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Baldwin / Welsh & Parker

Baldwin / Welsh & Parker

On December 21, 2018, Massachusetts Governor Baker signed a statute requiring registration and taxation of short-term rentals of residential properties in the state which must be a period of less than thirty-one consecutive calendar days. The following is a snapshot of the new law and how it affects those who rent rooms or properties through websites such as Airbnb, VRBO and others. 

"…an owner-occupied, tenant-occupied or non-owner-occupied property including, but not limited to, an apartment, house, cottage, condominium or a furnished accommodation …where: (i) at least one room or unit is rented to an occupant or sub-occupant; and (ii) all accommodations are reserved in advance…"

Tuesday, 23 April 2019 12:10

Disrupting Distracted Driving

You've heard about the typical distractions, such as texting while driving, chatting with friends, changing the radio station, but how about these crazy reasons for distracted driving accidents?

  • Susan Laine was driving down the street and saw a man balancing his laptop on his steering wheel.
  • Someone scared the living daylights out of Darnell Martin when the driver of the car he was riding in took his eyes off the road to reach into the back seat for a slice of pizza while traveling about 40 mph.
  • Imagine the surprise Jessica Bryant had when she saw someone painting their toenails while cruising down the road.
  • “Someone I knew took a lovely photo of the sunrise doing about 75-80 mph in the fast lane on I-75,” Lori Gillespie said.
  • “I shaved my legs while driving to a wedding once,” Kay said in her post. “The nicks alone were enough to teach me a lesson.”
  • Andrea Grace said she tried to open a package she received in the mail and realized the combination of trying to drive and see what she had just didn’t work out too well.
  • And there are more instances of distractions such as changing clothes, opening mail and packages, steering with a knee or an elbow, reading, and shaving -- all behind the wheel while driving.

While these accounts from motorists seem outlandish, and even silly, they happen more than most of us would care to admit. And they are dangerous. What's worse, is that these occurrences of distracted driving are not uncommon -- they are just a small sampling wide-ranging distracted driving actions.

Everyone Can Play a Role in Preventing Distracted Driving

More than 37,000 people died on U.S. roads in 2017 — a staggering number. Policymakers, law enforcement, and victims' families point to distracted driving as an important contributing factor. However, contrary to popular belief, distracted driving does not have to involve a phone. In fact, the phrase 'distracted driving' refers to a broad range of activities -- any activity that distracts your brain from the task at hand.


Distracted Driving Isn't Just About Texting While Driving

Three Travelers executives relay how everyone on the road can combat distracted driving:

When you rent a vehicle do you familiarize yourself with the controls, such as the lights and windshield wipers, while you’re driving? Do you ever eat a burger or have a cup of coffee while you’re behind the wheel? All of these behaviors can be distractions that force drivers to take their eyes off the road.

“Distraction isn’t just about texting,” said Pete Gulbrandsen, Vice President of National Auto at Travelers. “It’s really anything that distracts you; even just your brain wandering.” Gulbrandsen is one of several Travelers leaders taking part in the Travelers Institute® Every Second Matters℠ symposium series, which is raising awareness about distracted driving risks through events on college campuses across the United States and Canada.

We’ve all heard about distracted driving studies and listened to warnings issued from the NHTSA, National Safety Council, and a slew of car insurance companies. Distracted driving is responsible for millions of auto accidents and thousands of deaths per year.

So why don’t we just stop, put down our phones, and focus on the road? For many drivers, it's not easy to change habits. Yet the struggle against distracted driving is bigger than statistics and public service announcements. We all need to pitch in to help stop distracted driving. Here are five easy ways to do that.

#1 Be an Example: It sounds easy, but in today’s digitally connected world this is very difficult for many. If you want your friends and loved ones to stop using their mobile phones and indulging other dangerous habits behind the wheel, the change starts with you. Make sure while driving that your phone is silenced and stored in a place where you won’t be tempted to check it, even if you have to store the phone in a closed compartment. Your friends might think you’re nuts, but your devotion to their safety and focus on the road will wear off on them!

#2 Insist on Safety: You might have to endure some eye rolls and heavy sighing, but it is worth it. Every time you get in the car as a passenger, encourage others, especially the driver, to silence their phones. We don’t want to cost you any friends but insisting that the driver silences his or her phone is pretty important. You could also volunteer to drive, which will continue to reinforce your good example to the people around you and help alleviate some eye rolling.

#3 Slow Your Roll: We all know driving too fast is dangerous, but these days, we are in such a rush that we forget to “get ready” before we drive off down the Turnpike. Before you put the car in drive, make sure you are prepped for the trip. Set your GPS destination, find your favorite radio station, finish eating, and finalize those last minute grooming needs all before you begin rolling. A little preparation can go a long way toward saving a life.

#4 Know Your Distractions: There is no doubt about it, some of us are more easily distracted than others, and we each have unique trigger points for distraction. Knowing and understanding what gets you easily distracted can help you avoid those situations, including too many friends in the car, the urge to eat hot french fries from the take-out order (next time put the order in the trunk), or your dog panting in the backseat. Keeping yourself out of these situations before they start will keep you and your passengers safe.

#5 Make Driving Your Quiet Time: Need a little quiet in your life? Consider making your commute your quiet time. Turn off the radio, power down your phone, and don’t be afraid to tell your passengers to zip it.

April is Distracted Driving Month. While the use of cell phones is down, it's not a statistically significant decrease. we must continue the commitment to drive without distractions. https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812665

Sources: Plymouth Rock Assurance

 

Spring has sprung and your home is due for a thorough cleaning but there are a few tasks you should add to your spring cleaning checklist to lower your risk of having an insurance claim while you’re at it. These 10 spring cleaning tips from Central Insurance Companies will improve your home and help prevent home insurance claims.

Spring cleaning your house:

  1. Change and Test Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors. Spring is a good time to change the batteries in your home smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. It is also a good idea to test these units (once a month is recommended) while you are replacing the batteries to ensure they are still working correctly before it is too late.

  2. Clean the Dryer Vent/Hose. It is good to clean the lint hose on your dryer once a year, as some lint may get past the trap. Clean the dryer exhaust duct and under the machine as well. This will help reduce the likelihood of a fire starting and it can even save you money, as you won’t need to run the dryer as long.

  3. Change Heating System Filters. Filters should be changed several times a year, not only during the winter season.

  4. TuneUp Air Conditioner. Have a professional tune up your AC before summer temperatures rise. This could help your AC run better and cooler, and will ensure there are no issues that will come up.

  5. Inspect Water Heater. Check your water heater for leaks or corrosion that need to be repaired. Fixing these issues as they arise will keep repair costs low and help prevent any major damages.

  6. Inspect Window and Door Seals. Before you head outside to start your yard work, check all the seals on your windows and doors to see if there are any cracks in the caulking, where leaks can form and cause damage. If you find any dried out seals, re-caulk them to keep out moisture.

Spring cleaning the outside of your house:

  1. Trees: Trim any dead branches that may be on your property or near powerlines to prevent them from causing damage as the result of a storm. Trim any healthy trees to keep them under control and away from wires.

  2. Roof: Check for any damages that may have been caused during the winter from ice or snow and repair them to reduce the chance of leaks.

  3. Gutters: While you have the ladder out to check the roof, it is a good idea to clean out the gutters too. This will keep the water flowing away from your house and prevent the possibility of water damage and leaks.

  4. Shrubs: Trim any shrubs or bushes near or around your house to deter thieves. Home break-ins increase during the summer months and bushes that are untrimmed provide coverage for criminals.

While these tips will help to prevent any serious damage that could lead to a claim, the best way to guarantee you are protected in the event of an accident is to have the right coverage for your specific needs. And the best way to ensure that you have the coverage you need is to call and speak with our knowledgeable insurance experts at 800-590-5383 to review your current policy or get a free, quick quote.

Tuesday, 02 April 2019 15:48

6 Tips To Get Your Home Spring Ready

Spring is a favorite season for most of us in New England. We are ready to plant, work in the yard and on the house, and we're ready to spend as much time outdoors as possible. In addition to enjoying warm temperatures and longer days however, spring brings rain, storms, and other hazards that could cause damage to your home. Follow this checklist from Central Insurance Companies to ensure that your home is prepared for spring weather.

  1. Check your roof for damaged or missing shingles. If damaged, call in a roofing professional before the next big storm.
  2. Trim damaged trees to prevent them from damaging your property or your neighbor's property. Winter winds, snow, and ice cause tree damage that may not be visible until a spring storm hits.
  3. Check window seals to prevent leaks from driving rain.Nor'easters are famous for driving rain and so are other storms. Check the interior of windows to detect possible winter damage. 
  4. Clean the gutters or call in a gutter cleaning professional. Gutters clogged with pine needles and leaves can block drainage and cause water damage to your home. 
  5. Change the filter on your air conditioner and/or have a professional inspect your system. Annual checkups will help to prevent issues when you need air conditioning most.
  6. Do a homeowners policy review with us to ensure you have the coverages you need.

Call us at800-590-5383 to review your homeowner's policy and to better understand the coverage your policy provides. 

 

Home network security refers to the protection of a network that connects devices to each other and to the internet within a home. Whether it’s staying in touch with friends and family, paying your bills electronically, or teleworking, the internet enables us to accomplish tasks more efficiently and conveniently from the comfort of our own homes. However, as we increasingly embed technology into our daily lives, the risk of security issues also increases. As a result, it’s imperative that home users understand and remain vigilant about the risks of being connected to the internet and the importance of properly securing home networks and systems.

2 Common Misconceptions About Home Network Security

Home users share two common misconceptions about the security of their networks.

  1. They believe that their home network is too small to be at risk of a cyberattack.
  2. They believe that their devices are “secure enough” right out of the box.

Most attacks are not personal in nature and can occur on any type of network—big or small, home or business. If a network connects to the internet, it is inherently more vulnerable and susceptible to outside threats.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019 00:48

Secure Your Wireless Router

One of the leading cybersecurity firms in the U.S. reported that wireless routers were the most frequently exploited type of device. Yet, all new routers arrive with the same default password: "password." For security purposes that password should be changed toavoid unwanted access and to protect your home network.

Change Your Router Password

The first step to locking down your network is to change your wireless router's administrator password from the default to a more secure password to prevent unauthorized persons from accessing the web-based setup page of your router and changing any of its settings.  

The following instructions are for a Netgear router that was previously set up. If you are setting up a new router, follow the instructions provided. Click here for Linksys instructions.

You've received these emails -- some are obvious, some are not: Phishing emails continue to be one of the most common initial attack vectors employed by for malware delivery and credential harvesting. Attacking the human element—considered the weakest component in every network—continues to be extremely effective. To infect a system, the attacker simply has to persuade a user to click on a link or open an attachment. The good news is that there are many indicators that you can use to quickly identify a phishing email. The best defense against these attacks is to become an educated and cautious user and familiarize yourself with the most common elements of a phishing attack. Below are some common indicators of a phishing email.

  • Suspicious Sender’s Address. Pay attention to the sender's email address. It may imitate a legitimate business. With only few characters altered or omitted, cybercriminals will often use an email address that closely resembles one from a reputable company.
  • Generic Greetings and Signature. Both a generic greeting—such as “Dear Valued Customer” or “Sir/Ma’am”—and a lack of contact information in the signature block are strong indicators of a phishing email. A trusted organization will normally address you by name and provide their contact information.
Tuesday, 22 January 2019 15:06

Top 3 Causes of House Fires

Home Fires Peak During Winter Months

According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) the number one cause of home structure fires and home fire injuries is cooking equipment. But there are two other top causes as well. Learn how to prevent these major cause of home fires.

#1 Cause of House Fires: Kitchen Cooking

Tuesday, 22 January 2019 14:56

Pellet Stove Safety

It is common for many homeowners to use a pellet stove as a primary or secondary heat source during the cooler months. While these types of stoves can be convenient and economical, it is important to follow some critical guidelines and safety precautions when installing and operating pellet stoves.

First, the pellet stove installation should only be performed by a licensed and/or certified professional installer. (See National Fireplace Institute: http://nficertified.org). Improper installation can potentially lead to fire, smoke damage, and/or carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Make sure your installer obtains a permit when installing a pellet stove. This will help ensure that the installation is done properly and will meet current building codes.

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