots and friendly parties. It is a wonderful time of the year for celebrating and being with loved ones. That is why it is so important to be aware of the dangers that impaired driving present during the holiday season.

While most Americans have a general awareness of these threats, there are still many who are uneducated about how this easily preventable problem could affect them and their loved ones on a personal level. That is why President Barack Obama designated December as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month.

What is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month?

This special proclamation by the president was enacted to warn and educate all Americans of the dangers that impaired driving can create for drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. Through this effort, Obama and the U.S. government hope to promote responsible choices and prevent this deadly behavior that robs people of beloved family members and friends.

Although impaired driving presents a constant threat all year long, there is a noticeable spike in road traffic during holiday travel. These numbers go up even higher in the month of December as families go on shopping trips and family outings ahead of the big travel days to spend time together. It is also a time when increased celebration also means increased alcohol consumption, and it is the hope that NIDPM can help Americans to realize the importance of not mixing travel and alcohol.

National Impaired Driving Prevention Month was first recognized in 2012 when impaired driving accidents were becoming an epidemic that especially affected young people. In 2013, over 10,000 people were killed in an accident involving a drunk driver; that is one person every 53 minutes. The number had decreased slightly by 2015, but still, 28 people die every day as a result of drunk driving crashes. By far, the highest percentage of these were young people. In 2011, the percentage of impaired driving accidents involved:

  • 32 percent between ages 21 to 24
  • 30 percent between ages 25 to 34
  • 24 percent between ages 35 to 44

Although these numbers do not account for drivers under the legal drinking age, many of them are involved in crashes involving other substances. A survey from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration showed that in 2010, 13.2 percent of drivers over age 16 operated a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. Meanwhile, 4.3 percent of those people ages 16 and older drove under the use of illicit drugs in that same year.

Due to increased traffic and celebration, these numbers significantly increase during the holiday season. It is important for all Americans to be aware of the dangers of impaired driving and educate family members, especially the youth of America. Through education and prevention efforts like NIDPM, we hope that everyone will have a happy and safe holiday season in 2016 and bring in a safer year in 2017!

One major task that is a must for your 2017 to-do list should be making sure that all of your insurance policies are updated. If you wish to review your current policy or want to inquire about purchasing new coverage, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at (800) 443-7007 or receive an online auto insurance estimate by clicking here.