A beginner’s guide to driver-friendly apps

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With so many mobile apps at our fingertips and only so much memory on our smartphones, choosing which ones are worth downloading can be challenging. So, in the hopes of making your life a little bit easier, we did some research and found a few apps designed to help you get the most out of traveling in your car – after all, we are an auto insurance company and are always looking for ways to keep our drivers happy! But, please remember to never use your smartphone will driving – only do so when you’re safely pulled over or parked.Smartphone with cloud of application icons

While smartphones might come pre-programmed with their operating system’s own navigation software, there are some third-party navigation apps to consider, too.

As a community-based traffic and navigation app, Waze is all about people helping people. Waze works to give drivers a fast and convenient route from point A to B using real-time updates on traffic, accidents and other road hazards. As drivers are out on the road, they passively contribute to traffic data in the app and help fellow drivers avoid accidents and other holdups.

For another useful navigation app, try Citymapper. With a goal of simplifying city mobility, Citymapper offers a host of features. For example, its “Meet me Somewhere” feature acts as an event invitation. With this service, Citymapper will generate a link that you can send to each guest, giving him or her instant navigation to your “event” – whether it be a dinner, party, or just a meet up.

Similar to Waze’s crowdsourced data approach, GasBuddy will help you find low gas prices in your area. When users find cheap gas, GasBuddy encourages them to report it so that other drivers can find low prices as well. For each gas price a user reports, he or she can earn points towards GasBuddy’s prize giveaways.

And for those times when you’re stranded, HONK may be a helpful resource. Honk specializes in roadside assistance: towing, tire change, jumpstarts, lockouts or gas refills. With a nationwide network of over 20,000 tow trucks and 24/7 service, HONK is an alternative to drivers who aren’t enrolled in formal roadside assistance programs.

Speaking of being stranded, have you ever lost your car because you forgot where you parked? The Find My Car app is designed  to help you remember where your car is parked when you go to sporting events,  concerts or other places where the lots and garages can be huge – also for those Christmas shopping trips when the only open spots seem to be on the outskirts of civilization.

Whether you’re looking for the quickest route or find yourself broken down on the side of the road, there’s probably an app to help you. We’ve only touched on a few, so check out the on-line app stores for even more apps that are designed to help you get the most out of traveling.

We have provided this list of products and services for informational purposes only, to give you some ideas and get you started on your own research. Plymouth Rock does not endorse or sponsor any of these products, Plymouth Rock is not sponsored, endorsed by, or associated with any of these products and any such inferences are hereby expressly disclaimed.  Registration and use of any products or services are subject to the individual terms and conditions of those products or services.

Headquartered in Boston, Plymouth Rock Assurance Corporation provides auto insurance to personal and commercial auto insurance customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Plymouth Rock is a member of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in auto and homeowners insurance

Keep calm and drive on

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Let’s face it; we’ve all encountered aggressive drivers on the road. Whether it’s speeding, tailgating, switching lanes abruptly, omitting the blinker (I could go on and on), reckless driving is dangerous and can lead to road rage in other drivers. For those of us in Massachusetts, we are no strangers to hazardous driving; and after this long winter, our patience is sure to be at an all-time low. So, before you find yourself in a situation that might lead to aggressive behavior, here are some tips on how to keep your cool while on the road:road rage

  • Listen to traffic updates and plan ahead – if you know to expect delays, you’ll hopefully be less aggravated when sitting in traffic. If there are delays, give yourself enough time so that you aren’t rushing and “cutting it too close”
  • Keep a good distance between you and the next car – don’t tailgate the car in front of you. Conversely, if someone is tailgating you, rather than trying to ward them off by slowing down, safely move over or pullover and let the person pass you
  • Be courteous – it’s a good habit to say “thank you” after someone does something kind. So if someone accommodates you on the road by letting you into a lane or stopping to let you turn, give the driver a friendly wave. A simple gesture of gratitude will go a long way
  • Listen to music that makes you happy. But, be aware that your music could distract you or bother drivers around you, so keep it at a reasonable level
  • Don’t use your cell phone while driving. Speaking from experience, I get frustrated when I see a driver on his or her phone, even when stopped at a red light or stop sign. Do everyone a favor and wait until you are safely parked to use your phone

Avoiding road rage requires self-awareness, patience, and respect for other drivers. Keep calm and practice good road etiquette to keep yourself and others safe on the roads.

Headquartered in Boston, Plymouth Rock Assurance Corporation provides auto insurance to personal and commercial auto insurance customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Plymouth Rock is a member of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in auto and homeowners insurance.

 

 

As we welcome spring, flooding becomes more likely

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Flooded interiorNow that we’ve officially lived through the snowiest season in Boston, it’s time to “think spring.” And while spring brings the promise of warm weather and longer days, the melting snow and rain means possible flooding in some areas. So while you’re welcoming the new season with open arms, remember that it’s important to be prepared and understand flood risks.

Pro tip: Check out FEMA’s flood hazard maps to find out exactly how risky your community is

Spring into action: Take steps before a flood

  1. If you live in a high-risk area, prepare an emergency kit so you’re ready to go in the event of a flood. Items should at least include:
  • Bottled water
  • Non-perishable food
  • First Aid kit
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Essential medicines
  • Extra cash
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Extra change of clothes
  • Important insurance and financial documents

For a full list of recommended items, visit The American Red Cross

  1. If you live in a high flood-risk area, also consider having a professional evaluate your home’s furnace, water heater and electrical panel and determine if any modifications need to be made to decrease the chances of water damage
  2. Secure your basement as it’s the most vulnerable space when it comes to floods. Begin with checking and sealing any cracks in the foundation to prevent leaks. Check out these comprehensive instructions on readying your basement from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety

Stay alert: What to do during a flood

Stay tuned to local broadcast stations (tv and/or radio) for updates on flooding in your area. If you need to evacuate, remember:

  • Shut off all utilities including gas, water and electricity, remember to unplug appliances
  • Do not walk through moving water. Water 6 inches deep is enough to knock you over
  • Do not drive in flooded areas. If you need to, abandon your car and seek higher ground immediately
  • Be aware of evacuation shelters in your area

Remain vigilant: What to do after a flood

  • Only return home when authorities have deemed it safe to do so
  • Before entering, check for downed power lines, damaged gas lines, foundation cracks or other damage
  • If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve, open all windows and leave the house immediately. Call the fire department
  • Turn off the electricity at the main breaker or fuse box and avoid downed wiring. The smallest electrical spark could be dangerous
  • Throw away any food and properly dispose of cleaning products, batteries, paint and other chemical-based products that could’ve been damaged by the flood waters. Make sure to wear protective gear (gloves, mask, rubber boots, etc.) when cleaning up
  • Contact your insurance carrier right away if you need to file a claim
  • Download this free e-book from the American Red Cross that covers everything from:
  • Returning to your home safely
  • Protecting your belongings from further damage
  • How to properly file insurance claims
  • How to check for gas/water leaks

Even if floods are few and far between in your area, it never hurts to be prepared. And now that this winter’s snow is beginning to melt, it’s even more important to be aware of the potential dangers of flooding.

Headquartered in Boston, Plymouth Rock Assurance Corporation provides auto insurance to personal and commercial auto insurance customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Plymouth Rock is a member of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in auto and homeowners insurance

Good news for Mass drivers

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There’s no doubt February was a very difficult time for drivers in the Bay State. And although we’re officially into March, *cue sigh of relief* it’s likely the the wintry weather will stick with us for at least a few more weeks. We’re looking at you, Lion.

But while road and weather conditions remain unfavorable, Mass drivers can relish in one silver lining: according to a recent survey, the Bay State is actually one of the best states (for your wallet, anyway) in terms of financial security following an accident.

zakim-bridge

WalletHub, an online financial resource, has Massachusetts tied for seventh overall on a scale of the riskiest to safest states in the country for car insurance. The rankings were determined by examining several factors:

  • Minimum liability requirements – In Massachusetts, drivers are required to have a minimum of a 20/40/5 policy. This means that every driver’s insurance policy must cover at least $20,000 in bodily injury liability costs per person, $40,000 in bodily injury liability costs per accident and $5,000 in property damage liability. Though the minimums aren’t as high as in some states (Maine’s are 50/100/25), Massachusetts drivers are in better shape than some – Florida drivers are only required to have 10/20/10 and New Hampshire does not require drivers to have insurance.
  • Additional required insurance – While some states only require minimum liability coverage, other states require additional types of insurance, like Medical Payments Coverage or Personal Injury Protection. In Massachusetts, drivers must have Personal Injury Protection (PIP). PIP covers medical expenses, funeral expenses and lost wages resulting from injuries sustained in an accident. Unlike liability coverage, PIP covers the policyholder, their household members, and anyone else occupying their vehicle at the time of the accident, regardless of whose fault the accident was. While PIP coverage requires additional premium, MA drivers have more required protections than drivers in states like Rhode Island, California and New Mexico.
  • Number of uninsured drivers – Massachusetts has the lowest percentage of uninsured drivers at 3.9%. Compared to a state like Oklahoma where one in four drivers is uninsured, if you get into an accident as a Massachusetts driver, the other party will likely have adequate insurance.

It’s important to remember that although some states have more lenient car insurance requirements than others, it doesn’t mean that minimum coverage is enough for everyone. So when you’re selecting your next insurance policy, it’s worth educating yourself on additional coverage options that your state might not require. The last thing you want is to find yourself in a situation where you’re underinsured. Plymouth Rock’s coverage options could be a good place to start if you’re in the market for a new Massachusetts auto insurance policy.

Headquartered in Boston, Plymouth Rock Assurance Corporation provides auto insurance to personal and commercial auto insurance customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Plymouth Rock is a member of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in auto and homeowners insurance

As residents race to clear roofs, it’s the perfect storm for schemes

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“Keep snow off your roof” is a mantra that’s reverberated throughout the region since we started getting pounded by snowstorms. But while people scramble to have their roofs cleared to avoid collapses and ice dams, they’ve unknowingly also become targets for scammers.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), there’s an increased risk of scammers going door to door in affected areas offering snow removal and other repair services to vulnerable residents, especially elderly people. Shady contractors are capitalizing on peoples’ desperation by posing as legitimate businesses and promising quality work for a certain price.snow on roof

However, these scammers will often pocket a payment and never show up for the job, quote at one price and then charge a higher fee, never complete a job that was started or perform a mediocre job using inferior materials. Residents in Wayland and Bedford, Mass. have already been cheated out of thousands of dollars from such schemes, as reported by CBS Boston and NECN, respectively.

So, while it’s a race to clear snow from your roof to prevent collapses or ice dams, it’s important to be critical and cautious if you’re considering hiring outside help. Individuals offering snow, ice and tree removal services do not need to be licensed as a home improvement contractor, according to the state Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulations. With that in mind, before you hire a company or an individual, ask if they are licensed and make sure they’re at least properly insured.

In addition to researching a contractor’s insurance, consider these tips from the NICB before hiring a contractor:

  • Take pictures of your property before, during and after the repairs
  • Get quotes from multiple contractors
  • Create a paper trail: get the cost proposal, work to be performed, work and payment schedules, guarantees and other expectations in writing
  • Request references
  • Never sign a contract with blank spaces
  • Don’t let a contractor pressure you into hiring him or her
  • Contact your insurance carrier if you have any questions or doubts

And remember, most of these scams are unsolicited – the contractor will approach you. So, as the NICB puts it, “if you didn’t request it, reject it.”

Headquartered in Boston, Plymouth Rock Assurance Corporation provides auto insurance to personal and commercial auto insurance customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Plymouth Rock is a member of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in auto and homeowners insurance throughout the northeast.

Be wary of ice dams this winter

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Though we are an auto insurance provider, we think it’s worthwhile to discuss a home-related topic currently affecting many people in New England. It’s no secret Mother Nature’s been relentless this winter – testing both our will and patience. The almost seven feet of snow we already have in the Boston area has caused widespread roofing woes for many New England residents. Therefore, while we remain vigilant in keeping our streets, driveways and sidewalks clear of snow, it’s important to remember the snow sitting on our roofs.House In Snow

Large amounts of stagnant snow on your roof can cause an ice dam. Ice dams occur when that snow melts and then refreezes in the roof overhang, creating a blockage in the gutter and preventing proper drainage. If you notice icicles hanging from your roof, water dripping from the roof overhang, or interior leaks or new stains on your ceilings, it’s likely an ice dam has formed. Ice dams’ damage can be costly, so if you suspect one on your roof, it’s important to address it right away.

Of course, the best way to treat ice dams is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. However, prevention methods are more long term solutions and should be completed before winter’s onset to be most effective. Check out this blog post from our affiliate, Bunker Hill, to learn more about ice dam prevention techniques.

However, there are some steps you can take during winter to deal with ice dams:

  • Ice dams can only form when there’s snow on your roof. So, after a snowstorm, consider hiring a professional to remove the snow. This is the safest way to remove snow because professionals will have ample experience and proper equipment
  • However, if you wish to remove the snow yourself, remember to:
    • Use a roof rake safely – other tools could damage your shingles
    • Avoid standing underneath icicles or roofs with large amounts of snow
    • Be very careful when climbing ladders because rungs can be slippery with snow and ice on them
    • Don’t use a roof rake near electrical wires
    • Have someone nearby to check on you in case you need help or are injured
  • Create a channel in the ice dam by filling a large sock with calcium chloride and laying it across the dam, perpendicular to the gutter. The sock will gradually release the calcium chloride – a melting agent – and create a channel in the ice for water to flow through. You might need several socks for an ice dam that runs the length of your roof

If it reaches the point that an ice dam has formed and water begins leaking inside your home, collect the dripping water in buckets and pans. Mop up any standing water and remember to move any furniture, clothes and other valuables out of harm’s way. It’s also imperative that you promptly call a professional who can properly remove the ice dam and treat the damage.

With February only half over, we still have quite a bit of winter left. So, if and when the next snowstorm hits, consider the snow sitting on your roof just as seriously as what’s piled up in your driveway.

Headquartered in Boston, Plymouth Rock Assurance Corporation provides auto insurance to personal and commercial auto insurance customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Plymouth Rock is a member of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in auto and homeowners insurance throughout the northeast.

Employees reflect on working at Plymouth Rock: Part 5

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At the end of last year, Plymouth Rock was named a Top Places to Work 2014 by the Boston Globe. To be regarded by the Globe as one of the best places to work in Massachusetts is both an honor and testament to our hardworking and talented employees.

To accompany our announcement, we asked several employees to blog about why they like working at Plymouth Rock. Our employee blog series closes with Jeff Andrada, a Claims Supervisor:

Plymouth Rock is a great place to work because of the friendly and family-like atmosphere.  I want to come to work every day where I’m treated with dignity and respect, which Plymouth Rock provides.  My ideas and feedback are well received and respected.Jeffrey Andrada

Plymouth Rock allows me the flexibility and independence to make decisions as well as collaborate with my peers and management to make a decision that benefits our customers and Plymouth Rock.

Overall, I enjoy coming to work as my job presents challenges and issues every day.  Together with the claims staff, my peers, and management, we have the opportunity to work together to solve the issues and at the same time provide quality service to our customers.

-Jeff Andrada, Claims Supervisor, Plymouth Rock Assurance

Headquartered in Boston, Plymouth Rock Assurance Corporation provides auto insurance to personal and commercial auto insurance customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Plymouth Rock is a member of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in auto and homeowners insurance throughout the northeast.

Smart spending means more savings

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It’s never too late to set new goals for yourself, even when the “new year, new me” hype is over. But instead of establishing some grandiose goal like “I am going to make $1 million this year” (by all means, do it if you can), why not set a more realistic goal that you can contribute to little by little?

Like life in general, it’s the small things that count.

So, rather than pledging to earn a lump sum, why not pledge to save a lump sum? Living is expensive and it’s easy to spend money without even realizing it. Here are some everyday habits to adopt this year to keep money in your pocket. You’ll be surprised by how much you’ll save – no dramatic lifestyle change necessary:saving money

  • Be your own barista. Although a $2 cup of coffee doesn’t sound like a lot, think about how quickly that adds up if you buy one every single day. Instead of splurging at the local coffee shop, consider brewing your own coffee at home and carrying it in a travel mug. It might not be the barista’s craftsmanship you’re used to, but that could easily save you $40-60 a month.
  • Frequent the grocery store. It’s easy to fall into the habit of grabbing a sandwich on your lunch break or meeting friends for dinner. However, constantly eating out is a surefire way to hemorrhage money. Instead, plan out your meals in advance and buy the ingredients at the grocery store. When meal planning, prepare large dishes that you can freeze and eat little by little. That way you’re not pressured to cook a new recipe every day. Remember to never grocery shop while hungry – you’ll end up buying stuff you don’t really need.
    • Pro tip(s): Opting for the grocery store’s generic brand oftentimes will save you money. Also, consider a membership at a grocery store that sells items in bulk.
  • Be cognizant of your electrical footprint. A simple way to cut down your electricity bill is to use your lights sparingly. If you aren’t using a particular room, turn off the lights. It’s easy to go from room to room and leave the lights on without realizing the energy you’re wasting. Also, remember to use energy efficient lightbulbs.
    • Pro tip: Unplug appliances you aren’t using. Even when appliances are off, they’re still eating electricity if plugged in.
  • Keep an eye out for great deals. There are plenty of online aggregators that collect and disseminate deals for everything from discounted flights to massages. Peruse some of these sites to find coupons relevant to your spending habits.
  • Public transit. It might not be as comfortable as driving your own car, but taking the subway or bus not only cuts down on fuel costs, but reduces your pollution contribution, too. For those dependent on cars, especially for the everyday commute, consider participating in a carpool.
  • Travel on a budget. For those who suffer from wanderlust but are restricted by limited bank accounts, consider the following:
    • Book your flight for a Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday. According to U.S. News, these are the cheapest days to fly.
    • Accept the layover. Although direct flights are preferred for obvious reasons, oftentimes opting for the route with a layover is cheaper.
    • If your spending habits suggest you’re racking up a pretty bill on airfare, sign up for a credit card that rewards you with miles instead of points or cashback.
  • Entertainment doesn’t have to cost much. Fancy a trip to that new art exhibit? Sometimes museums will offer discounted or free admission on specific days. So, it’s worth checking if nearby museums have designated times when tickets are either free or marked down. And for the moviegoers, even a blockbuster will be cheaper if you opt for the matinee viewing.
  • Repair instead of replace. Before you determine something’s broken and set out to purchase a replacement, evaluate the former’s state. Button on a shirt missing? Even if it doesn’t match, sewing on a new button is a lot cheaper than buying a whole new shirt. Shoe sole is falling off? Sometimes taking worn shoes to a cobbler to repair is more sensible than buying a new pair.
    • Pro tip: If your item is unsalvageable, thrift stores and second-hand shops are great places to get clothes at discounted prices

You don’t need to change your life completely to save money. With a few adjustments in your everyday spending habits, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much money will stay in your bank account.

Headquartered in Boston, Plymouth Rock Assurance Corporation provides auto insurance to personal and commercial auto insurance customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Plymouth Rock is a member of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in auto and homeowners insurance throughout the northeast.

Plymouth Rock Gives Back: Fisher House Boston

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At Plymouth Rock, we’re very proud to be able to support a number of excellent non-profit organizations throughout Massachusetts. One of those is Fisher House Boston. Fisher House 2013 097

Located in West Roxbury, Fisher House Boston provides a safe and comfortable temporary home for military families whose loved ones are being cared for at the VA Boston Healthcare Medical facility. The Boston house is one of 64 Fisher House locations nationwide that act as a “home away from home” for military families.

This year marks Fisher House Foundation’s 25th year of service dedicated to meeting the needs of our Nation’s wounded, injured, and ill service members, veterans and their families.
Fisher House 2013 063Last year, a group of Plymouth Rock employees made the short drive to West Roxbury to spend the morning helping the Fisher House staff prepare lunch for its guests and do some landscaping on the grounds. We’re very happy to support Fisher House again this year through our relationship with EcoMedia. Our support will help them continue to provide exceptional care to all of their guests.

If you’re interested in learning more about the great work Fisher House does for our servicemen and women and their families, check out fisherhouseboston.org. Or, to lend a hand yourself and find local volunteer opportunities, visit their contact page to find out more.

Headquartered in Boston, Plymouth Rock Assurance Corporation provides auto insurance to personal and commercial auto insurance customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Plymouth Rock is a member of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in auto and homeowners insurance throughout the northeast.

Roads are still dangerous after a snowstorm

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snow covered carsThough the first blizzard of 2015 is behind us, road conditions are still unfavorable for drivers. Claims data shows that accidents are much more likely to occur after a big snowstorm than during it. One of the challenges drivers face after a large snowstorm is the excessive height of snowbanks lining the roads. Although piles of snow typically indicate that roads have been plowed, their size poses a threat to drivers due to decreased visibility. Therefore, while the snowbanks remain high, it’s important to drive with heightened caution and care.

  • Remember to drive more cautiously and leave ample space between you and the car in front of you. Since the snowbanks cover the shoulders of roads, there is little or no room for quick, evasive maneuvers. So, you’ll need more time to react in the event you have to swerve or pull over.
  • When merging onto the highway (or any road, for that matter) it’s important to do so slowly and cautiously since snowbanks can block your ability to see traffic – and for traffic to see you.
  • When making a turn at a stop sign, be sure to come to a complete stop and look both ways twice. Be sure you can see beyond the snowbank to make sure there are no oncoming cars or pedestrians.
    • Side note: if you’re a pedestrian, take extra care and try to stay on the sidewalk. Don’t walk with headphones on as they can distract you.

Other general winter driving tips include:

  • Before you get in the car, check the forecast to determine if it’s safe to drive. If conditions seem questionable, it might be best to avoid driving all together… better safe than sorry.
  • Plan your trip accordingly by considering that you’ll be driving at reduced speeds.
  • Since cars can take a beating in wintry weather, remember to regularly inspect your car’s tires, brakes, fluids, wiper blades, lights and battery.
  • Always wear your seatbelt.

Whether you’re a driver or a pedestrian, remember to remain alert at all times while out on the roads this winter!

Headquartered in Boston, Plymouth Rock Assurance Corporation provides auto insurance to personal and commercial auto insurance customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Plymouth Rock is a member of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in auto and homeowners insurance throughout the northeast.