Insurance Blog
Thursday, 14 December 2017 16:46

Don’t Get Stuck in the Snow

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Forty-one percent of all weather-related car crashes on U.S. roads are due to conditions involving snow, sleet, ice, and slush. Accidents caused by winter weather result in 150,000 injuries and 2,000 deaths each year, on average, according to a study by the Federal Highway Administration.

First Things First: What To Do Before It Snows

  • Before the next storm arrives, check your tire air pressure as well as tire tread. If the tread is worn, it's time to buy new tires.
  • If you drive long distances and frequently, you may want to consider snow tires for New England winter driving. Snow tires offer the best traction -- according to The Heart of New England, traction is improved by 25% in deep snow with snow tires vs. over all-season tires. (Find out how to choose snow tires.) Note that four-wheel drive vehicles, require replacement all four tires to maintain safe handling, not just the rear tires. 
  • If you drive on well plowed and maintained roads, you may get by with all-season tires that are in good condition.
  • If you drive on roads that aren't as well maintained during snow storms, an all-wheel-drive vehicle with winter tires will serve you well
  • A Consumer Reports survey indicates that most AWD drivers don’t think of adding winter tires: Of 54,295 subscribers who drove AWD or 4WD vehicles in the snow for more than six days during the winter of 2014, less than 15 percent equipped their vehicles with winter tires. The rest kept rolling on their all-season tires and took their chances. Consumer Reports strongly recommends  buying four winter tires for whatever vehicle you drive.

Is All-Wheel Drive Enough For New England Winter Driving?

All-wheel drive is perceived as a must-have for many car buyers. But can all-wheel drive really save you when there's snow and ice on the roads? It provides some benefit, but it may be insufficient to get you through a touch New England storm. All-wheel drive gets your car moving from a dead stop, but there are limitations.

According to tests done by Consumer Reports, "Through weeks of driving in snowy, unplowed conditions at Consumer Reports’ 327-acre test center in Connecticut, we found that all-wheel drive didn’t aid in braking or in certain cornering situations. Our evaluations conclusively showed that using winter tires matters more than having all-wheel drive in many situations, and that the difference on snow and ice can be significant."



Keep a snow shovel in your vehicle.

It's better to be prepared with a shovel in your vehicle. Not only will this come in handy for you, you may be a hero to those who are caught unprepared. (Speaking of preparedness, here’s a winter safety kit checklist of other items to keep in your car so you’re ready for pretty much any winter road condition.)


  1. Store a snow shovel in your vehicle. This is particularly handy when you're vehicle is plowed in.
  2. Keep a 20 lb. bag of clay kitty litter in the trunk of your car during the winter months. The added weight in the trunk can help stabilize you (whether or not you have rear-wheel drive), keeping you in control of your vehicle on slick roads. And if you get stuck, simply sprinkle some of the litter around each tire to provide traction in ice or snow.
  3. Turn off the car’s traction control system (usually with a button somewhere on the dashboard or console). Both drive wheels need to have traction for you to get you unstuck. These are the front tires on a front-wheel-drive and the rear tires on rear-wheel drive, AWD and 4WD vehicles. 
  4. Stay with your vehicle; it provides temporary shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to locate you.
  5. Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna or place a cloth at the top of a rolled up window as a distress signal.
  6. If you become stranded after dark, keep the dome light on. It only uses a small amount of electricity and will make it easier for rescuers to find you.
  7. Make sure the exhaust pipe isn’t clogged with snow, ice or mud. If the engine is running, a blocked exhaust could cause deadly carbon monoxide fumes to leak into the passenger compartment.
  8. Use whatever is available to insulate your body from the cold. This could include floor mats, newspapers or paper maps.
  9. If possible, run the engine and heater just long enough to remove the chill while trying to conserve gasoline.


Monday, 11 September 2017 15:30

Glossary of Weather Terms

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We are in the middle of hurrican season, which is June 1st - November 30th, and there's 24/7 weather coverage during which weather experts toss around a variety of terms. Have you ever wondered what they all mean? For example, during Hurricane Irma, the two terms that got a lot of air time were "the best track" and "the European model." If you wondered what all these terms mean, here's a list of storm terms and their meanings.

  • The best track is a smoothed representation of a storm’s location and intensity over its lifetime. The best track contains the storm system’s latitude, longitude, maximum sustained surface winds, and minimum sea-level pressure at six-hour intervals, based on a post-storm assessment of all available data.
  • The European model is considered by meteorologists to be the most accurate model for predicting hurricanes in the mid-latitudes. The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), which runs the model, developed a its method for integrating real-time meteorological data into their algorithm (so it starts with more accurate initial conditions), and invested in very advanced computer hardware. Both the European and the American models are predictive mathematical models, so they don’t necessarily reflect the hurricane path issued by the National Hurricane Center.
  • The eyewall is the band or ring of cumulonimbus clouds that surround the eye of the storm. The most severe weather of the hurricane occurs in the eyewall: Towering thunderstorms, heavy rainfall, and high winds.
  • The Fujiwhara effect occurs when two tropical cyclones orbit around one another.
  • A hurricane is a tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 74 mph.
  • The hurricane categories are a naming convention system. Hurricanes are classified into five categories based on the intensities of their sustained winds, which is known as the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale.
    Category 1:Winds speeds of 74-95 mph; very dangerous winds will produce some damage
    Category 2:Wind speeds of 96-110 mph; extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage
    Category 3: Wind speeds of 111-129 mph; devastating damage will occur
    Category 4: Wind speeds of 130-156 mph; catastrophic damage will occur
    Category 5: Wind speeds greater than 156 mph; catastrophic damage will occur and most areas will be uninhabitable
  • A hurricane warning is an announcement that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are expected somewhere within the specified area in association with a tropical storm.
  • A hurricane watch is an announcement that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are possible within the specified area in association with a tropical storm.
  • Latent heat is the heat required to convert a solid into a liquid or vapor without a change in temperature. When water vapor condenses to form clouds, latent heat (energy) is released, which helps storms intensify by warming the surrounding air and causing instability.
  • A major hurricane has winds greater than 110 mph.
  • Maximum sustained winds is the standard measure of a tropical cyclone’s intensity. It refers to the highest one-minute average wind speed (at an elevation of 10 meters with an unobstructed exposure) associated with that weather system at a particular point in time.
  • A monsoon is not a storm, but a large-scale, seasonal wind shift over a region accompanied by large amplitude seasonal changes in precipitation (whether heavy rains or draught).
  • The radius of maximum winds is the distance from the center of a tropical cyclone to the location of the cyclone’s maximum winds. In well-developed hurricanes, the radius of maximum winds is typically at the inner edge of the eyewall.
  • A storm surge is the rise in sea levels following a hurricane or major storm, where the height is the difference between the observed sea level and the level the water would be without a cyclone. Storm surge is usually estimated by subtracting the normal high tide from the observed storm tide.
  • A storm tide is the actual level of sea water resulting from the normal tide combined with the storm surge.
  • A tropical cyclone is a general term for warm weather storm systems that occur over tropical waters, such as tropical storms, hurricanes, and typhoons. A cyclone has a well-defined center, and rotates counter-clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • A tropical depression is a tropical cyclone with a maximum sustained wind speed of less than 39 mph.
  • A tropical storm is a tropical cyclone with maximum sustained wind speeds between 39 mph and 73 mph.
  • A typhoon is a tropical cyclone that forms in the Pacific Ocean between 180° and 100°E, with winds of 74 mph or greater. Typhoons are the same weather phenomena as hurricanes; the only difference between them is the location where the storm occurs.

Now, the next time you hear one of these terms on a weather update, you'll have a better understanding of what it means.

Wednesday, 06 September 2017 22:42

7 Ways to Prepare for a Hurricane

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Hurricane Irma, a category 5 storm, is expected to impact the United States this week when it reaches Florida. At this time, there's no way to know if the storm will impact New England; however, it is hurricane season and we have experienced hurricanes in New England in the past. Before a devastating storm reaches our area, it's a good idea to plan ahead. What can you do to prepare for a potential hurricane? Here's what you need to help you and your family remain safe:


1. Prepare a Basic Disaster Supply Kit

  • Water - one gallon of water for drinking and sanitation per person, per day, for at least three days
  • Food - at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio, and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
  • Extra batteries
  • Cell phone chargers and portable backup batteries
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air, and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Local maps with evacuation locations - find evacuation zone maps

Checklist for Business Owners and Operators

While we watched the destruction by Hurricane Harvey, and continue to watch hurrican Irma tracking towards the United States after leaving a path of destruction in the Carribean, New England residents and business owners may wonder if a major weather event like that could happen here. The answer, according to meteorologists, is probably not. "Harvey was a very unique storm in that it stalled," said Jacob Wycoff, a meteorologist for Western Mass News in Springfield. "We are so close to the jet stream [that] we don't get that type of stalling system." Additionally, Irma is the stongest hurrican in the Atlantic ever recorded. 

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