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Driverless Car Update

  
  
  

Alexey Klementieu Fotolia

Our first Driverless Car blog, Driverless Cars - Big Safety Inatiative? appeared on February 9, 2014.  We thought an update was in order.

Google’s Self-Driving cars have now driven 700,000 miles accident free.  Since the average driver logs about 15,000 miles a year, Google’s mileage equates to about 47 years of safe driving.  Around the country, driverless cars are being tested in California, Florida, Nevada, Michigan, and Washington, D.C. 

In an intriguing article and Info-Graphic in State Tech Magazine, Nicole Blake Johnson has a short list of both the good and bad of converting to Self-Driving Cars.  Click here to view the article.  We’ve listed a few of their points here.

The Good

  1. Less time spent commuting.  Since driverless cars don’t have wrecks, you get to your destination without the delay of traffic jams.

  2. Space.  Road capacity is increased.  No traffic jams, more space for cars.

  3. Speed.  Because the traffic is flowing well, higher speed limits are possible.

The Bad

  1. Fewer Jobs.  Drivers are no longer need for taxis, buses, and freight transportation.

  2. Software.  How “safe” is the software?  Can it be hacked?  Could a driverless car be used in terrorist acts?

  3. Privacy.  Self-driving cars rely on collecting and sharing user locations.

What’s Next?

Speculation is running rampant from when the cars would actually be available; the answers range from 2017 – 2023 depending on the manufacturer; to the big question of who would be liable if the car did actually crash.  Mark Chalon Smith examined the interesting possibilities in his January 7, 2015 article 7 Bizarre Driverless Car Claims.  We selected our favorites to summarize here.

They may bankrupt copy budgets 

Police departments across the country, especially smaller ones, often depend on the income they gather from ticketing motorists. In fact, about 41 million people a year are hit with speeding tickets, with more than $6.2 billion in fines, according to statistics gathered by the U.S. Highway Patrol.  Eventually driverless cars will observe speed limits, detect and respond to traffic signals and essentially make tickets obsolete.

People will trick them out to be hotel suites on wheels

The Rand report also poses that once the fatigue of driving is erased from the equation, people may opt to travel farther - and with all the comforts of home. "Autonomous cars may shift users' preferences toward larger vehicles to permit other activities," says the report. "In theory, this could even include beds, showers, kitchens or offices."

People won't own cars anymore

Some industry watchers believe autonomous cars will provide a new model of transportation that will give people little incentive to own their own vehicle. "Under this 'Uber' like scenario, the same autonomous vehicle could be called upon for the morning commute by a number of individuals with laddered arrivals, while the vehicle could remain 'on duty' for errands during the day as needed by others," says Vincent DeAugustino in his Keefe, Bruyette & Woods analyst report.

Benefits of this futuristic model include more car-pooling, less traffic and emissions. "In our view, these are great societal benefits if Americans can stomach a new definition of car ownership and the freedom it affords," writes DeAugustino. "Urban Millennials are displaying some willingness to migrate away from this cultural American hallmark, so there's some viability to this thesis, which would significantly reduce the role of personal auto insurance."

Until Then…

We will be here to support you in your car insurance needs.  If you have questions are your policy, how much coverage you need, or want tips to save money on your insurance please call us. 

Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 35 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  Contact Us. 

Life Insurance - Unraveling the Choices

  
  
  

Ana Blazic Pavlovic

We know we need it.  Most of the time, we don’t want to talk about it.  It’s both boring and confusing at the same time.  We need help making an informed purchase and don’t know where to find it.  What are we talking about?  Life Insurance, of course.

Let’s start in the beginning with the “Why.”  Below is a great list of reasons for purchasing life insurance.  Take a moment to see how many of the reasons below are important to you and your family.

Why People Buy Life Insurance 

For the Death Benefit:

  • To replace earning power at death

  • To pay for cash needs that arise at death

As a Disciplined Savings Program*:

  • To help pay for educational costs

  • To supplement retirement income

  • To take advantage of business opportunities

  • For financial emergencies 

Because of the Risk of Waiting:

  • To replace earning power at death

  • To pay for cash needs that arise at death 

For the Tax Advantages:

  • Death proceeds are received free of income tax

  • Cash value accumulations are tax deferred

  • Cash value loans or withdrawals* are free of tax, as long as the policy stays in force

  • Accelerated death benefits are received free of income tax 

In Recognition of Personal Responsibility to:

  • Family

  • Banker

  • Mortgage company 

For the Flexibility:

  • Benefits may be available regardless of whether the policyowner lives, quits, dies or becomes disabled

  • Life insurance is portable; benefits are not lost due to job changes

* Withdrawals and loans will reduce the policy’s death benefit and cash value available for use

Now that you have made a list of all the really good reasons to buy life insurance, the next challenge is which policy to buy.  Your questions probably include:

  • How much coverage do I need?

  • How do I choose the right type of policy to meet my needs?

  • What about the length of term?

And those questions are just for starters.  Now is a great time to click here to see Dean and Draper’s web page describing your choices – Term Life, Whole Life, Universal Life, and Variable Universal Life.  Still sounds confusing?  Fill out the “Get a Quote” form.  We will carefully listen to your concerns and make sure you find the ideal policy for your situation.

Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 35 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  Contact Us.

 

 

2015 Best Cities for Job Searching

  
  
  
CAMUKXXR

Are you in job search mode or thinking about getting a better job as one of your New Year’s Resolutions?  According to usa.gov, you just listed resolution #5 in the most popular list.  2015 can be a great time to job hunt, depending on where you live.  According to the National Association for Business Economics, nonfarm employment will grow by nearly 220,000 jobs per month while unemployment will fall to 5.4 percent by the fourth quarter.  For the original NABE study, click here. 

We’ve always known that Texas is a great place to live and work.  In a new study, 2015 Best and Worst Cities to Find a Job, Wallethub looked at the top 150 most populated cities in the U.S.  The great news is that 16 Texas cities are listed in that top 150 in the country.  So, here’s the list of the best places in Texas to look for a job.  Want to see both the good and the bad?  Click here to view the complete study. 

Top Texas Cities for Job Hunting

Ready for the countdown?

Rank

City

133

Brownsville

117

El Paso

94

Laredo

78

San Antonio

57

Corpus Christi

47

Amarillo

46

Houston

45

Lubbock

40

Garland

37

Austin

30

Grand Prairie

29

Arlington

26

Dallas

16

Fort Worth

12

Irving

10

Plano

 Notable Texas Rankings

Lowest Unemployment Rate for High School Graduates

     

    1.  Laredo

    2.  Corpus Christi

      4.  Amarillo and Sioux Falls, SD tied for #4.

      Lowest Unemployment Rate for Bachelor Degree of Higher

      2.    Lubbock 2

      3.    Laredo; Oklahoma City, OK; and Peoria, AZ tied for #3.

      Highest Median Annual Income (Adjusted for Cost of Living)

      1. Plano

      Highest Housing Affordability

      1. Corpus Christi

      2. Plano

      And One Negative

      Only one city in Texas appeared in the lists on the down side of this study.  In the “Lowest Monthly Median Starting Salary”, Laredo come in at #148.

      Methodology

      To find the best and worst job markets in the U.S., WalletHub analyzed the 150 most populated cities across two key dimensions, namely “Job Market” and “Socioeconomic Environment.” We assigned a heavier weight to the former as these factors most heavily influence a job seeker’s decision in terms of relocation for employment. We then identified 16 metrics that are relevant to those dimensions.  To see the data set and the corresponding weight for each metric click here  

      What Does Job Hunting Have to Do With Insurance?

      Glad you asked.  Any time you are in transition – job transition, retirement, having a child, getting a divorce, or the death of a spouse – is a good time to review your coverage.  While it may not be at the top of your “To Do” list, we believe that taking about an hour to talk with us will be very valuable to you and your peace of mind.  We are only a phone call away.

      Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 35 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  Contact us. 

      Wondering What Can Cause Your Car Insurance Rates to Soar?

        
        
        
      © Christopher Dodge

      We’ve all wondered how insurance companies determine the rate we pay for car insurance.  Clearly the price you pay depends on lots of factors.  Here are 7 factors that you can actually impact.

      In her recent article, The 7 Deadly Sins of Car Insurance, Susan Ladika outlines the top 7 offenses that raise your car insurance.  To view the complete article, click here. 

      Driving under the influence

      Perhaps the deadliest sin of all when it comes to jacking up your auto insurance rates is a DUI conviction. You'll typically be considered a high-risk driver by your auto insurance company for between three and seven years if you have a DUI on your record.  According to a survey commissioned by Insurance.com, the average increase after a DUI is 82%.

      Driving recklessly

      While reckless driving laws vary from state to state, it generally means driving in "willful or wanton disregard" for the safety of people or property. Several states classify reckless driving that injures another person as a felony.  Being convicted of the charge is viewed as a big no-no by auto insurance companies.

      Having a bad driving record

       Start racking up the auto accidents or major moving violations, and you'll be propelled into the high-risk category.  If you have three tickets or accidents, or a combination of three tickets and accidents within three years, you'll typically be considered a high-risk driver, says Penny Gusner, consumer analyst at Insure.com.

      Being a serial offender

      If you don't behave behind the wheel, you'll be considered high-risk for years, with even minor infractions having a big impact on your rates.

      Failing to pay your insurance bill

      Compared to drunken driving, it may seem like a minor sin to skip paying your auto insurance bill and letting your policy lapse. But it will cost you big with your car insurance company.  By going without auto insurance, you'll have to pay nonstandard rates when you take out a new policy.

      Having a crummy credit score

      It may seem totally irrelevant in terms of your driving, but auto insurers generally look at your credit when it comes time to set your rates. Research has found that drivers with lower credit-based insurance scores tend to file more claims than those who have great credit scores.

      Driving the wrong kind of car

      Auto insurance is less about your car than the person behind the wheel.  For example, if people who drive a certain model of car file claims more frequently, then everyone who buys that car pays more.

      And lest anyone forget: Adding a teenage driver

      Adding a newly licensed teen to your car insurance policy can cost you more than even a DUI.  A teenage driver is 12 times more likely to crash in the first month of driving than he or she is just a year later. 

      Insurance companies cover that added risk by raising premiums – a lot. Boys cost a lot more, at least in the first few years of driving. Adding a 16-year-old male to your policy increases rates, on average, by 176 percent, while a teen female increases them by 129 percent.

      Moving forward

      At Dean & Draper we suggest that you shop your auto insurance when your policy is about to renew.  You could learn that the speeding ticket you received is no longer considered by your insurer in determining your rates, or that your credit has improved, or simply that another insurance company sees you as a better risk.

      We welcome the opportunity to review your current insurance policies, discuss your insurance needs, and provide you with recommendations on selecting the policies provide the best coverage for the best price.  Please feel free to contact us.

      Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 34 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  Contact Us. 

      2014 Blog Topics in Review

        
        
        

      This year our blog covered a wide range of topics from tech news and cyber alerts to improving your health and insurance tips.  We hope that you have enjoyed the Dean & Draper Blog and invite you to comment or send ideas for blog subjects. 

      Here are our favorite blogs from 2014:

      Cyber Liability Insurance.  Cyber liability insurance has been around for describe the imageclose to a decade now and unfortunately remains one of the least utilized forms of business insurance.  Policy premiums are primarily could be considered a high risk for data breach.  Medical-related institutions and business hosting data such as date of birth and social security numbers are also higher risk. Click here to see the blog.

      describe the imageDriverless Cars – Big Safety Initiative?  What if you could sit in the driver’s seat and cruise down the road without a single thought about actually driving the car?  Just maybe taking people out of the driving equation could be the biggest safety initiative in history.  Check out the driverless car concept, click here.

      Distracted Driving – More Dangerous Than Drunk Driving.  Texting while describe the imagedriving a vehicle has now replaced drinking while driving as the leading cause of accidents and deaths of teenage drivers.  For the facts and figures, click here. 

      describe the imageKeeping Your Employees Safe.  If you are a small business owner, you have a host of things to worry about.  In a recent survey of 502 businesses with 100 employees by insurance specialist Employers®, small business owners listed workplace safety as their biggest worry (35%) followed by professional liability (26%) and cyber security risks (25%).  For some great ideas on making your business a safe place to work, click here.

      On the Road Again.  Before you hit the road on that vacation, check out our 6 tips for getting you and the car ready.  Click here. 

      Houston Tops Road Rage Survey.  Houston has the dubious honor of describe the imagehaving the least courteous drivers in the country followed by Atlanta; Baltimore; Washington, D.C.; and Boston. Houston moved up from 8th discourteous city in the 2009 AutoVantage survey to the top position in 2014.  To see the results of the survey, click here.

      describe the imageRental Car Insurance Coverage.  There you are standing at the car rental counter in the airport.  There’s the big question on the form – to buy or not to buy the rental car insurance.  For some great tips on making the choice, click here.

      Nanotechnology in Every Part of Our Daily Lives.  Today nanoparticles aredescribe the image a huge boon to the food industry.  When placed in packaging, nano-technology extends the shelf life of food.  Detecting e coli and other food born bacteria is the domain of another nanotech particle.  And yes, adding nanoparticles to packaging can make them biodegradable.  And this is on the beginning.  To read the blog, click here.

      describe the imageDust Off That Disaster Recovery Plan.  Six years ago Hurricane Ike made landfall on Galveston Island in the early hours of Saturday, September 13, 2008.  When the storm subsided, 2.15 million of the 2.26 million CenterPoint customers were without electricity and the greater Houston area came to a standstill.  For ideas to update your Disaster Recovery Plan or even write one, click here.

      Health Alert – Ebola Virus in Texas.  With Ebola patients just up the road describe the imagein Dallas, we’re all a bit jumpy about the disease.  To read more about plans to treat the victims, symptoms and cautions about the virus, and treating Ebola in Africa, click here.

      describe the imageInsurance Myths – Houses, Red Cars, and Big Crashes.  The top 3 Myths on our list are: #1: "I should buy insurance coverage for my house based on its real estate market value."  #2: "Red cars cost more to insure."  #3: "If I cause a crash with extensive damage to others, my auto insurance company can cancel me immediately."  For the whole list and the truth about the myths, click here. 

      10 Ideas to Reduce Holiday Stress.  During the holiday season rudeness seems describe the imageto rule the day and shopping feels like going to war.  In an effort to improve everyone’s Holiday experience, we have 10 great tips for reducing your Holiday stress and embracing the season.  Click here to view the blog post.

      We wish you a happy, prosperous, and exciting New Year.  We also encourage you to drink responsibly or to be a designated driver this New Year’s Eve. 

      Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 34 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients. Contact Us. 

      December Celebrations – American Melting Pot

        
        
        
      © Jose Ignacio Soto - Fotolia

      America has long been synonymous with religious freedom.   This diversity is clearly demonstrated by the array of spiritually significant celebrations around our country in December.  Nancy Haught and our friends at Huffington Post compiled a great list.

      December 6, the Feast of St. Nicholas. Some Christians revere the fourth-century bishop of Myra, a Greek province in Asia Minor. His reputation for piety may have inspired the legend of Santa Claus. The tradition of leaving gifts for children on St. Nicholas Day began in the Low Countries and spread to North America with Dutch immigrants.

      December 8, Bodhi Day. Buddhists recall that Siddhartha Gautama vowed to sit under a tree in what is now Bodhgaya, India, and not to rise until he was enlightened. The title Buddha means "awakened one."

      Roman Catholics observe this day as the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, believing that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was born without sin.

      December 12, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Observed by Catholics, especially those of Hispanic descent, the story of Guadalupe recounts a 16th-century apparition of Mary to Juan Diego, a poor Indian, on a hillside near what is now Mexico City.

      December 17 - 24, the Jewish festival of Hanukkah begins at sunset on this date and continues for seven more nights. It is a remembrance of an effort to restore the Temple in Jerusalem after a period of desecration. Faithful Jews found only enough oil to light the temple lamp for one day, but the flame burned for eight.

      December 21, Yalda, the Zoroastrian celebration of the winter solstice.  Yule or winter solstice, the shortest day in the Northern Hemisphere. Juul, a pre-Christian festival observed in Scandinavia, featured fires lit to symbolize the heat, light and life-giving properties of the returning sun. Wiccans and other pagan groups celebrate Yule.

      December 25, Christmas, observed by Christians since the Middle Ages as the birth of Jesus. Some Orthodox Christians follow a different calendar, and Christmas may fall on a different date.

      December 26, Zoroastrians observe the death of the prophet Zarathushtra, known in the West as Zoroaster. Tradition says he lived in what is now Iran in about 1200 B.C. His teachings include the idea of one eternal God; seven powerful creations: sky, water, earth, plants, animals, humans and fire; and that life is a struggle between good and evil.

      December 26 is also the starting date for Kwanzaa, a weeklong, modern African-American and pan-African celebration of family, community and culture. For some people who keep Kwanzaa, the festival has spiritual overtones in its emphasis on imani, Swahili for "faith."

      We wish you and yours the warmth and wonder of the season.  May 2015 be a year of prosperity, joy, kindness, and peace.

      Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 34 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  Contact Us.  

      11 Days Until Christmas Shopping Plan

        
        
        
      © Alliance

      Procrastinators unite!  It’s almost time for you to hit the stores, racing around like crazy people, and panicking over finding a great gift.  Just because you’re a procrastinator doesn’t exclude your opportunity to be an organized shopper.  So, our friends at Real Simple Magazine have provided a One-Day Holiday and Christmas Shopping Plan.  We’re giving you an edited version of their plan.  For the whole article, click here.

      8:00 AM

      Fuel up. It’s hard to shop sensibly when your blood sugar is crashing, so skip the bagels, the donuts, and the sugary breakfast cereals.

      Don’t dress just for comfort. When people are feeling insecure, they tend to buy more.  Opt for something stylish, like cute flats or an on-trend top, that boosts your self-confidence.  Guys, nice slacks and a great sweater will work wonders in those stores.

      Download an upbeat playlist. Outsmart the shops blasting “Jingle Bell Rock” by donning your earbuds and listening to songs with a beat faster than your resting heart rate, which is, on average, about 70 beats a minute. Those tunes will keep you moving quickly and efficiently through the stores.

      Get dibs on discounts. Before you leave the house, download the free apps offered by your favorite retailers or check out their websites for announcements, coupons, and the latest information on sales. Smartphone users can use the no-cost app ScanLife to scan a product’s barcode and find out which local or online establishment has the best price.

      Head out solo. So just say no to a shopping companion today. You can share deals with friends by using the free My Shopping Circle app, which notifies them about sales you see (and vice versa).

      9:30 AM

      Stop at the bank… Curb impulse buys by leaving your credit cards at home.  Go to a teller so you can request larger bills, such as 50s or 100s. You will be less likely to break them on unnecessary purchases.

      …Then hit the mall. Since the main entrance may have a lavish display enticing you to spend, come in through a side door or the food-court entrance.

      Buy less expensive stuff first. And here’s why: Once you shell out for something costly, your brain loses perspective on what’s a good price.  

      1:00 PM

      Eat lunch. Recharge by choosing a protein-rich salad with chicken or a turkey-avocado wrap. (Carbohydrate-laden picks, like pizza and fries, will make you want to nap.)

      2:00 PM

      Perk yourself up. A few hours trolling the mall can get anyone down.  So treat yourself to an inexpensive manicure at a salon or a free chair massage at Brookstone.

      Skip lines. When possible, pay for your purchases in less crowded areas of the store, like the men’s-underwear or home-furnishings department.

      Steer clear of attractive salespeople. You’re more likely to buy something from a sales associate who is easy on the eyes.

      Get in, get out. The longer you listen to a sales pitch, the more likely you are to hand over the cash.

      6:00 PM

      Multitask at dinner. Meet your spouse or friends for dinner at a restaurant that offers gift-card freebies, like T.G.I. Friday’s. At that chain, you can buy your college-age son or a friend a $50 gift card for the holidays and get a $10 credit to apply toward your dinner then and there.

      8:00 PM

      Back at home, search for discount codes. Look for your favorite e-tailers at freeshipping.org, retailmenot.com, and couponcabin.com to see if free shipping or other discounts are available. Or simply shop the clothing-and-accessories sites zappos.com and piperlime.gap.com —they never charge for domestic shipping.

      Cash in your rewards. Assess which credit-card partnerships and rewards programs you are eligible for. Consider using points to buy gift cards or make online purchases through the card’s rewards site.

      Buy toys online. Instead of scouring the often ransacked shelves of big-box retailers, such as Target and Toys“R”Us, head to their websites. Bonus: At this time of year, you can often land free shipping with a purchase over a certain amount.

      Be a little sneaky. “Just as you’re about to finalize an online purchase, cancel the order.  If you’ve previously shopped the site, the merchant should have your e-mail address, and you may get a message within minutes touting a discount code. Or contact a site’s live-chat associate and ask for a discount.

      All done! Now kick back with a glass of your favorite something.

      We wish you and yours a fabulous and happy Holiday season.

      Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 34 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  Contact Us.  

      10 Ideas to Reduce Holiday Stress

        
        
        
      Christmas stress © mario beauregard – Fotolia

      All of us would like for the Holidays to mean gracious, thoughtful interactions with everyone we meet.  Drivers would welcome the opportunity to allow others to seamlessly merge into freeway lanes, pull out of the crowded parking lot onto the even more crowded street in front of them, or invite you to take the open parking place.  Shoppers would be pleasant in the checkout lines and ask you to please go first with your 5 items.  What a wonderful world it would be.

      Instead, driving during the Holiday season is much like amateur hour.  No one seems to know where they’re going or how to get there.  Each person’s individual need is certainly greater than anyone around them.  Rudeness rules the day and shopping feels like going to war.  In an effort to improve everyone’s Holiday experience, we have 10 great tips for reducing your Holiday stress and embracing the season.

      1. Change Your Mindset

      Of course, the holidays are a special time of year meant to celebrate friends and family, yet we're not talking about a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence here. Christmas may come but once a year, and it comes every single year without fail. Remember, there’s always next year to make that dessert, add more decorations, or buy that one more present.  Perfection isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

      2. Practice the Power of No

      The word no is extremely powerful and liberating. Yes, it's tempting to say yes to every invitation and every opportunity to volunteer during the holidays. You'll enjoy the parties and other events more if you pick and choose the ones that are closest to your heart. There's no need to lie or to explain why you can't participate. Simply say, "I'm sorry. I already have plans for that time."  Those plans could be to workout, have a quiet meal at home, wrap presents, or go looking at Christmas lights.  You certainly don’t have to explain your plans.

      3. Simplify Your Celebration

      Holiday traditions are wonderful and help create lasting family memories, and there's no reason why you can't choose to create new traditions that better fit your current lifestyle. Your family could surprise you and hardly notice the changes – a few less decorations, a couple of varieties of cookies instead of 10 or 12 recipes, or a pot luck style meal with everyone contributing a dish and sharing the cooking chore.  Instead of multiple gifts for each person, possibly the adults in the family draw names to create a smaller gift exchange and save other gift giving for children?

      4. Focus on Others

      Instead of getting wrapped up in gift giving, baking and other holiday obligations, find a way to give back to your community this year. You might choose to volunteer at a toy drive for underprivileged children or help out at a local food bank. Instead of fighting crowds at the mall, you could be doing good for others and for yourself.

      5. Choose a Charity Gift

      Another great way to avoid the mall or hours of online shopping is to donate to a charity.  Then give a small gift – possibly cookies, candy, or a lovely card – and include information about the charity to your family and friends. 

      6. Don't Skip Your Regular Workouts

      It's easy to find extra time in your schedule by cutting back on gym visits or afternoon walks.  Since exercise is such an effective form of stress relief, all you'll be buying yourself is exhaustion and added worry.  For ideas on stress reducing exercises from WedMD, click here.

      7. Boost Your Immune System

      There's nothing more stressful during the holidays than coming down with a cold or the flu. To protect yourself during the holiday season, make sure you're getting ample fruit and vegetables in your diet, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep and washing your hands regularly. And get a flu shot to protect you from the most common strains of the flu virus.  For more tips on strengthening your immune system, click here.

      8. Stretch

      Ever notice how dogs, cats and other animals stretch throughout the day? They do it for the same reasons we do—it just feels good! Starting or finishing your day with some light stretches can help you de-stress and relax when you need it most. At work, you can try some neck, arm and chest stretches, too. The Mayo Clinic has some great suggestions for stretching right at your desk.  Click here. 

      9. Grin and Bear It

      Smiling, even when you don't feel happy, can instantly lift your mood. Instead of frowning, clenching your jaw, or tensing up your forehead in reaction to a stressor, grin and feel your troubles melt away. Try it now! 

      10. Visualize

      Even if you can't escape from your stressful life, you can escape through the magic of your mind. Right now, close your eyes and imagine the world's most perfect, serene place. It can be waves crashing on the beach, rolling hills, or even a familiar childhood room. Note how safe, secure and relaxed you feel by picturing this place. Whenever you need a short escape, you can always return there in your mind. 

      At Dean & Draper, we want to reduce your stress about your insurance coverage .  As always, we are here to answer your insurance questions, review your coverage, and at your request make recommendations to meet your insurance needs. 

      Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 34 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  Contact Us.

      Holiday Home Safety Tips

        
        
        
      Fotolia 58507584 XS

      We’re all about to shake off all the indulgent Thanksgiving food and football daze and pull out the holiday decorations.  Before you start string those lights up, lighting the candles, and hanging the tinsel we have a few tips for keeping your family safe during the this season.  Taking a few minutes now could mean a safe, happy holiday celebration.

      According to a study published by the National Fire Protection Association, 4 of every 5 Christmas tree fires occurred in December and January. Of the 10 days with the largest shares of Christmas tree fires, none were before Christmas.

      • Electrical problems were factors in one-third (32%) of home Christmas tree structure fires.
      • 12% of home Christmas tree fires involved decorative lights.
      • Candles started 7% of home Christmas tree structure fires.
      • 2 of every 5 (39%) home Christmas tree fires started in the living room, family room, or den.

      Basics

      First, there are a few basics that need to handled before those decorations come out of the attic.

      • Make sure your fire alarm is working properly.  Test the alarm and check the batteries.
      • Have at least one carbon monoxide detector in your home.
      • Make sure your fire extinguisher is handy.

      Trees

      If you love having a fresh tree, make sure it’s really fresh.  Before buying a live Christmas tree, conduct a three-part stress test, recommends Stacey Palosky, a spokesperson with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.  A fresh tree has needles that resist being pulled off and do not snap when bent, a trunk bottom that's sticky with resin, and strong limbs that will drop just a few needles if shaken.

      • Place tree away from fireplaces, radiators and other heat sources. Heated rooms dry trees out rapidly, creating fire hazards.
      • Cut off about two inches of the trunk to expose fresh wood for better water absorption. Trim away branches as necessary to set tree trunk in the base of a sturdy, water-holding stand with wide spread feet.
      • Keep the stand filled with water while the tree is indoors.

      That real looking artificial tree is your choice?  Be sure that the box says fire retardant before you buy.

      Lights

      What would the holiday be without loads and loads of lights?  While you’re untangling those lights here are a few things to check.

      • Use only lights that have been tested by nationally-recognized laboratories such as UL. decorative indoor and outdoor lights must meet strict requirements.  UL's red holographic label signifies that the light decorations meet safety requirements for indoor and outdoor usage.  UL's green holographic label signifies the lights are safe for indoor use only.
      • Check outdoor lights for labels showing that the lights have been certified for outdoor use, and only plug them into a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI)-protected receptacle or a portable GFCI.
      • Look at each set of lights for damage.  Discard decorative light sets with broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections.

      Candles

      The soft glow if candles is almost required during the holidays.  Before you set out enough candles to blaze a path for Santa's sleigh, here are some things to consider.

      • Keep buring candles in sight.  Extinguish all candles before you go to bed, leave the room, or leave the house.
      • Put burning candles on a heat resistant, stable surface.  Chose a place where Kids and pets cannot reach or knock over burning candles.  Lit candles should also be placed away from flammable items - trees, decorations, surtains, and furniture.   

      Fireplaces 

      A cozy, mesmerizing fire is just the ticket for the holiday.  Let’s be safe with the fire, too.

      Before lighting any fire, remove all greens, boughs, papers, and other decorations from fireplace area.

      • Check to see that flue is open.
      • Keep a screen before the fireplace all the time a fire is burning.
      • Use care with “fire salts” which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals which can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation or vomiting if eaten. Keep away from children.

      Children & Pets

      During the holidays, just about everything is intriguing to children and pets.  Doing some child and pet proofing will save everyone some grief during this season.

      • Keep wires, batteries and glass or plastic ornaments out of paws' reach. A wire can deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock and a punctured battery can cause burns to the mouth and esophagus, while shards of breakable ornaments can damage if chewed or swallowed.
      • Seasonal plants can also cause intestinal upset for both children and pets.  Avoid decorating with holly berries, mistletoe, and varieties of lilies.  Accoring to Michael Wahl, M.D. and Medical Director of the Illinois Poison Center, Poinsettias are not poisonous. 

      “That's not to say they're harmless. If a child eats enough poinsettia leaves (say five), he may become nauseated or throw up. But he's not going to die. And he's probably not going to eat more than one or two bites in the first place because the leaves are ‘reported to have an unpleasant taste,’ Wahl says.”

      We wish you and yours holidays filled with the warmth and wonder of the season.  As always, if you have questions about your insurance coverage, adding policies, or would like to have your policies reviewed we are here for you.

      Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 34 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  Contact Us

      Thanksgiving Trivia Quiz

        
        
        
      © Jeanne Provost

      Thanksgiving, that all American holiday is a few days away.  We thought a few trivia questions would be appropriate to spice up your meal.  The answers are below – no peeking!

      1. When was the first Thanksgiving celebration?  1492, 1567, 1621, 1777
      2. What great American statesman lobbied to make the turkey the national symbol?

        Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Andrew Jackson

      3. What sound does a female turkey make?

        Gobble, cluck, chirp, peep

      4. What sound does a male turkey make?

        Gobble, cluck, chirp, peep

      5. The dangling skin under a turkey's neck is called?

        Wattle, Weedle, Wuddle, Widdle

      6. Back in the early Thanksgiving celebrations, they also liked sporting events and took bets. Of course it wasn't football back then. Which sport was it?

        Shooting, Archery, Knife Throwing

      7. Approximately what percentage of American homes eats turkey on Thanksgiving?  

        49%, 67%, 82%, 90%

      8. What Native American tribe celebrated the first Thanksgiving with the colonists?
        Wampanoag, Sioux, Choctaw, Arapaho

      9. Who was their chief?

        Massasoit, Pemaquid, Samoset, Squanto

      10. Thanksgiving is celebrated only in the United States.
        True or False?
      11. The first department store to hold a Thanksgiving parade was:

        Montgomery Wards, J. C Penney’s. Gimbels, Macy’s, none of the above

      12. In what year did the first Macy's Thanksgiving parade take place?

        1864, 1894, 1904, 1924

      13. Which balloon was the first balloon in the 1927 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade:

        Mickey Mouse, Felix the Cat, Betty Boop, Superman

      14. Thanksgiving became a national holiday thanks to this woman who was an editor of a woman's magazine called "The Godey's Lady's Book":

        Sarah Hale, Sarah Parker, Sarah Bradford, Sarah Standish

      15. Which President was the first to establish Thanksgiving as a legal national holiday to be held the 4th Thursday in November?

        Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison

      16. Every year the President of the US pardons a turkey and it goes to a public farm called Frying Pan Park, Herndon, VA.  Which president is believed to be the first to pardon a turkey and start this annual tradition?

        Andrew Jackson, Millard Fillmore, Harry Truman, Warren Harding

      17. The first meal eaten on the moon by astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldren was a roasted turkey dinner with all the trimmings.  True or False?

      18. Before being harvested and sold, an individual cranberry must bounce at least how many inches high to make sure they aren't too ripe?

        1 inch, 2 inches, 3 inches, 4 inches

      19. Cranberries are native to North America. Which of the following fruits are also native to North America?

        Blueberries, Concord Grapes, Both

      20. In 1943, Norman Rockwell created his famous "Freedom From Want" illustration by using a Thanksgiving dinner as an example of this.  This illustration first appeared on which magazine?

        McCalls, Saturday Evening Post, Life

      We hope you have some fun with our Thanksgiving Trivia.  We also wish you a warm and wonderful holiday.  Enjoy each other, eat well, and create some wonderful memories.  At Dean & Draper, we are grateful for our clients, friends, and families.

      Dean & Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 34 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients.  Contact Us.

      Thanksgiving Trivia Answers

      1. 1621; 2. Benjamin Franklin; 3. Cluck, 4. Gobble; 5. Wattle; 6. Shooting; 7. 90%; 8. Wampamoag; 9. Massasiot; 10. False, Canada celebrates Thanksgiving, too; 11. Gimbels in 1920; 12. 1924; 13. Felix the Cat; 14. Sarah Hale; 15. Franklin D. Roosevelt; 16. Harry Truman in 1947; 17. True; 18. 4 inches; 19. Both; 20. Saturday Evening Post.

       


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