Happy New Year 2022

Waitte's Insurance wishes you a Happy New Year!

Many of us have been making annual New Year’s resolutions for years, though we might not realize just how old this tradition is. The oldest record of New Year’s resolutions takes us back approximately 4000 years to celebrations of the ancient Baylonians whose new year coincided with the planting of their crops in mid-March (History.com). Their twelve-day religious festival, Akitu, included resolutions to pay any debts and return any borrowed objects, as well as reaffirming their loyalty to the current king or crowning a new one (History.com). The Babylonians believed if they kept their resolutions, “their gods would bestow favor on them for the coming year” (History.com).

Typical modern-day New Year’s resolutions involve weight loss, healthy eating, increasing exercise, or spending less money. Unfortunately, according to the New York Post, only about eight percent of people who make New Year’s resolutions actually follow through with their goals.

Why is the failure rate so high when the tradition for resolutions is so common? New York Times writer Jen Miller suggests that we may be making these resolutions for the wrong reasons, including the following three:

  • The resolution is too vague
  • There is no realistic plan for achieving the resolution
  • The resolution is based on what someone else (or society) thinks we should do (NYTimes.com)

Citing the journal Management Review, Miller suggests that what works for management can also be applied to New Year’s resolutions. The theory is that we will be more successful when we make “SMART'' resolutions--those that are specific (lose a certain number of pounds within a set time period, for example), measurable (track your progress in a journal), achievable (break your goals into realistic steps), relevant (be sure the goal is a positive step for you), and time-bound (give yourself time to reach your big goal with intermediate time-based steps along the way) (NYTimes.com).

As we look toward a new year with hopes of positive change, consider ditching the tired, typical old resolutions for something more inspiring, sustainable, and meaningful for your life: cook something new each week, read more books, join a new club, become a plant owner (check out the related article below), take the stairs (even when you’re tired), plan a vacation, drink more water, jumpstart a new career, consider therapy, volunteer, learn a new skill (or hone an old one) (GoodHousekeeping.com).

Whatever your goals, we hope 2022 is a great year for you!

GoodHousekeeping.com
GoodHousekeeping.com "30 Gorgeous Plants That Are Almost Impossible to Kill"
History.com
NYPost.com
NYTimes.com

How other nations celebrate Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving from everyone at Waitte's Insurance!

As we dive into the turkey and pie on Thanksgiving, we might enjoy learning about how others give thanks too.

Canadian Thanksgiving was first celebrated in 1578 when English navigator Martin Frobisher and his crew celebrated their safe Arctic journey in what is now Nanavut (History.com). Soon after, French settlers came to the area and “held feasts with their indigenous neighbors” (Readersdigest.ca). United States traditions were spread by those who moved into Canada from the southern border, and today, Canadian Thanksgiving looks much like our own. Though the celebration is held on the second Monday in October, most feasts will include the turkey we are familiar with, and following the meal, citizens will watch the Canadian Football League’s annual Thanksgiving Day Classic and enjoy spending time with their families (History.com). Other than the earlier date, the most remarkable difference between American and Canadian Thanksgiving may lie not in the meal but the additional activities. A Thanksgiving Day hike is a popular tradition as a means to enjoy the outdoors before cold weather sets in. 

German Thanksgiving, known as Erntedank or Erntedankfest, is an autumn harvest festival that takes place in September or October depending on the region (German-way.com). In rural areas, festivities typically include church services, parades, and music. The church altar is decorated with huge crowns of wheat to represent the continuing seasons (Germangirlinamerica). Celebration in urban Germany begins with a church service including huge straw baskets on the altar filled with grain, fruits, and vegetables which are blessed and later given to the poor (Brightbhubeducation.com). Later in the day, the crowning of the harvest queen is followed by music, dancing, food, and in some cities a lantern and torch parade as well as fireworks shows (German-way.com). 

Citizens of Vietnam also enjoy a harvest celebration; theirs is known as Tet-Trung-Thu. Held on the 15th day of the eighth lunar cycle, always during the full moon, this holiday falls somewhere between the end of September and early October (Readersdigest.com). This year celebrated on September 21, the festival marks the “ascendancy of the moon over the sun in winter, the bounty of life, and prayers for the return of the sun’s warmth and light” (“Children and Youth in History”). During the celebration, children wear tiger masks and bang on drums to frighten away Ra Hu, the mythological creature thought to have eaten pieces of the moon, in the hope that he won’t eat the entire moon. Legend suggests that the festival was created by parents who worried that their children felt neglected by the amount of time parents spent working in the fields. “The festival was a way to show children they were loved and appreciated, complete with a candlelit procession at dawn in their honor” (Readersdigest.com).

However you celebrate, we wish you a happy, healthy, and bountiful Thanksgiving!

Almanac.com
Brighthubeducation.com
Children and Youth in History
German-way.com

Cool Weather Critter Conflicts

Cool Weather Critter Conflicts – image of a deer in a front yard

Cool Weather Critter Conflicts

As cooler weather prompts us, humans, to spend more time indoors, animals are also likely to be looking for protection from the elements. Unfortunately, conflicts with animals can be costly for homeowners. 

Large animals have been known to cause structural damage. Deer may shatter glass doors; bears will enter a home through a large window or screen door (DNR). Small animals can also cause big problems. Raccoons may enter an open garage door or a pet door and wreak havoc in your garage or home. 

Whether or not the damage is covered by your homeowner's insurance may depend on the type of animal causing the problems. Damage caused by raccoons, bats, opossums, and groundhogs is typically covered, while damage from squirrels, rats, and mice is not, as these are classified as rodents (Critter Control).

Damage caused by an animal not classified as a rodent may, thankfully, extend beyond the walls of your home. Your garage, deck, or porch will also likely be covered, and if a structure on your property is damaged that is not connected to your house, you may still be covered under “structures coverage” (Critter Control). Such structures may include a detached garage, shed, or fence (Critter Control). 

The best news is that if you have not yet experienced animal damage, there are steps you can take to prevent it from becoming your problem.  

  • Inspect your roof, porch, and basement regularly to look for openings. Cover and/or seal even tiny spaces or cracks (NPIC); any openings larger than one-fourth to one-half inch should be caulked.
  • “Use window screens, chimney caps, and draft guards beneath doors to attics, and flll electrical and plumbing holes with stainless steel wool or caulking” (these CDC recommendations are especially helpful for avoiding bats).
  • Keep tight-fitting lids on any garbage containers. Consider metal containers rather than plastic. 
  • Empty any food bowls you use to feed pets outside as soon as they are done eating and store pet food inside or in heavy containers (NPIC).
  • If bears live in your area, be aware that a bear’s sense of smell is seven times greater than that of a bloodhound and 2,100 times that of a human (NIEH). This may prompt you to put away food from an outdoor meal sooner than you otherwise would. You would also be wise to keep food stored and sealed away rather than left out on counters or tables near an open window or screen door.

If you are not sure what your homeowner’s policy or renter’s policy covers, or if you are interested in an update, give us a call at Waitte’s Insurance Agency. We would be happy to discuss policy options to fit your unique needs.

Center for Disease Control
Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
Critter Control
Department of Natural Resources
National Institute of Environmental Health
National Pesticide Information Center

It’s All About Location, Location, and Relocation

It’s All About Location, Location, and Relocation

The recent housing market boom, along with the switch to working remotely for much of the population, has led many of us to relocate. And while it’s a thrill to make a fresh start, there are also many things we have to be sure to take care of, especially when we cross state lines.

It’s important to cancel utilities for your old home and create accounts for your new one. These things are best done before the move, especially if you are heading to a new state, including electricity, gas, water, sewer, internet, cable TV, and garbage pickup (istorage.com). 

When going on vacation, most of us put our mail on hold. When moving, it is helpful to forward mail to your new location, and filling out the form entails a similar process to vacation holds. For more information about forwarding your mail, click on this link to U.S. Postal Service.

You also need to remember the activities you currently pay to participate in. Cancel (or transfer) your gym membership and any club memberships you may have. Be sure to look into this well before your move if possible, as some facilities may require you to pay to the end of the month or other cycle if you don’t give them enough advance notice. You should also check out opportunities for these activities in your new location to help you settle in and form new social networks (Moving.com).

If you have school-age children, you need to notify their current school and transfer their records to the new school. The kids’ new school may also ask for medical records, including immunizations. If you are planning ahead, consider asking what clubs or activities the new school offers to assist your children in forming new friendships and help them adjust (Moving.com). 

If you are moving to a new state, you will need to go to that state’s Department of Motor Vehicles for a new driver’s license. Check on requirements ahead of time, as your new state may require you to get your license within a set time frame after you move. You will also need to know what documents the new state expects you to provide, which may include your license from the state you are moving from, your social security card, proof of residency in your new state, and more (Moving.com).

In addition to the time limit for updating your driver’s license, you also may have a time limit to register your pet with your city or county. Ask around about local veterinarians so you know where you can go when your pet needs a checkup or if it gets sick or injured.

The health of your family members will certainly be as important as that of your pets, so you will want to plan on what health care facility and possibly specific doctors you will visit when you are in need. It may be worth asking your old doctor as well as new neighbors, new friends, and/or co-workers for suggestions. You could also check online resources such as the American Medical Association in your quest for health care providers (Moving reviews).

You will need to register your vehicle(s) and update your car insurance, including any recreational vehicles you own. Even if you stick with the same company, you may need to switch to a local agent. A new homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance policy will be in your near future as well. 

While you are updating your utilities, license, and insurance, you will benefit from updating your voter registration so you can participate in upcoming elections. Many states offer several ways to register, including in-person, mail-in, and online registration (Moving.com).

Once you arrive in your new home, it is a good idea to change the locks on your outside doors so nobody else can access your home, and check to be sure “doors and windows closed securely and cannot be opened from the outside” (Mymovingreviews).  

The staff at Waitte’s Insurance Agency wish you the best of luck with your moving adventure. Give us a call when you are ready to discuss your unique insurance needs.

Istorage.com
Moving.com
Mymovingreviews
U.S. Postal Service

Who needs renter’s insurance? You do!

Who needs renter’s insurance? You do!

What does renter’s insurance cover? While a landlord’s policy insures the building and covers any structural damage, their policy does not do much for tenants. Typically, renter’s insurance protects what is inside your home against fire, storm, or theft (Business Insider). While renter’s insurance is not required by law, it does provide peace of mind knowing that your belongings are covered, and it is often less inexpensive than people expect (Business Insider). 

Coverage of personal property is what most people think of when considering renter’s insurance. When purchasing renter’s insurance, you decide whether to select actual cash value or replacement cash value. Replacement cash value is more expensive than true cash value (because the value of your possessions depreciates over time) (MarketWatch).

Another advantage of renter’s insurance is liability coverage. If you are sued for accidental injury or property damage, liability coverage can pay medical damage and legal expenses (NerdWallet).

Suppose your rental unit is damaged to the extent that you have to relocate temporarily. In that case, your renter’s insurance will cover a portion of your hotel room and meals (Business Insider) which could otherwise be a catastrophic expense.

Many policies even provide coverage away from home if your items are stolen (NerdWallet).

Not only is renter’s insurance inexpensive for basic policies, but you may also find that if you bundle your renter’s insurance with your auto insurance, your rate increase may be negligible depending on your level of coverage. While specialty items such as expensive jewelry, cameras, artwork, bicycles, or musical instruments may require additional coverage (known as riders), you may be pleasantly surprised by how affordable it is to protect your belongings (Business Insider). 

Even if you think you don’t have much, take an inventory of each room in your home and ask yourself, What if I had to replace everything? You may realize that the value of your possessions is greater than you thought, and protecting yourself against the potential loss of it all is to your advantage. 

You may also want to consider renter’s insurance for your college student. With the cost of tuition these days, the peace of mind that comes with knowing your son or daughter has protection for their material possessions, as well as liability coverage, may make renter’s insurance a worthy investment.

Interested in finding out more about renter’s insurance? Give us a call at Waitte’s Insurance Agency to learn more about your options. 

Business Insider

MarketWatch

NerdWallet

Staying Safe Online

Stay safe online

Those of us who recall life before the internet are amazed when we stop and think about how much it has changed our world. To say that masses of information are now available to us is clearly an understatement. And sadly, misinformation is just as prevalent as reliable facts. Humans have a tendency to lean toward content that confirms rather than challenges our beliefs. And if something seems too good to be true, rather than giving us pause, we often take the bait. These tendencies, unfortunately, led to internet scams to the tune of three and a half billions of dollars in losses for Americans in 2019 (Statista). 

According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, the most frequently reported complaints in 2019 were “phishing and similar ploys, non-payment/non-delivery scams, and extortion.” So what is “phishing”? Phishing is when scammers commit identity theft by using fake emails, text messages, or websites that look identical to legitimate vendors. Phishing can also be used “to steal personal information including credit card and bank account numbers, debit card PINs, and account passwords” (USA.gov “Online Safety”). Scammers copy logos with such accuracy that it’s difficult or impossible to differentiate between them and an authentic company. They will ask you to click on a link in their email or to give them your bank account number, credit card number, or personal information to verify your account or confirm your identity. “They may even threaten to disable your account” if you do not quickly respond under the guise that they are looking out for your safety (USA.gov “Online Safety”). This should raise a red flag, as legitimate companies do not ask you for such information by email (USA.gov “Online Safety”). 

Phishing emails may also come from someone you know whose account has been hacked. This helps make the request seem legitimate. This type of phishing is also known as “pfishing” (“17 Common Online Scams”). 

Internet shopping scams are also easy to fall victim to. These scams involve a company that appears to be selling you something, takes your money, and likely even sends you a confirmation email, but they have no intention of sending you a product (“17 Common Online Scams”). Products on these sites often appear to be deeply discounted and therefore enticing. However, at best you will be out the money you spent. You stand to lose even more if you have provided credit card information which the company will then use to make further purchases (“17 Common Online Scams”).

Additional scams include the Nigerian scam, involving a seemingly desperate, possibly wealthy, individual looking for temporary aid with health issues or travel issues moving to this country (called so because a rash of these originally came from Nigeria, though now they come from a variety of countries); bitcoin and cryptocurrency scams offering the opportunity to make an initial investment in a (real or fictitious) company about to go up for an initial coin offering; digital kidnapping, in which one or more of your social media profiles is hacked, and the perpetrator demands money for you to resume access; dating and romance scams involving someone who at first seems exciting, fun, and engaging but soon asks you for money to help them with unexpected situations; and many more (“17 Common Online Scams”).

So how can we stay safe and still benefit from what the internet has to offer? There are a few steps we can take to avoid becoming victims of a scam.

  • First, if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Contact the company to verify an enticing offer. Go to their website to be sure it is the legitimate version rather than clicking through links provided on the offer you are viewing. 
  • If you are suspicious about a bill or account statement, access the company in a new tab rather than using a link provided, look for contact information, share your suspicions with a customer service representative, and ask if your account has been compromised (USA.gov “Online Safety”).
  • Utilize two-factor authentication which accesses an account or website online using your password or another piece of information such as a code or a random number generated by an app. According to USA.gov’s “Online Safety” article, “This protects your account even if your password has been stolen.”
  • Avoid clicking any links or attachments in questionable emails even if they state the company’s name and/or a legitimate-looking logo, as they may reroute you to a fake website (“Online Safety”).
  • If you are a victim of a phishing or other internet scam, contact the Federal Trade Commission (see link below). Victims of any fraudulent transactions can also report them to the FBI. This can help stop the transaction before the money is lost for good (FBI “Internet Crime Report”).

The internet has so much to offer and yet does pose risks if we are not careful. Here at Waitte’s Insurance Agency, we want our community members to thrive. We care about our community because we are part of the community. Give us a call when you are ready to discuss your unique insurance needs. 

"17 Common Online Scams"  

FBI "Internet Crime Report"

Federal Trade Commission

Forbes

Statista

USA.gov "Online Safety"

Poison in Your Home–What You Don’t Know Can Kill You

Female Toddler In Kitchen At Home

These days, it is easy to become overwhelmed by things beyond our control, especially when we want so badly to keep our loved ones safe. Although we don’t have the power to control everything, there are some things we can do to make a difference. 

According to the Center for Disease Control, unintentional injury is the third most common cause of death behind heart disease and cancer. Approximately 170,000 Americans die from unintentional injuries annually. Poisoning tops the list of the causes of these deaths (CDC). 

Unfortunately, so much of the danger is right in front of us in the form of household products. Laundry detergent, household cleaners, and pesticides all pose risks (NSC). Fortunately, the simple act of finding places to store these products well out of the reach of children can make a significant difference. It is also important to read labels and avoid mixing products.

Not all household dangers are visible. Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas found in homes that is produced by furnaces, stoves, fireplaces, portable generators, and other appliances (NSC). Thankfully, a modest investment in a carbon monoxide detector can help us battle this invisible foe. Just be sure to check your batteries regularly. Some people use annual events to help remind them, such as the time change from daylight savings in November.

Another invisible foe that merits our concern is radon, the “second-leading cause of lung cancer after cigarette smoking” (NSC). Radon can enter your home “through cracks in floors or walls, construction joints, or gaps in foundations around pipes, wires, or pumps” (American Cancer Society). Since radon is not something you can see or smell, the only way to know if the radon levels in your home are high is to test for it. (For test information, see the link below to “A Citizen’s Guide to Radon”).

A commonly overlooked adversary found in the home that can cause serious damage to children is the button battery. Button batteries are found in digital thermometers, remote controls, calculators, cameras, greeting cards, and many other unexpected items. While these batteries may look too small to be of concern, the danger they pose to children is significant. A button battery can be loged in a child’s throat or stomach and cause burns (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia). After several hours of exposure, the battery may destroy the child’s voice box or cause internal bleeding. While initial symptoms may be mild, including throat irritation or a cough, left untreated, the battery may cause “abdominal pain, chest pain, and shock” (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia).  This may result in permanent damage with the child no longer able to speak or eat through the mouth. Button battery ingestion has even led to death in some cases (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia). 

Household products, button batteries, and poisonous gasses are all worth taking steps to avoid. Yet there is one more concern worth mentioning. Drug overdose is sadly the most common cause of poisoning death. While it can be easy to dismiss this problem as something remote, the issue may be closer than we think. According to the National Safety Council, “in 2018, over 67,000 people died from drug overdoses.” The Texas Medical Center reports that by 2019, Americans were more likely to die from an accidental opioid overdose than a car crash. 

How does this happen? A basic answer comes from the NSC: “People who take prescribed opioids, even as directed, may build up a tolerance. When pain has subsided, some people find it easy to stop taking them and others find it harder to quit.” Sadly, 25% of Americans have been directly affected by opioid use and its accompanying tragedies. Americans either “know someone who has an opioid use disorder, know someone who has died from an overdose, or they have an opioid use disorder themselves” (NSC). If you or someone you know has a concern about opioid addiction, you can find help through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Look around your home for items and substances that might cause harm especially to children. Purchase and maintain smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, and have your home checked for radon. Be aware of what medicines you take and what risks accompany them. Keep the number for the National Poison Control Center next to your landline or in your cell phone contacts: 800-222-1222.

At Waitte’s Insurance Agency, we want you and your family to stay safe. We care about our community because we are part of the community. Give us a call when you are ready to discuss your unique insurance needs.

American Cancer Society
CDC Unintentional Injury Deaths
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
EPA "A Citizen's Guide to Radon"
National Safety Council
National Safety Council "Preventing Poisoning and Drug Overdoses"
National Safety Council "Addressing the Opioid Crisis"
SAMHSA
Texas Medical Center

Keeping Your Home Safe While on Vacation

Keeping your home safe while on vacation

Keeping Your Home Safe While on Vacation

Following months on lockdown that may have felt like years, many families are deciding it’s finally time to take a vacation. While there is plenty of focus on how to stay safe during the trip, it’s also a good idea to take steps before we depart to keep our homes safe.  

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, on average, one home is burglarized every 18 seconds in the United States. Burglaries occur most often during the summer months, and any evidence that your home is unoccupied will make it a more likely target. Before you take off, consider taking the following steps to keep your home safe.

  • Lock all windows and doors.
  • Have mail or package delivery stopped.  A stack of mail or a package on the doorstep is a clear giveaway that homeowners are absent.
  • Hire someone to mow your lawn or shovel your driveway. 
  • Tell a trusted neighbor what your plans are. If possible, ask the neighbor to bring in your garbage cans if they will be outside and to keep an eye out for anything suspicious.
  • Consider putting some indoor and outdoor lights on timer switches.  This helps make your home look occupied.  
  • Wait until you return to post pictures and stories about your trip on social media. Posts often circulate more widely than you intend.

While these steps will take a bit of time, they will help ensure that your trip is worry-free and relaxing. 

Enjoy the peace of mind that comes with planning ahead for your well-earned vacation.  Learn about more ways you can plan to protect your home and family by calling Waitte’s Insurance Agency where our staff can assist you with your unique insurance needs. Share our vacation tips with your family and friends, and be sure you, your family, and your friends are covered so we can all keep our community safe.

 

For further information, visit the following publication:

US Department of Justice "Crime Clock" article

Fire

Fire Fighter saves young girl

Every 24 seconds in the U.S., a fire department responds to a fire somewhere in our nation.* Are you prepared? In school, we are taught to stop, drop, and roll. The American Red Cross advises us to GET OUT, STAY OUT, and call 911. Planning ahead can make all the difference. Drills can save your life and the lives of your family members. Planning ahead also includes homeowners’ insurance to help you rebuild when the fire is over. Waitte’s Insurance can help you make that plan. 

 *National Fire Protection Association

A Safe Home is a Well Insured Home

Illustration of a smoke alarm sounding off in a smoky room

Many people contact us asking how to bring down their
homeowners’ insurance premiums. One of the quickest answers is to take steps to make your home safer. A safe home means a lower risk of the insurance company having to pay for home damage or other expenses, and leads to lower insurance rates in return. Each precaution you take can reduce your bill.

Install a smoke and carbon monoxide detector

As of 2014, it is illegal in the state of Connecticut to buy or sell any home without these detectors. Even if you don’t plan on moving, you still want your family to be warned in the event of a fire or carbon monoxide leak.

Install a pool barrier

By law, pools must be behind a fence, gate, or other enclosure so that they cannot be accessed from the outside. If you have small children or pets, keep them safe by also ensuring that there is a fence or other barrier between your exterior doors and the pool.

Insulate pipes near exterior walls

This prevents them from freezing even if the heat is turned off and protects you from costly water damage from a burst pipe. However, if you leave your home for vacation or other extended periods of time, don’t  rely on the insulation to protect your pipes alone. Rather than turning your furnace completely off, lower it to around 60 degrees.

Install a burglar alarm

Alarms provide an effective deterrent to burglars and also notifies the police of a break-in immediately, even if you’re away on vacation. Insurance discounts vary as you go from a simple, unmonitored alarm that just sounds when a window is open to a fully-monitored system with motion detectors and cameras.

Add storm shutters

Storm shutters protect your windows from debris caused from both winter storms and the rare tropical system that makes its way up the Atlantic coast. Because they protect you from window damage, wind damage and rain damage, the insurance rate discount can be substantial.

There are many steps to be taken in order to maintain a safe home. Of course Waitte’s Insurance is more than happy to assist you in lowering your premiums; but first and foremost, we wish for your home to be safe for you and your loved ones. For further information, contact Waitte’s Insurance Agency, Inc. today by clicking here.