Heading up to the Granite State for Fourth of July Festivities?

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Well, if you’re northbound for the holiday, it’s important to note that New Hampshire’s newest anti-distracted driving law takes effect tomorrow, Wednesday, July 1.

Beginning tomorrow, it’s illegal to use a handheld phone while driving in New Hampshire. So for those of you heading north, make sure your calls are made, texts are sent and GPS is turned to “loud” before getting behind the wheel – and if you need to use your phone while on the road, find a safe spot to pull over.

And just a tip: don’t try to send that quick text or look up directions while you’re stopped at a red light or stop sign, the new law forbids that, too.

From all of us at Plymouth Rock Assurance, we wish you and your family a happy, safe and fun Fourth of July Weekend.

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.

We’re making waves at Hampton Beach!

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Otto was up at Hampton Beach in sand AND stone!

The sun was shining (well, not Sunday), the boardwalk was buzzing, and our mascot, Otto, was taking selfies with spectators at the 15th Annual Hampton Beach Master Sand Sculpting Competition.

The widely-popular competition is by invite-only, welcoming ten master sand sculptors from all over the world tasked with using nothing but water, sand and their imaginations to create astonishing works of art right on Hampton Beach. As a celebration of creativity and community, we were pleased to join our friends from Tobey and Merrill Insurance and Mt. Washington Assurance as platinum sponsors for a weekend of all things sand.

But, really, ALL things sand: even our own Otto was erected in sand by the wonderfully talented sculptors.

Sculptors began working on Friday, all vying for the coveted “First Place” title. Competition was tough this year as these artisans are masters in creating beautiful sculptures out of sand, each equipped with an unrivaled imagination.

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Impeccable arc, Otto!

While the artists built their masterpieces, our teams were at the center of the action on the boardwalk keeping the party going with games, music, raffles, prizes, photos and fun. Visitors came for the sand sculptures, but stayed for (we’d like to think so, anyway) the chance to take a selfie with our oh-so-huggable mascot, Otto. Otto – not known for his hand eye coordination, was even spotted playing corn hole with new friends.

By Sunday, ten works of art adorned Hampton Beach. But, like all competitions, only one could be considered the best (though, sandy Otto is our favorite.) So, while the sculpture titled “Life” by Canadian-native Karen Fralich, was dubbed this year’s winner, we’d like to congratulate  all of the 2015 contestants – their vision and skill put them in a league of their own.

Photo courtesy of the Official Hampton Beach Master Sand Sculpting Competition Facebook page

Photo courtesy of the Official Hampton Beach Master Sand Sculpting Competition Facebook page

The sculptures are on display through July 4, so if you’re in the Hampton Beach area, swing by for a chance to marvel at the masters’ artistry. Our Otto is proudly smiling among some elite characters.

And for those who can’t make it up to Hampton, check out their live webcam that displays panoramic views of the entire beach and sculptures – can you spot Otto?

Our sponsorship, shared with Tobey & Merrill Insurance, a local independent agent in the Hampton, NH area, is just another example of our commitment to the community. It’s important to stay involved and support the areas we serve, and we’re so excited to have been included in the 2015 Annual Hampton Beach Master Sand Sculpting Competition.

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.

Erie-Ellington Playground Renovation

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At Plymouth Rock Assurance, we take pride in being a local company. Founded right here in Boston over thirty years ago, we’ve always made it a point to honor our roots and give back to the City of Boston whenever we can.

Plymouth Rock employees and our mascot, Otto, spent the morning beautifying the Erie-Ellington Playground.

Plymouth Rock employees and our mascot, Otto, spent the morning beautifying the Erie-Ellington Playground.

Though we’re committed to helping a variety of great non-profit organizations, our recent participation in the reopening of the Erie-Ellington Playground in Dorchester is something we’re particularly proud of. As part of a statewide initiative to enhance Massachusetts’ public parks and spaces, the Erie-Ellington Playground recently underwent a dramatic facelift that helped make it a well-lit, safe community space for Dorchester residents of all ages.

And while the City’s Capital Improvement Plan and the state’s Common Backyards Grant provided a generous amount of money for the park’s renovation, this funding alone was not enough to cover everything the Dorchester community had asked for – specifically, fitness and exercise equipment. Given our commitment to both community service and health and wellness, Plymouth Rock saw this as a great opportunity to give back. So, to supplement this project, we donated the funding for five new outdoor fitness equipment machines through our relationship with CBS and EcoMedia. These machines, in addition to the other state-of-the-art renovations, now give the residents of Dorchester a safe and healthy public space for exercising, playing or simply hanging out.

PRAC CEO Chris Olie with Mayor Walsh on Saturday

Chris Olie, president and CEO of Plymouth Rock Assurance, with Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh at the Erie-Ellington Playground ribbon cutting ceremony on May 16, 2015.

In preparation of the park’s official reopening last weekend, a group of Plymouth Rock employees spent a Friday morning beautifying Erie-Ellington by picking up trash, sweeping walkways, laying mulch and planting flowers. The next day, the park’s renovation culminated in the official ribbon cutting ceremony with representatives from the Erie-Ellington & Brinsley Partnership Neighborhood Association, the Boston Parks and Recreation Department, as well as Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh himself.

Alongside Mayor Walsh, Chris Olie, our president and CEO, spoke on the importance of providing Massachusetts communities with safe and accessible playgrounds and parks. The outpouring of support from the community members and the overwhelming gratitude from the Neighborhood Association were reminders of why we give back.

With the help of our friends from CBS and EcoMedia, we are very grateful for the opportunity to support the renovation and reopening of the Erie-Ellington Playground in Dorchester. We remain committed to our roots and helping Boston communities whenever we can.

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.

The local advantage

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This week is National Small Business Week – a time to recognize the contributions that small business owners make to our communities. Since many of Plymouth Rock’s independent agents are small business owners integral to our success, we are especially indebted to their entrepreneurial spirits and appreciative of their dedication to the local communities we serve.small business owners

Why small businesses matter. The American Dream was founded on the notion that if you work hard and persevere, you can make something of yourself – a goal the  “average Joe” could achieve. Though we’ve reached a point in history where businesses range from “mom and pop” shops to complex multinational corporations, the romantic ideal of self-made success can still be found as easily on Main Street as it can on Wall Street.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, more than half of Americans either work for or own small businesses – creating two out of three new jobs in the U.S. each year. These numbers suggest that small businesses are still a powerful force behind our economy, and regardless of size, scope or number of patrons, each small business contributes to the American Dream.

Not only do small businesses provide jobs for the majority of the American workforce, but small businesses offer something major corporations might otherwise not: direct quantitative and qualitative benefits to communities.

Quantitative is pretty obvious: keeping dollars in the community. When you shop at the local corner store, the storeowner is more likely to recycle that revenue elsewhere in your community. Locally-owned businesses also create local jobs for people in the community.

Though the qualitative benefits may not be as apparent, they’re just as important. Small business transactions can contribute to the overall well-being of a town. For example, there is an inherent human component when you make a local purchase because you’re connecting directly with other members of your neighborhood.  This is your way of saying, “I support the well-being of our community because I support you and your business.”

Small businesses also offer unique solutions to competition.  While larger, national businesses are more immune to smaller market forces, small business owners are compelled to stay innovative and offer better service to customers because of the diversity in the marketplace.

So, shopping locally benefits everyone: the consumer, the business owner and the community at large.

HOW to support small businesses. Supporting small businesses begins with appreciation – it’s important to understand the impact shopping locally has on your neighborhood. Then, it’s a matter of committing to shopping locally. For example, instead of eating at a chain restaurant, consider eating a meal at a standalone place. Try buying your groceries at the local corner market rather than the big supermarket in the strip mall. Or, consider talking to a local, independent agent rather than a direct online carrier the next time you’re in the market for auto insurance. Unlike a large direct carrier, independent agents offer a personal interaction: they will take the time to understand your needs and educate you on products based on your situation.

If you’re in the Boston area, consider participating in Acoustic on Main – a citywide initiative to connect neighborhoods, local businesses and live performers in honor of National Small Business Week.

While shopping locally, remember to share your favorite experiences with others because word of mouth and referrals are some of the best ways to learn about new businesses, products and services. Whether it’s through social media or leaving a consumer review, it’s easy to get the word out on your favorite spots.

So, as consumers, we should appreciate the resilience of Main Street business owners and show that appreciation by shopping locally – not just during National Small Business Week – but all year.

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.

You’re all moved in… now what?

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Spring is a busy time for buying and selling homes. The snow is (mostly) gone, making homes more attractive to potential buyers. Plus, the warmer temperatures make the arduous task of actually moving a little bit less painful.Giving house keys

Moving can be an exciting time, but the amount of work involved sometimes feels overwhelming. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! If you’re buying or selling a home this spring (or whenever!) check out this list steps you might’ve forgotten about amidst the excitement:

  • Change the locks. Unless the house is brand new, there’s no way of knowing who has made copies of the keys over the years. Once the papers are signed and the keys are in your hand, switch out the locks so that you can account for anyone who can access your home.
  • Forward your mail. Head to the post office and setup mail forwarding so that you don’t miss any important bills or other communications. If you’d rather, you can do it online through the US Postal Service website. Although this can be done before the actual move, this step can easily be forgotten among the laundry list of other things that need to be taken care of. Since there’s always the chance that some mail doesn’t make it to your new address, it’s a good idea to leave your new address with the people at your previous residence for stragglers or check in periodically if possible.
  • Update your license and registration. It’s important for these documents to have your most current address. Also, if you’ve moved to an area that requires a residence permit to park on the street, you’ll need to provide proof that your car is actually registered in that town.
  • Notify important constituents. Let any organization that needs your address know that you’ve relocated. For example, usually a credit card is tied to your address. So, before your card is declined, let your carrier know that you’ve moved.
  • Get reconnected. If you need to, now’s the time to setup your cable, internet and phone services.
  • Don’t forget about your health. If you’ve relocated to an entirely new area, you’ll want to find a new doctor and dentist. Have your old healthcare providers forward your medical records. If you can keep the same doctor and dentist, just be sure to notify them of your address change.
  • Start fresh. Give the inside of your new home a good cleaning,  especially if it isn’t a new construction. Sometimes previous owners can leave a messy trail once they’ve moved out. Now that you’re in the home, you’ll want a clean – both literally and figuratively – slate to make it your own.
  • Window treatments. Once officially in your new home, be sure to install window treatments for privacy’s stake if there aren’t any already.
  • Cosmetics. After you’ve taken care of the big construction (if any), now’s the time to tackle those cosmetic fixes. If you’re taking down wallpaper and painting rooms, make sure to drape sheets over your furniture to protect it from paint and other chemicals.

This list is but the tip of the iceberg for what needs to be done after moving into a new home. We hope you’ve gained some valuable insight and can use this as a starting point for your post-move responsibilities.

Happy moving!

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.

 

Wipers on, headlights on

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If you’re a Massachusetts driver, you might be aware that effective today, it’s against the law not to have your headlights and taillights on while using your windshield wipers. This is an amendment to an existing Massachusetts law regarding headlight and taillight usage.windshield wipers

Before today, Mass General Law Chapter 85, Section 15 required the use of headlights and taillights from half an hour after sunset to half an hour before sunrise. However, the expansion now mandates lights to be on during all low-visibility conditions, regardless of time of day. It may seem unnecessary, especially if it’s the middle of the day, but the amendment is intended to make driving safer during low-visibility conditions.

The price? Well, although the law is accompanied by a $5 fine for violators, drivers should be aware that it’s considered a minor surchargeable traffic violation for insurance purposes. Not sure what that means or how it will affect you? Check out the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles’ explanation here.

Moving forward, err on the side of caution and turn on your headlights and taillights when driving in questionable conditions. Whether you’re in Massachusetts or another state, it’s a good habit to get into, to increase both yours and other drivers’ safety on the road.

So, when in doubt, think “wipers on, headlights on.”

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.

Spring into National Car Care Month!

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Winter is a rough time for your car. With salted roads, potholes, snow, ice and maybe neglect (for you city dwellers), your car is probably just as excited about springtime as you are. And with April being National Car Care Month, now’s the perfect time to literally – and figuratively – wipe away winter’s dirt and grime.

Rescuing your car from winter does require some TLC, but rest assured both you and your car will be happy you took the time to do so.

De-clutter. Remove unnecessary items from inside your car. That ice scraper sitting in your trunk? Put it in the garage – hopefully you won’t need it anytime soon. Those extra scarves, gloves, hats and other clothing you’ve accumulated on your backseat? Put them with the rest of your winter clothes – they’re just a painful reminder of months past. Nothing says a “fresh start” to spring like purging your car of unneeded items.Wash me sign on dirty car

Vacuum the inside. Starting from the top and working your way down, vacuum all interior surfaces. Before you vacuum the floor, remove the floor mats (if you have them) and thoroughly vacuum underneath. Although it may seem like the floor underneath the mat is safe, you’d be surprised by where dirt and salt can settle.

Floor mats require extra attention. Floor mats likely suffer the most from winter’s wrath. With boots constantly dragging who knows what into the car, by the end of the winter they’re usually caked with dirt and other elements. If you have rubber floor mats, great. They won’t take long to wash. However, if you have carpeted mats, it’s worth taking a power-wash to them at least twice. If you don’t have a power-washer, consider using one at the self-service station at a local car wash.

Give the interior a good scrub. Leather or cloth, it’s worth wiping down your seats. And while you’re at it, give the dashboard and the surface behind the backseat (if you’re in a sedan) a good wipe down.

…and the exterior. Some cars turn a shade of gray by winter’s end from all the snow, salt, dirt and ice that get kicked around. Whether you go the old soap in a bucket route or opt for a professional cleaning, the exterior of your car needs as much attention as the interior. Don’t forget to thoroughly clean your headlights, tail lights and mirrors.

Check your wipers. By winter’s end, your wipers could be worn down. So, it might be worth investing in a new set so they aren’t scraping against your windshield for the rest of the year. While you’re at it, be sure to check the wiper fluid.

Switch your tires. If you live in an area that suffers from long and snowy winters, you may have winter tires. Before it gets too warm, switch out the heavy duty tires for your all-season set since the former aren’t meant for hot temperatures – you’ll get more use out of them next winter that way. Be sure to give them a good scrub before storing.

Pro tip: Before putting your all-season tires on, the coin test is a good way to check the tires’ tread-depth and determine if they’re safe to drive on

It’s a good idea to schedule a routine tune-up with standard maintenance checks, including:

  • All fluids, including the engine oil, antifreeze/coolant, power steering, brake and transmission
  • Hoses and belts – make sure they’re in good shape
  • Battery
  • Brake system – these should be inspected by a professional during a standard oil change
  • Exhaust system – make sure there are no leaks
  • Heating, ventilating and AC system
  • Steering and suspension system

This year, spring into action and get your car running at peak performance. This list may seem daunting, but it’s better to be proactive than break down on the side of the road on account of unpreparedness.

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

 

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