Driving in the snow? Read this

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Snow makes any commute harder, but the best way to stay safe on the road while it’s snowing is to avoid driving altogether. However, if you can’t stay home until the plows have cleared the roads, we urge you to take a minute and refresh your memory with these following safety tips:driving in winter snow

  • Clear snow and ice from all windows and lights
  • Know the current road conditions– tune-in to current local traffic reports before leaving home
  • Pay attention– remember that the posted speed limits are for dry pavement
  • Leave plenty of room for stopping
  • Use brakes carefully– break early, brake correctly. It takes more time and distance to stop in adverse conditions.
  • Watch for slippery bridge decks– even when the rest of the pavement is in good condition. Bridge decks will ice up sooner
  • Don’t use your cruise control in wintry conditions
  • Don’t get overconfident in your 4×4 vehicle– remember that your four-wheel drive vehicle may help you get going quicker than other vehicles but it won’t help you stop any faster!
  • Do not pump anti-lock brakes– if your car is equipped with anti-lock brakes, do not pump brakes in attempting to stop. The right way is to “stomp and steer!”
  • Remember that trucks are heavier than cars– trucks take longer to safely respond and come to a complete stop, so avoid cutting quickly in front of them
  • Go slow!

Headquartered in Boston, Plymouth Rock Assurance is a leading auto insurance carrier in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire. Personal auto and commercial auto policies in Massachusetts and Connecticut are underwritten by Plymouth Rock Assurance Corporation. New Hampshire auto and home policies are underwritten by Mt. Washington Assurance Corporation. Each is a member of the Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in auto and homeowners insurance.

Last minute snow reminders

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It looks like our neighbors in the mid-Atlantic will bear the brunt of Jonas while here in New England we’re only expected to get a few inches of snow. Though it’s important to be prepared for any amount of snowfall, there’s no need to clear out the milk and bread aisles in a pre-apocalyptic frenzy.snowy city illustration

Just in case, check out these last-minute tidbits on getting ready for snowfall. Once you’re prepared, then you can spend your weekend drowning out the weather hype by cheering on New England’s favorite football team.

Have the right supplies

Make sure you have the essentials for dealing with snow. A roof rake, a shovel, and some rock salt or another deicing agent should be sufficient for this weekend’s storm.

While you’re gathering materials, consider assembling an emergency supply kit. This’ll be helpful in the event you lose power. Your kit should include survival basics, like water, nonperishable food, flashlights, a battery-powered radio, a cell phone charger, and a first aid kit. For more ideas on what to pack in your emergency kit, check out the American Red Cross.

Stay connected

Oftentimes, it’s hard to know exactly what to expect when it comes to snowstorms. In the days leading up to Jonas, for example, forecasts have called for anywhere between 2” and 12” of snowfall in our area. These ever-changing forecasts lend themselves to the simple fact that weather patterns are unpredictable and can change at a moment’s notice.

Therefore, watch for alerts from organizations like the National Weather Service or tune into local news broadcasts to stay up to date on the latest weather conditions in your area.

Communicate

Apocalyptic snowstorm or not, it’s always good to have a communication plan set in place so you know what to do and who to contact in the event of an emergency.

We’re here for you

Even though we’re not projected to get a crippling blizzard this weekend, there’s always the possibility that things can get damaged when it snows. If something happens and you need to report a claim, please contact us immediately so that we can help.

You can either report a claim online or by calling Plymouth Rock at 888-324-1620.

Since it’s only the third week of January, we’re not out of the woods just yet – there’s still plenty of time for some blizzards reminiscent of Nemo in 2013 and last year’s Juno. But for now, let’s enjoy this weekend’s “mild” snowfall.

Headquartered in Boston, Plymouth Rock Assurance is a leading auto insurance carrier in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire. Personal auto and commercial auto policies in Massachusetts and Connecticut are underwritten by Plymouth Rock Assurance Corporation. New Hampshire auto and home policies are underwritten by Mt. Washington Assurance Corporation. Each is a member of the Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in auto and homeowners insurance.

Is your bicycle ready for winter?

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Planes, trains and automobiles… no matter how you get to work in the morning, winter always complicates the commute. And if you’re among the growing population of commuters who are strapping on a helmet and hopping on a bike, winter can be a particularly challenging time.winter bike riding

Here’s how to make sure your two-wheeled steed is ready to face Old Man Winter.

Routinely maintain your bike

The ice, slush, salt and dirt your bike is exposed to throughout the winter can be damaging, so you’ll want to clean it more regularly than you normally would. A simple mixture of soap and water should do the trick most of the time, but more hard-to-tackle grime might require rubbing alcohol. Pay special attention to your wheels and chain since mud can get caked inside spokes and links.

Chains and brake and transmission cables should be lubricated to prevent them from sticking.

Consider your tires, pedals and fenders

Riding on slippery, snow and ice-covered roads can be tough without the right wheels. To keep you upright, you’ll want your tires to have a better tread pattern to help with gripping than a standard smooth-tread wheel. And if you’re really going off the beaten path, you may want to consider studded tires to help with traction.

  • Tip: For an inexpensive winter hack, try to zip tie method to improve grip

Everything is slippery in the winter. When it comes to pedals, you’ll want to make sure they have good gripping so that your feet don’t slide around when pedaling. Plus, consider the fact that you’ll probably be wearing big winter boots, so you’ll want to make sure the pedals are large enough for your feet to fit comfortably.

While cruising down wet roads, your wheels are kicking up dirt, grime and other elements. To protect yourself from wheel spray, strap on some temporary fenders so that your wheels are covered.

Dress for the weather

You may see them, but drivers don’t necessarily always see you. That’s why while on a bike, it’s important to be as conspicuous as possible by wearing bright colors and reflective gear.

You should also consider mounting a light on both the front and back of your bike for added assurance that you’ll be seen when the snow starts to fall or when it gets dark.

Whether your commute is 10 minutes or an hour, you’ll want to make yourself as comfortable as possible while riding. Wear thick socks, comfortable riding shoes, and above all, always wear a helmet.

The lesson?

When you’re properly prepared, commuting on a bike is great.  While others are crammed into subway cars and buses or stuck in traffic on the highway, you are in complete control of your travel situation. Talk about freeing, huh?

Not to mention, you’ll save money you otherwise would’ve spent on fares or gas.

For more information and tips about winterizing your bike, check out these articles from Gizmodo and PhillyVoice.

Headquartered in Boston, Plymouth Rock Assurance is a leading auto insurance carrier in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire. Personal auto and commercial auto policies in Massachusetts and Connecticut are underwritten by Plymouth Rock Assurance Corporation. New Hampshire auto and home policies are underwritten by Mt. Washington Assurance Corporation. Each is a member of the Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in auto and homeowners insurance.

Car buying in 2016

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If you’re thinking of buying a car this year, it’s important to do your research before taking that financial plunge. There are many questions to ask yourself – what make or model is most sensible for your lifestyle? Are you a family of five that requires a large SUV? Can you feasibly afford that two-door roadster? Does it make more sense to buy new or used? What about financing?

When researching your new ride, here are a few things to consider:

  • Know your budget. Be smart about what you can afford. Financial experts from Consumer Reports offer their suggestions on how to determine what you can feasibly spend on monthly car payments. Remember also to consider other car-related expenses, like insurance and gas. Bankrate also offers an online household budget calculator.
  • Narrow and asses. There’s an overwhelming amount of cars to choose from. Narrow your search by perusing the manufacturer’s websites and independent review sites to determine the ones that fit your lifestyle and budget. Sites like Edmunds.com and Kelley Blue Book might be a good place to start.
  • New? Used? Certified preowned? Lease? Is your head spinning yet? With whichever model and make you decide on, there are many ways to approach the purchase – from brand new model to a lease. Each option comes with its own pros and cons. For example, if you opt for a high-end lease, you won’t actually own it and you’ll need to stay within the lease’s terms and conditions in order to avoid incurring additional costs (like staying below the allowed mileage.) If you choose to buy a used car, you won’t necessarily know its full history, but it’ll be less expensive than buying a new model.
  • Get interested in interest rates. Before heading to the dealership, consider consulting a bank or a credit union to see what financing they could offer you. Compare that rate to what the dealership is offering and determine which one is the better deal for you. After all, only about 10% of buyers actually qualify for those 0% interest rates offered by some dealers.
  • Take note of discounts and incentives. Are you a recent-grad? Perhaps a member of the military? Sometimes dealerships will offer incentives and discounts to particular groups, though these deals might not be widely publicized. Check to see if there are any incentives being offered by dealerships beyond just the “cash back” rewards you’ll often find.
  • Patience is a virtue. Armed with your research, get out there and take some cars for a test drive. Don’t feel bad about asking to test it more than once – at the very least this’ll be your car for a few years, so it should be exactly what you want. How comfortable are the seats? Is there enough trunk space? While these factors might not be top of mind during your initial research, they are worth considering based on how much time and money you’ll be spending on this car.

Remember, a smart and educated consumer is a happy consumer. Happy shopping!

Headquartered in Boston, Plymouth Rock Assurance is a leading auto insurance carrier in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire. Personal auto and commercial auto policies in Massachusetts and Connecticut are underwritten by Plymouth Rock Assurance Corporation. New Hampshire auto and home policies are underwritten by Mt. Washington Assurance Corporation. Each is a member of the Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in auto and homeowners insurance.

Ways to fight the cold and flu

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Being mid-January, we’re well into cold and flu season. If you’ve managed to make it this far without getting sick, our hat’s off to you.Cold and flu season

But we’re not out of the woods yet. There’s still a long stretch of winter ahead, so if you find yourself surrounded by a chorus of coughs in your office, during your commute or at home, consider the following tips to keep the cold and flu viruses at bay:

  • Wash your hands. Washing your hands is one of best, and easiest, ways to stop the spread of germs. Thoroughly wash your hands by scrubbing both sides with antibacterial soap under warm water for at least one minute. Remember to wash your hands after using the restroom, before you eat, and after sneezing or coughing.
  • Respect personal space. Avoid close contact with others to protect them from getting sick, too. And vice versa – if you’re around someone who’s sick, tell them not to take it personally and keep your distance.
  • Don’t be that guy. When you sneeze or cough, consider your surroundings and do so into a tissue. If you don’t have one on hand, do the next best thing and sneeze into your arm. You don’t want to be that guy or girl who sneezes into open air, exposing everyone around them to germs.
  • Maintain a healthy diet. It’s tempting to indulge in comfort food during the winter months, but remember you’re only as healthy as the food you eat. Make sure you’re getting the right nutrients to keep your body in tip top shape.
  • Exercise regularly. Staying active helps boost your immune system. You don’t need to commit to marathon training, but even if it’s just a 30 minute walk on your lunch break, your immune system will thank you.
  • Get some sleep. Catch some Z’s instead of germs. Eight hours is the recommended night’s sleep, so if you can manage that, great. If not, sleep as much as you can and don’t underestimate its importance.
  • You could get vaccinated. Though it’s certainly not mandatory, health authorities like Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend a yearly flu vaccination. Whether it’s from your doctor, an employer, a school-sponsored clinic, or a pharmacy, there are many places that offer flu shots.

Ultimately, avoiding the cold and flu comes down to taking care of your body and being mindful of others. If you don’t feel well, stay home. Don’t overextend yourself if you’re feeling rundown. Plus, the risk of getting others sick isn’t worth it.

To learn more about cold and flu prevention, visit Flu.gov and WebMD. Both resources provide information on how to stay healthy this season.

Headquartered in Boston, Plymouth Rock Assurance is a leading auto insurance carrier in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire. Personal auto and commercial auto policies in Massachusetts and Connecticut are underwritten by Plymouth Rock Assurance Corporation. New Hampshire auto and home policies are underwritten by Mt. Washington Assurance Corporation. Each is a member of the Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in auto and homeowners insurance.

Tips to avoid a frozen windshield

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We’re all familiar with the painstaking and time-consuming process of removing ice from your windshield on those cold winter mornings. And while you’re standing out in the cold, chipping away at ice from your windshield, you might be contemplating your decision to live inice scraper a wintry region.

While we can’t get rid of winter altogether, we can share a few simple tricks to avoid a frozen windshield, making ice removal a bit easier.

There are several ice/frost prevention sprays on the market designed to help make ice or frost removal easily. Simply apply the spray to your windshield the night before and the stubborn freeze should slide off easily with your scraper. For you DIY-ers, using water mixed with vinegar should do the trick.

If you want to go a step further, consider guarding your windshield with a temporary cover at nighttime. You could lay your floor mats (soft side down) or a piece of carpet across the windshield so that it’s frost-free in the morning.

To prevent your wipers from freezing, you could stick an old sock over each blade to protect them from ice and snow. If your blades are frozen, a simple trick is to wipe them with a cloth soaked in rubbing alcohol. The alcohol will keep the blades from sticking to the glass.

Don’t forget that your side mirrors could freeze, too. To avoid this, wrap the mirrors with a plastic grocery bag and secure with a rubber band. When you remove the bags in the morning, your mirrors should be close, if not entirely, frost-free.

But sometimes, it’s easy to forget to treat your windshield before a frost. So if one morning you find your windshield under a thick coat of ice, start by turning your car on and letting it heat up. Don’t turn the defroster on high just yet, keep it at a low level and slowly increase until your car is toasty.

Meanwhile, spray the surface with a de-icing solution (or vinegar if you don’t have any) and use your ice scraper downward, working your way towards the middle.

Removing ice from a windshield isn’t anyone’s ideal way to start the day. But with these few simple tricks, hopefully the process isn’t as frustrating.

Headquartered in Boston, Plymouth Rock Assurance is a leading auto insurance carrier in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire. Personal auto and commercial auto policies in Massachusetts and Connecticut are underwritten by Plymouth Rock Assurance Corporation. New Hampshire auto and home policies are underwritten by Mt. Washington Assurance Corporation. Each is a member of the Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in auto and homeowners insurance.

Winterizing your car checklist

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Mother Nature spared us with a somewhat mild December. With temperatures reaching well into the sixties on Christmas Day, it’s hard to believe that at that point, winter had “officially” started. But yesterday’s snowfall – though brief – and today’s bitterly cold temperatures are reminders that those Indian summer days are a thing of the past and it’s time to face the winter season.

The winter months can be harsh on your car – freezing temperatures and tough road conditions from snow, ice, salt, sand and potholes can take their toll if your vehicle isn’t properly winterized. However, there are some simple checks and maintenance steps you can take to keep you and your car riding smoothly through the coming months:

Take care of your tires. With rough road conditions and low temperatures (tire pressure decreases when it’s cold), your tires bear the brunt of winter, so regularly check the tread depth and pressure to ensure they’re safe to drive on. For a simple and quick way to measure the tires’ tread, try the penny test.

If you live in an area with regular snowfall, you might consider replacing your all-season or summer tires with snow tires. Snow tires remain flexible and soft in cold temperatures, making them easier to handle on slippery surfaces, like an ice-covered road.

Maximize your visibility. Since wintry conditions impede visibility on the road, it’s imperative that your windshield wipers are working properly – if they’re leaving streaks across the glass, it might be time to replace them with a fresh set of blades.

Be sure to top off the washer fluid with one that contains antifreeze – just using water is dangerous as it’ll likely freeze when the temperature drops.

Check your engine. Cold temperatures cause engine oil to thicken, so make sure you’re using the right oil grade – refer to your owner’s manual if you are unsure of which viscosity you should be using.

Once you’ve determined the right oil for your engine, it’s important to make sure your antifreeze (coolant) to water ratio is appropriate for the cold temperatures. Typically a 50/50 mixture of antifreeze and water is sufficient, but you should check your owner’s manual to see if there is a specific ratio recommendation based on your car model.

How’s your battery? Since cold temperatures adversely affect battery life, take the time to check yours. Refer to your owner’s manual as there could be specific instructions on how to check your type of battery. If it’s in in questionable condition, you may want to consider replacing it – the last thing you want is to be stranded in the middle of a storm on account of a dead battery.

Have the proper tools. We’ve all been there – using your sleeve to brush snow off your windows because you don’t have a proper scraper on hand. This winter, don’t be that guy. Instead, preemptively pack your car with necessary snow-related tools and other important safety items. Your “kit” should include things like a windshield scraper, a shovel, rock salt, jumper cables, and flares.

Additionally, consider packing other safety essentials, like blankets, nonperishable food, water, and a first-aid kit. Check out this list from the American Red Cross on additional emergency kit materials.

Wax and wash. Give your car’s exterior a fresh coat of wax since dirt, salt and other elements could be damaging to its paint finish. And while you may be in the it’s-going-to-get-dirty-again-anyway-so-why-bother-washing-it camp, it’s helpful to wash your car’s exterior a couple times throughout the winter, even if it DOES get dirty shortly thereafter.

The interior matters. Your car’s floors will need extra protection with all the ice, sand and salt that may get tracked in. If you don’t already have some, you might want to consider investing in some floor mats to help protect against the elements.

Last but not least, brakes. The brake system is one of the most vital safety features of your car. And since slowing down and stopping on wet, icy or snow-covered roads can be challenging, it’s important to have your brakes checked by a professional to ensure they’re working properly.

Don’t wait until after the first snowstorm hits – now’s the time to prepare your car for the winter months ahead.

Headquartered in Boston, Plymouth Rock Assurance is a leading auto insurance carrier in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire. Personal auto and commercial auto policies in Massachusetts and Connecticut are underwritten by Plymouth Rock Assurance Corporation. New Hampshire auto and home policies are underwritten by Mt. Washington Assurance Corporation. Each is a member of the Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in auto and homeowners insurance.

Pet Travel Safety

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If your family is anything like mine, your pet is an important member. So when you take your lovable companion on the road, remember to consider their safety and ensure that your furry passenger doesn’t become a distraction to you while driving.

Depending on the size of your pet, you might opt for a seat belt, a crate/carrier, or a car barrier that can be placed between the front and back seats. Your pet should always be in the backseat for safety purposes so they are away from the airbags in the event one deploys in an accident.

If your pet is accompanying you on a long trip, and depending on your final destination, you might think about packing the following items:

  • Water – Either bottled water or tap water stored in plastic jugs, and a spill-proof bowl.
  • Pre-packaged food – Bring along your pet’s usual food, and pre-pack each meal in a sealed bag or container.
  • Biscuits, treats, toys – A favorite toy or two relieves stress.
  • Towels – Bring along some old towels in case your pet takes a swim or an unexpected mud bath.
  • Medications – Don’t forget any pills, ointments, or anything else you give your pet at home.
  • Plastic bags – For cleaning up after your pet.
  • Cleaning supplies – in case there’s an upset stomach or “accident” on the road.

While on the road, consider these tips for your pet’s safety:

  • Stop every couple of hours to let your pet take a break and have some water.
  • Try to avoid letting your pet ride with its head out the window – eye, ear, and head injuries could result.
  • If you are leaving your pet unattended in a car (should only be for a short period of time), crack a window to let fresh air in. Open the sunroof if you have one. And never, ever leave a pet in the car on hot days.
  • Always put your pet on the leash before opening the door or tailgate to let them out.

Taking safety precautions and doing a little extra planning can help keep your pet safe and happy during car rides.

Headquartered in Boston, Plymouth Rock Assurance is a leading auto insurance carrier in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire. Personal auto and commercial auto policies in Massachusetts and Connecticut are underwritten by Plymouth Rock Assurance Corporation. New Hampshire auto and home policies are underwritten by Mt. Washington Assurance Corporation. Each is a member of the Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in auto and homeowners insurance.

Drive Smart. Drive Sober. Get Home Safe.

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There is one surefire way to have a great New Year’s Eve and that is to get home safe. And the best way to make sure that happens is to always drive smart, distraction-free and sober. Make sure that you and your friends have appointed a designated driver, one that you are comfortable with, or volunteer yourself if that makes you feel safer. Also always keep the number of a local, and reliable, taxi service in your phone.NYE party

You can have a great time and celebrate all night, but just make sure you are prepared for the epic night ahead. Here is a quick NYE checklist from Plymouth Rock Assurance to help:

  • Appoint a designated driver (or volunteer yourself).
  • Program a reliable taxi service number into your phone.
  • Have a backup transportation plan just in case things get out of hand or you decide to change your plans.
  • When behind the wheel, keep your cell phone off, passengers calm, and radio at a normal level.
  • Don’t cram too many passengers in your car. It neither safe nor comfortable, so just arrange for a taxi instead.
  • Always wear your seatbelt when you are in the car.
  • Be respectful of law enforcement. They have a tough job to do on New Year’s Eve..

Have fun, be safe and kick off 2016 in style!

Headquartered in Boston, Plymouth Rock Assurance is a leading auto insurance carrier in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire. Personal auto and commercial auto policies in Massachusetts and Connecticut are underwritten by Plymouth Rock Assurance Corporation. New Hampshire auto and home policies are underwritten by Mt. Washington Assurance Corporation. Each is a member of the Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in auto and homeowners insurance.

 

 

Watch for black ice

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New England’s dramatic shift into winter weather brings with it the perfect conditions for black ice. Black ice forms when the air is at 32 degrees or below at the surface and roads are wet from rain, snow, sleet or a combinationblack-ice.

If you have to be on the roads when icy conditions exist, take caution and keep an eye out for hard-to-spot black ice. If you do encounter a patch of ice, remember:

  • Don’t hit the brakes, instead keep your steering wheel steady
  • Lift your foot off the accelerator
  • Be careful not to overcorrect your steering wheel if you feel your car sliding

We hope you stay safe this winter!