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.

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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.

Employees reflect on working at Plymouth Rock: Part 4

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Part four of our Boston Globe’s Top Places to Work employee blog series features an executive assistant from our technology branch:

What makes any company a great place to work? Each person would have their own reasons, but for me, Plymouth Rock has the right mix of ingredients. The location in Boston, awesome co-workers and the solid history of Plymouth Rock are all contributing factors. Aside from being a leader in the insurance industry, creating an environment for people to grow careers and ensuring we are challenged every day, Plymouth Rock makes certain this is isn’t just a boring job and coordinates fun events throughout the year. Our summer outing was spectacular – a day out on the Boston Harbor with a lobster bake. Additionally, since June, there has been a wellness program that has become an obsession for many! The list goes on, but all these little perks and attention to detail make Plymouth Rock a place not only to work but also to build friendships.MichellePaquette

I’ve been working since I was fourteen – sometimes more than one job at a time! From shoe sales to college recruiting to a letter carrier for the USPS – I’ve run the gamut. I worked for my previous employer for ten years, starting while I was still in college. I feel like those experiences have given me a great amount of perspective now that I work at Plymouth Rock. I see all that Plymouth Rock does for its employees and can appreciate it all. It is also a size where you don’t feel lost, but always have the opportunity to meet new people. It is a company that takes business seriously, but still knows how to have a good time.

I love my job because I feel like I do valuable work and make a difference. Plymouth Rock has a great program where anyone can send recognition to a co-worker for a job well done. I’ve earned two in six months, and I certainly feel like a “RockStar!” This program pushes people to not only shine in front of their supervisor, but with each person they interact with. It is easy to see why so many have made Plymouth Rock their employer for so long. I consider myself very lucky to be working for such an exciting, supportive company.

-Michelle Paquette, Executive Assistant, Shared Technology Services Group, A Plymouth Rock Company

Headquartered in Boston, Shared Technology Services Group Inc. provides technology services to The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in auto and homeowners insurance throughout the northeast.

Plymouth Rock Employee wins “Marketing Representative of the Year”

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Congratulations to Plymouth Rock employee Patty Mellon, who was recently awarded “Marketing Representative of the Year” by Foy Insurance, a Plymouth Rock independent agent with locations in Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Patty Mellon photographed with Jeff Foy of Foy Insurance.

Patty Mellon photographed with Jeff Foy of Foy Insurance.

For almost 20 years, Patty has traveled around Massachusetts visiting Plymouth Rock’s independent agents in her role as a Marketing Representative. Among other things, Patty acts as a liaison and advocate for the agents she works with, providing them with marketing and tactical support on behalf of Plymouth Rock. To learn more about Patty’s experience as a Marketing Representative, check out her recent blog entry explaining why she loves working at Plymouth Rock.

Employees at Foy Insurance selected Patty from a pool of Marketing Representatives from each of the agency’s carriers.

We’re excited to hear about Patty’s recognition and wish her the best of luck moving forward in 2015. Congrats, Patty!

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.

Time is Precious: Take advantage of what’s left of winter break

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Although the holidays are behind us, many college students across the Bay State are still on winter break for a few more weeks. Before classes resume and you’re back to the books, take advantage of these precious few weeks and get out! Don’t let the weather discourage you (we’re looking at you, snow).Whether you’re still at home or have been hunkered down in your off-campus pad, we at Plymouth Rock want you to have a safe, fun, and stress-free rest of winter break. To make planning your last few weeks easier, we’ve compiled a list of some spots to check out in the Greater Boston area!Mike's Blog Photo

  1. Get Creative!—Try a group paint class with friends as an alternative to the usual movie and dinner! Follow along to the instructions of a seasoned artist and paint a masterpiece! Take your art home and wow your friends and family with your newly acquired skills.
  2. Immerse Yourself in Culture—Boston is home to some of the most beautiful museums and works of art imaginable. Keeping in mind Boston’s robust student population, some museums offer discount or free admission at certain times during the week! For example, head to the Museum of Fine Arts on Wednesdays to see classic works from some of history’s most famous names. For a modern feel, consider the Institute of Contemporary Art’s free exhibits on Thursdays featuring an ever changing lineup of galleries.
  3. Skate through history—Located in the picturesque Boston Common, the Frog Pond skating rink welcomes novice skaters and Olympic –gold aspirers alike from mid-November to mid-March. Don’t forget that Tuesday is college night where admission with a valid college ID is $2. This iconic location is accessible from the Park Street T Station. And if you’re starved after a go around the rink, kick off your ice skate rentals and enjoy homemade mac and cheese at the onsite café.  If it couldn’t get any better, the 360 degree views of the city aren’t hard on the eyes either!
  4. Laugh off some stress—Visit one of Boston’s many comedy clubs and cure whatever winter blues are ailing you! From the Improv Asylum to Laugh Boston and Dick Doherty’s Beantown Comedy Den, shows are offered most nights of the week. Head out and see some local acts; maybe even become part of the show! For more ideas about places to check out, click here!
  5. Hit the slopes—New England is home to countless mountains, which means countless outdoor opportunities. For many of them, you don’t even have to leave the state. Go skiing, night-tubing, snowboarding, zip lining, hiking, and so much more! For a quick day trip, try Nashoba Valley, home of New England’s largest mountain-side tubing park with an unprecedented 18 lanes of fun, serviced by 4 lifts!
  6. Rise to the top—take advantage of Boston’s stunning and snow-covered skyline with a trip to the Top of the Hub or Skywalk Observatory. While you’re up there, snap a few photos, grab a cup of cocoa, or splurge and get some dinner before venturing back down into the chilly urban streets.
  7. Jazz things up—Relax with some smooth music at one of Boston’s many local jazz joints such as the South End’s Beehive. This underground spot is famous for showcasing up and coming jazz performers as well as having an amazing menu. If you’re looking for some blues and soul, head on over to Wally’s, also located in the South End, just remember to bring your dancing shoes as this place is known for getting down!

For a complete list of even more exciting activities to do during your time off this winter break, head over to Boston.com for their list of the 25 best ways to spend this winter for under $25.

Written by Michael Capolino, contributing blogger. 

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.