Author Archives: Jean Pollard

Holiday Decorating Safety Tips

With the holiday season approaching, I know many of us are starting to think about decorating our homes. This is often a fun experience for family members of all ages, but I do want to urge caution, as decoration-related injuries are unfortunately fairly common.

The good news is that you can reduce the risk of injury and stay focused on the true joys of the season by taking precautions and keeping safety considerations top of mind. Here are a few such hazards to consider: 

  • According to the National Fire Protection Associationone-third of home decoration fires are caused by candles, and two out of every five decoration fires result from placing decorations too close to heat sources. As you decorate, be sure to keep candles away from anything flammable and out of reach from children. It’s also a good idea to double-check that smoke alarms and fire extinguishers have fresh batteries and work correctly in case a fire does break out.
  • As you decorate your home, avoid overloading electrical outlets with too many decorations. If you notice lights flickering or dimming or hear a buzzing noise coming from your outlet, you may have overloaded the circuit. It’s best to use surge protectors and power strips to distribute the load safely and regularly check cords and plugs for any signs of wear or damage.
  • A common injury we see during the holidays is people falling off of ladders. When hanging decorations or stringing lights, make sure you have the right sized ladder for the job and avoid getting on a ladder if you’ve been drinking. A safety “rule of thumb” is to make sure to always maintain three points of contact while climbing a ladder.
  • If you have young children or pets, consider their safety when selecting decorations. Opt for non-breakable and child/pet-friendly decorations to prevent accidents and potential injuries. Be mindful of anything that could be a choking hazard or, worse, poisonous.

I hope these are helpful for you as you start to prepare your home for the holidays. As always, if you have any questions or need anything during the holidays, I’m just a call away. Enjoy your holiday season.

Winterizing your Vehicle for Colder Temperatures

With the arrival of winter, I wanted to remind you about the importance of winterizing your vehicle for the upcoming colder months.

As you know, winter weather presents numerous challenges on the road, like icy conditions and reduced visibility. Properly preparing your vehicle can help ensure your safety and minimize the risk of accidents or breakdowns.

Here are a few tips to help you to do just that: 

  • Fill up your tires. As the temperature drops outside, so does the tire inflation pressure. That’s why you should check your tire pressure more regularly in the winter months and ensure each tire is filled to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation (which you can find in your owner’s manual). 
  • Have your battery tested. Cold weather can strain your vehicle’s battery. In fact, when temperatures go below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, car batteries lose 35% of their strength. With that in mind,  it’s crucial to have your battery tested before winter weather or temps hit to ensure it’s in good condition.
  • Replace windshield wipers and washer fluid. Windshield wipers are essential to your safety if you happen to be caught in icy conditions. You may want to consider temporarily installing winter wipers, which can better handle ice or snow. At the minimum, however, replace any worn windshield wipers, and make sure your windshield washer fluid is at appropriate levels.
  • Make an emergency kit for your car. It’s always good to have all the essentials in your vehicle in case of a breakdown or emergency. Supplies you may want to stock your car with include:
    • Ice scraper
    • Jumper cables
    • Flashlight
    • Blanket
    • Cell phone charger

I hope these tips are a helpful safety reminder this winter. You can visit the United States Department of Transportation website for more winter weather driving tips. And if you have questions or concerns about your auto coverage or other insurance needs, don’t hesitate to reach out. 

Stay safe.

Winter Prep Tips for Homeowners

As colder weather arrives, so do certain winter-related home issues. With that in mind, I wanted to reach out with a few helpful prep tips to ensure your home remains warm, cozy, and well-protected from the cold weather this winter:

  1. Consider weatherstripping and insulation – Cold air can easily seep into your home through gaps and cracks around windows and doors, making your home chilly and driving up your energy bills. Inspect these areas and consider applying weatherstripping or caulking to seal any openings. Lowes has a great DIY guide to follow if you need instruction.
  2. Use window sheet kits – If your windows lack double-panel or storm windows, consider using plastic-film sheet kits available at your nearby hardware store. While these kits are designed for a single season’s use, they can significantly enhance energy efficiency and effectively block cold winter drafts without having to install completely new windows.
  3. Clean gutters and downspouts – Thoroughly clear any debris, leaves, or twigs from your gutters and downspouts. Clogged gutters can prevent drainage, damaging your roof and causing severe leaks. 
  4. Winterize outdoor faucets – Disconnect all hoses or devices connected to outdoor spigots and drain any water left behind in the pipes. If you have in-ground sprinkler systems, have them blown out to remove any water. Remember to turn off the water supply to the outdoor spigots to prevent pipe damage in the event your pipes freeze.
  5. Evaluate home security  Winter nights provide longer periods of darkness, making it important to ensure your home is secure. Test outdoor lights and replace bulbs as needed. Consider installing motion-sensor lights to deter potential intruders. It’s also advisable to have a reliable home security system in place.
  6. Get wood-burning fireplaces and chimneys inspected – Doing so can prevent chimney fires, which account for over 20,000 residential fires every year. A clogged chimney or flue also increases your chances of carbon monoxide poisoning. You can find a certified chimney sweep here

Hope this is a helpful reminder as we approach the coldest months of the year. Feel free to forward this on to friends and family. And, as always, if any questions or needs arise this winter, please don’t hesitate to reach out. That’s what I’m here for!

Winter Prep Tips for Business Owners

As colder weather approaches, we tend to see an increase in property concerns from our clients. With that in mind, I wanted to reach out with a few helpful tips to ensure your space remains safe, functional, and well-prepared for the challenges of winter.

  1. Ensure proper insulation: Check for any drafts or cold spots inside your space, and consider applying weatherstripping or caulking to seal any openings. Insulate around windows and doors to prevent heat loss, maintain a comfortable working environment, and save on energy costs.
  2. Keep pathways clear: Regularly clear snow and ice from entrances, parking lots, and walkways to prevent slips and falls. Use salt or ice melt to ensure safe passage for employees and visitors.
  3. Schedule a roof and gutter inspection: Have your roof inspected for any signs of damage or potential leaks. Ensure gutters and downspouts are clear of debris to prevent ice dams and water accumulation, which can cause damage to your property.
  4. Make an emergency preparedness plan: Review your emergency procedures with staff and ensure they are well-prepared for potential winter-related incidents, such as power outages or severe weather conditions. Stock essential supplies like flashlights, batteries, first aid kits, and non-perishable food items.
  5. Winterize your plumbing systems: Prevent frozen pipes by insulating exposed pipes and providing adequate heating in vulnerable areas. Identify any areas where pipes may be at risk and take necessary precautions. Have a trusted plumber inspect your plumbing systems to identify and address potential issues before they escalate.

As always, reach out with any questions. Wishing you a successful and worry-free winter season for your business!

Getting Prepared for Tropical Storm Ida

FEMA Urges Mid-Atlantic Residents to Prepare for Tropical Depression Ida 
Today, FEMA urged Mid-Atlantic residents to prepare for flooding in the coming days as a result of Tropical Depression Ida. While certain areas will see higher amounts than others, FEMA warns that considerable flash and river flooding will be possible across FEMA Region 3, including parts of Virginia. Individuals should prioritize completing final preparations for flooding and monitor local news for updates and directions provided by local officials. Additionally, Governor Northam declared a state of emergency in Virginia in response to Tropical Depression Ida. This will allow the Commonwealth of Virginia to mobilize resources and to deploy people and equipment to assist in response and recovery efforts.
    To keep yourself safe during flooding:  Stay off the roads: Emergency workers will be assisting people in flooded areas. Check on neighbors who may require assistance if it is safe to do so. This includes individuals with infants, children as well as older adults, people with disabilities and others who may need help. Don’t drive through flood waters: Almost half of all flash flood deaths happen in vehicles. When in your car, look out for flooding in low lying areas at bridges and at highway dips. As little as 6 inches of water may cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Be aware of areas where flood waters have receded. Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car. Stay out of floodwater. Standing water may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines or contain hazards such as human and animal waste, dangerous debris, contaminants that can lead to illness, or wild or stray animals.
To keep yourself safe post-storm:  If you need to evacuate post-storm, be extremely careful driving as roads may be damaged or blocked. If you go  to a community or group shelter, remember to follow the latest recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for protecting yourself and family from COVID-19.
FEMA is prepared and activated  to respond to disasters in states in a COVID-19 environment and is well-positioned to handle this upcoming storm despite the Delta surge. Check local media for a list of shelters, including those who can accommodate pets. If you are staying in a hotel, please call before you go and ask if pets are permitted. If you are in the path of Ida as it moves inland, gather supplies. Have enough supplies for your household. Include medication, disinfectant supplies, pet supplies and a battery-operated radio with extra batteries. If your home has flood water inside or around it, don’t walk or wade in it. The water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline, or raw sewage. Never attempt to turn off power or operate circuit breakers while standing in water. Be careful when cleaning up. Wear protective clothing, including a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, work gloves and sturdy thick-soled shoes. Do not try to remove heavy debris by yourself. Use an appropriate mask if cleaning mold or other debris. People with asthma and other lung conditions and/or immunosuppression should not enter buildings with indoor water leaks or mold growth that can be seen or smelled. Children should not take part in disaster cleanup work. Avoid downed power or utility lines; they may be live with deadly voltage. Stay far away and report them immediately to your power company. Don’t drive through flood waters: Almost half of all flash flood deaths happen in vehicles. When in your car, look out for flooding in low lying areas at bridges and at highway dips. As little as 6 inches of water may cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Use a generator correctly and safely. Keep generators dry and position them outdoors and well away from any structure. Using a generator incorrectly can lead to dangerous situations, including carbon monoxide poisoning from engine exhaust. If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak while using a generator, get fresh air right away. If you are able, please check on your neighbors, friends, and family because some may need more help than others. Additional post-storm safety tips can be found on For more information on federal Hurricane Ida preparedness and response visit Hurricane Ida |

Reducing Winter Unility Bills.

With winter temps dropping, it can be very costly to maintain a comfortable home. Here are several ways to stay warm and cozy, while resisting the urge to move that needle on your thermostat.
Seal areas around windows and doors to prevent heat from escaping as well as insulating your water heater to prevent heat loss. Ensure vents and radiators are not blocked and keep curtains and blinds open during the day to allow sunlight to warm your home. Replace your furnace filters regularly and have your HVAC inspected by a professional before the cold weather kicks in.
Fixing leaky faucets and using energy efficient lightbulbs are additional ways of saving energy. Unplugging electronics that are not in use is also very helpful.
These are just a few ways to help minimize your utility costs and stay warm this winter.
Contact The Roberts Insurance Group for all your insurance needs at

Insurance companies recommend preparing your babysitter in fire safety.

As the holiday season approaches, you’ll probably have invites to some parties. If you need to get a babysitter, you can make sure they are prepared in case of an emergency.
First, always leave a phone number where you can be reached and a copy of the home address. Also, make sure the sitter knows the escape plan in the event of a fire or other emergency.
If your babysitter is allowed to cook, make sure the kids stay at least 3 feet away from the stove. Make sure they understand that they should never leave the stove unattended and never leave the room while cooking. If the smoke alarm goes off, they should know how to get the kids out of the house and call for help when everyone is safe.
It’s okay to ask your sitter, or their parent, if they have had any formal babysitter training. Some schools and hospitals offer training classes. They teach first aid, CPR, and what to do in an emergency.
Contact The Roberts Insurance Group for all your insurance needs at

If A Tree Falls On Your House…Who’s Insurance Company Will Hear It?

Record setting rainfall in the region has many homeowners feeling a little unsettled at the thought of a tree falling and causing property damage, or even worse, injury. In the unfortunate event that this does happen, here are a few scenarios and general guidelines to follow.
If your neighbor’s healthy tree falls on your house, it is usually your own homeowner’s policy that covers any damage. Check your homeowner’s policy to take note of what it covers and perhaps any exclusions. Storms causing damage are an act of nature and therefore no one’s fault. General rule of thumb….Your property, your policy. Remember that this also applies the other way around as well. If said tree falls on your vehicle, your comprehensive auto policy will then cover the damages. Again, if your tree damages your neighbor’s vehicle, their auto policy will apply.
Maybe you’ve been trying to convince your neighbor that they have a diseased tree that looks like it could fall at any time? If it does come down and cause damage, it’s possible that your insurance carrier will try to get your deductible reimbursed from your neighbor’s policy. This is provided you have proof of your efforts, such as a certified letter, to get them to remove the tree prior to the incident. The same rules apply if it’s your tree in question and your neighbor’s property is damaged. If you are unsure of the condition of your trees, it’s recommended that you have them inspected by a professional arborist.
Check your policy to confirm if other unattached structures on your property are covered. i.e. a fence, unattached garage, shed, etc. Most will be at least partially covered.
Removal and clean up are generally covered if a downed tree blocks your driveway or pathway into your home. If it falls in the middle of your yard and doesn’t cause any damage, it will probably not be covered.
Check with your insurance broker to answer any questions or concerns you may have regarding tree loss and damage. It’s important to have sufficient coverage for whatever might blow your way.

Traditionally boozy St. Patrick’s Day can affect your auto insurance rates!

Did you know that there are over 300,000 incidents of drinking and driving each day? And St. Patrick’s Day is the 4th most popular day of the year for drinking. While most people know it’s not only dangerous, it’s also a crime that will likely result in legal, financial, personal and even career ramifications.

According to industry insight, some of the likely consequences may result in:
* Most states will suspend your license for a varying lengths of time. Multiple convictions will sometimes result in revocation of a license.
*Some states require a mandatory jail sentence, even for a first offense, as well as a hefty fine and/or fees.
*A drunk driving conviction may lead to job loss or restrictions if you operate a company vehicle.
* Higher insurance rates almost always accompany a drunk driving conviction. if you are involved in an accident as a result of drunk driving, your insurance may deny payment for injury treatment.

To avoid higher insurance rates and other potentially disastrous results, don’t drink and drive!
Enjoy St. Patrick’s Day responsibly and use your ride share app!

Summertime is the worst for distracted drivers, causing more claims for auto insurance companies

This article is from Property and Casualty magazine, By Danielle Ling | July 24, 2018 at 03:36 PM

Summertime: school is out, children are at play, and for some reason or another, distracted driving is at its peak, as new research from Travelers and TrueMotion shows.

In their study, researchers at TrueMotion, a leading smartphone telematics platform, analyzed the behavior of more than 20,000 drivers from January 2017 to May 2018. The results found that drivers spent less time looking at the road and more time looking at their phones during the months of June, July and August, more than any other time of the year.

With this information in hand, experts at Travelers are working to warn drivers about the increased risks of distracted driving.

As technology develops, new cars are made safer year after year. Despite this adoption of safer technologies, vehicular deaths continue to rise. A major explanation for this is distracted driving, which Rafi Finegold, VP of Product and Experience at TrueMotion, says is an obvious takeaway from the data study.

Travelers and TrueMotion research found that on average, nearly 40% of drivers are distracted for 15 minutes or more per hour driven during the summer. The study results also found that nearly 10% more distracted driving happens in summer through June, July and August than any other season.

Many employees (43%) say they respond to work-related communications (phone calls or emails); 38% say they always need to be available for their bosses, making this a big issue for employees and employers.

Why are we so distracted?

So, why can’t the phone wait?

According to the study, 61% of respondents say they respond to texts, emails and calls while driving because there may be an emergency. Roughly a quarter (23%) say they pick up the phone in fear of missing out on something.

What’s interesting is that 85% of respondents acknowledge that driving while using personal technology is risky, but 25 % say they believe they can do so safely.

To explain the rise in distracted driving in the summer months, Finegold offers two hypotheses. One is a change in demographic profiles on the road. School’s out, and more high schoolers and younger drivers, who are statistically a more dangerous demographic, are more active on our roadways.

The second hypothesis Finegold suggests focuses on a change in travel patterns. More drivers are going on vacations and day trips with more passengers in the car, breaking away from their typical routine, and taking alternate, unfamiliar routes.

Every second matters

Vehicular deaths are the number one cause of death of young people in the United States, and distracted driving continues to be a major contributor to these fatalities.

Looking at the numbers, Woodward says she and her colleagues at Travelers were extremely concerned about the continued increase in policy prices and vehicular deaths related to distracted driving. In an effort to save lives and spread awareness, Travelers launched its Every Second Matters campaign in the summer of 2017 to combat distracted driving.

The initiative of Every Second Matters recognizes that every driver, passenger and pedestrian has a role to play in changing social norms around distraction. The campaign’s mission is to drive change with data and research through its many partnerships, and to empower others to drive and walk present.

“The bottom line reason why we’ve taken this on is because the fatality rates are through the roof,” says Joan Woodward, executive vice president of Public Policy at Travelers and president of the Travelers Institute.

“Pedestrian fatalities are also through the roof. There’s a toxic mix of both distracted drivers and distracted pedestrians that can intersect to create deadly accidents. Almost 6,000 pedestrians died in vehicular accidents last year. It is a crisis.”

So maybe it’s time to put the phone down and limit our activity in the car to simply driving!!?