A Tribute to Tiger

 

Tiger

He was just a handful of orange fluff when I brought him home, but it was no time at all until he asserted himself as the alpha dog over our aging, laid back Golden Retriever, Baron.  Ever patient, Baron tolerated the little tiger who alternately pulled his ears or slept between his paws.

Somewhere along in his fifth year, Tiger developed Black Skin Disease (known as BSD), which seems to be seen often in Pomeranians.  His pretty pink skin turned black and he lost most of his hair, except  for that on his head and feet.  While not contagious, it did cause second glances from people he encountered.  But his adorable face always outweighed his not-so-adorable body and of course he was oblivious to how he looked.  His vet recommended a regimen of a drug called soloxine, along with melatonin and low and behold, he re-grew about fifty percent of his hair!

Tiger spent the next several  years being a consummate  lap dog.  During the warmer months he would spend hours sitting in the yard either surveying the neighborhood or watching the birds flying overhead.

The addition of other dogs to our family over the span of Tiger’s life never  bothered  him – he seemed to always know that he was special and the others were simply to be tolerated.

After a brief but severe  illness, Tiger crossed over the Rainbow Bridge on June 13, 2011.  He is now back with Baron – and hopefully not pulling his ears.

Universal Cell Phone Chargers No Longer a Pipe Dream

Sony Ericsson K750i

Image via Wikipedia

By 2012, it is anticipated that most cell phones in the United States will use the same kind of connector to charge their batteries. This technology has already been adopted in Europe. LG, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, and Sony Ericsson, among others, have agreed to use the Micro-USB technology as the common universal charging interface. This single standard will not only make life easier for the more than 3 billion mobile phone users in the world today, but it will lower cost, and help the environment.

While a relatively simple agreement, this represents a huge leap in ease of use for cellphones. If the trend continues and more companies agree to this consensus, every phone charger will become interchangeable between phones. Only 1 or 2 cellphone chargers will be necessary per houseold, rather than the current average of 4-5, reducing the effective cost of owning a cellphone.

Furthermore, cell phone manufacturers are developing chargers that will consume about 50 percent less power. Eliminating the need for people to replace lost chargers will significantly reduce greenhouse gases emitted in the manufacturing and transporting of these extra chargers. It will also mean less waste in landfills because people won’t simply throw away chargers when they stop using their old phones. It is estimated that 700,000 pounds of old cell phone chargers are added to our landfills in the United States annually.

Saving energy and saving our planet is huge. Huge savings for auto, home, business and life insurance are just a call away at A. Gordon Insurance!

Bill Cordaro
Commercial Accounts
Andrew G. Gordon, Inc.
Insurance & Risk Management

Appealing a Surcharge

 

Before you start the process of appealing a surcharge, it is important to first understand how the Merit Rating Board and Safe Driver Insurance Plan (SDIP) work.

 The Merit Rating Board:

All Massachusetts auto insurance companies are required to report at-fault accidents and out-of-state driving records to the Merit Rating Board (MRB). The MRB is the state agency that maintains driving records.
The MRB driving record consists of surchargeable incidents. A surchargeable incident is any event in which you are:

  1. Convicted of, or pay a fine for, a motor vehicle violation
  2. Assigned to an alcohol education program or controlled substance treatment or rehabilitation program
  3. Found to be more than 50 percent at fault for an accident, and your insurance company makes a claim payment above a certain threshold

If you decide not to pursue an appeal, the surcharge can increase your premium and SDIP step.
In addition, each surchargeable incident counts toward possible license suspension.

You are considered to be more than 50 percent at fault in an accident if your insurance company:

  1. Finds you at fault according to one of the 19 At-Fault Standards  and
  2. Has paid a claim of more than $500 for Collision, Limited Collision, Damage to Someone Else’s Property, or Bodily Injury to Others.

Safe Driver Insurance Plan (SDIP)
The Safe Driver Insurance Plan (SDIP) is mandated by state law to establish classifications of risks to fairly reflect the driving records of insureds and adjust premiums based in part on at-fault accidents. The Plan encourages safe driving by rewarding drivers who do not cause accidents or incur traffic law violations with a credit to their automobile insurance premiums, and discourages unsafe driving by requiring high-risk drivers to pay a greater share of insurance costs. Massachusetts, unlike many comparable jurisdictions that afford no or limited due process rights, provides the right to a hearing before an impartial hearing officer of the Board.

If you believe that you are not more than 50% at-fault for an accident in which you received a surcharge, you may appeal the motor vehicle accident surcharge to the Division of Insurance Board of Appeal.

Your insurance company will mail you a Notice of Surcharge.

  1. If any of the information listed on the Surcharge Notice is incorrect (name, driver’s license number or date of accident), contact the issuing insurance company to make the corrections before appealing.
  2. If you do not receive a Surcharge Notice or misplace it:
  3. Contact your insurance agent for a copy of the Surcharge Notice     OR
  4. Request a late appeal from the Merit Rating Board.
  5. Complete the Surcharge Appeal Form located on the reverse side of the Notice of Surcharge.
  • The appeal must be filed within 30 days of the surcharge date.
  • If you did not submit your appeal within 30 days because you never received a Surcharge Notice, you must obtain a Late Appeal from the Merit Rating Board. The Board of Appeal must receive the Late Appeal within 30 days of your policy renewal.
  1. Submit a $50.00 check or money order payable to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts/Board of Appeal.
  • The fee is non-refundable.
  1. Mail your appeal to the post office box designated on the application. Late appeals must be sent directly to the Division of Insurance, Board of Appeal.
  2. Upon receipt of your surcharge application, the Board will mail you a postcard to acknowledge your appeal. Your cancelled check will serve as an additional receipt of your filing.
  3. The Board will mail you a Notice of Hearing approximately 3 weeks prior to your hearing date.
  4. Appeal hearings are scheduled in Boston, Brockton, Cambridge, Peabody, Plymouth, Somerville, Springfield, Waltham, or Worcester. Carefully note the location of your hearing listed on the Notice. Directions are included at the bottom of the Hearing Notice.
  5. Upon receipt of the Hearing Notice, you have three options for which to pursue the appeal:
    1. Appear in Person.
      Bring your Hearing Notice to the scheduled location.
      Bring copies of all relevant information, any documents/photographs etc. that you want the Hearing Officer to consider when making the decision.
    2. Submit a Written Statement in lieu of your appearance.
      The Board must receive your written or typed statement via mail or facsimile at least 5 days priorto your hearing. The statement must include:
      • copies of all relevant information, any documents/photographs etc. that you want the Hearing Officer to consider in making the decision
      • your signature on the Hearing Notice that identifies you are waiving a personal appearance in favor of your written statement & affirms that your statement is truthful.
    3. Select a representative to appear on your behalf.
      If you elect to submit a written statement via a representative, instead of appearing in person, it must include:

      • Copies of all relevant information, any documents/photographs etc. that you want the Hearing Officer to consider in making the decision
      • your signature on the Hearing Notice that identifies you are waiving a personal appearance in favor of your written statement & affirms that your written statement is truthful.

The hearing is informal and public, lasting approximately 20 – 30 minutes. The Hearing Officer will make an audio tape recording of the hearing. You and your insurance company representative will be given an opportunity to present all pertinent information. You may also bring a witness or a witness statement to the hearing. The Hearing Officer may ask you or the representative questions to clarify the information presented or the circumstances of the accident.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the Hearing Officer will take your appeal under advisement. The facts and circumstances presented will be reviewed in accordance with the governing laws and regulations.

The Memorandum of Finding and Order, the Board’s decision, will be mailed to you within 2-4 weeks. The Board will also contact the Commonwealth’s Merit Rating Board and your insurance company so that your driving history record will be properly updated.

  • If the decision is marked VACATE, the Board has found that you were not more than 50% at-fault for the accident. Any points that you received on your driving record as a result of the accident will be removed.
  • If the decision is marked UPHELD, the Board has found that you were more than 50% at-fault for the accident. The surcharge points will remain on your driving record.

If you disagree with the determination of the Board, you may appeal the decision to your county’s Superior Court or in Boston Suffolk County Court. You must file this appeal within 30 days of your receipt of the decision.
A surcharge incurred due to a traffic violation or a non-moving violation are not appealable to the Board…

Bill Cordaro
Commercial Accounts
Andrew G. Gordon, Inc.

MA Documents: The Notorious Notary

Image courtesy of cartoonstock.com

We all know death and taxes are certain. Have you also noticed there is a growing need to have mainstream documents notarized? As recent as a few years ago, common day documents such as simple permission slips for minors for a field trip to the museum  or rental agreements for college age students were simply signed by the  student, parent or guardian. Not so much any longer as many mundane forms now require the official stamp of notarization from your local friendly notary. Here at Andrew G. Gordon Inc., we are happy to help out any customer with our complimentary notary service. This service is also available to new visitors to our agency.

What is a notary, you ask?  A notary public is an official of integrity appointed by the state to serve the public as an impartial witness in performing a variety of official fraud-deterrent acts related to the signing of important documents. These official acts are called notarizations or notarial acts. Notaries are publicly commissioned as “ministerial” officials, meaning that they are expected to follow written rules without the exercise of significant personal discretion, as would be the case with a “judicial” official.

If you are asked for your driver’s license, please do not be offended. It is the duty of a notary to screen the signers of particularly sensitive instruments — such as property deeds, wills and powers of attorney — for their true identity, willingness to sign without duress or intimidation, and  awareness of the general import of the document. Some notarizations also require the notary to put the signer under an oath declaring under penalty of perjury that the information contained in a document is true and correct. Impartiality is the byword of the notary and the foundation of its public trust. Notaries are duty-bound not to act in situations where they have a personal interest. This means the notary cannot notarize a family member’s document.  The public trusts that the notary’s critical screening tasks have not been corrupted by self-interest. Impartiality dictates that a notary never refuse to serve a person due to race, nationality, religion, politics, sexual orientation or status as a non-customer.

Remember that Andrew G. Gordon, Inc. offers complimentary notary services to our clients or new visitors with appropriate documentation.  Stop by and we will be sure to assist you!

Katherine McCarthy
CPCU, Andrew G. Gordon, Inc.

Andrew G. Gordon Insurance: April 2011

Boston Massachusetts: Copley Square

Image via Wikipedia

April is a month that welcomes spring with its famous “showers that bring May Flowers”.  With weather that changes from day to day, April is a fickle month with temperatures ranging anywhere from 15º to 80º that always includes the possibility of a late-season snow storm.  In spite of it all, the crocuses and daffodils manage to bloom and remind us that the warmer half of the year is ahead.

One of the infamously less appreciated events in April is the dreaded holiday known to most Americans as “income tax day”.  This year, however, due to the Patriot’s Day holiday, the filing deadline is extended to April 19th.

A short side note: Patriots Day is a celebration of the beginning of the American Revolutionary War between the British and the Colonial Americans which began on April 19, 1775.  Both Massachusetts and Maine celebrate the holiday on the third Monday in April (nearest to the 19th).  As such, a reenactment of the battle is annually held on Lexington Green, with a mid-morning parade in Concord featuring fife and drum bands.  But, if you plan to attend, it’s best to get there early to get a good vantage spot.  And don’t forget to take advantage of the several pancake breakfasts hosted by area churches.

April also offers the Boston Marathon, the oldest marathon in the world – founded in 1897.  It too, is held on the 3rd Monday in April during the Patriots Day holiday. The race begins in Hopkinton and ends at Copley Square in Boston, a total of 26.22 miles.  About 20,000 runners from around the world take part.  The first starters are the wheelchair runners.  Next are the Elite Women, then the Elite Men and then wave after wave of other runners.  The race lasts most of the day, with some runners straggling in after dark.

And, of course, for you fishermen out there, April is the opening of the Cod fishing season in Massachusetts!

Have a great April!

Sandi C.
Andrew G. Gordon, Inc.
Insurance & Risk Management

Car Crashes: a word to the wise from the not-so-wise

Honda CR-V photographed in Rockville, Maryland...

Image via Wikipedia

Let it be stated for the record that I, Corbin Foucart, am henceforth a TERRIBLE driver. This shall be reflected in both my crushed ego and in my insurance premium. However, until 6:57 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, April 1st 2011, I considered myself a good driver. Why the transformation? Because that morning I took my cherished 1994 Honda CR-V and slammed it into a tree.

Now some explanation. I don’t have the right to make excuses; I was ENTIRELY at fault, BUT…

  1. The roads were slippery. It was snowing on April 1st!!
  2. The roads on which I drove were untouched by plows.
  3. Another student totaled her car on the same road that morning. Misery loves company.
  4. I was going around a curve
  5. I was going very slowly (Less than 20 mph). The airbags didn’t go off, and there was barely an impact.

…but I know that I should have been traveling even slower.

As I rounded the curve, the Honda began to slip off the road. Threshold braking did not help at all. Under different circumstances, I would have described the “crunch” sound as very satisfying. At the moment, it sounded like the lid of my own coffin closing. I tried shifting into reverse and backing out, but the Honda had grown attached to the tree and was holding it in a twisted metal embrace. So I called home. Uh oh.

My mom actually thought it was an April fool’s joke. I had to repeat myself several times before she understood that I wasn’t pulling her leg.

 I totaled the car; even though it wasn’t that bad of a crash, the undercarriage was bent.

What I find weird is that it wasn’t a stereotypical ‘bad morning’. I’d been accepted by Stanford, my dream school, the day before and that morning I was still running on a feeling of elation.  I was in no rush, and was looking forward to the day. Needless to say, the collision brought me crashing –no pun intended- back down to Earth. In the grand scheme of things, a totaled car is a small price to pay for my sister’s life and my own, but still frustrating nevertheless. The very sobering reality is that now I have no personal freedom to travel where I please. Doing things I took for granted with a car now has to be coordinated in advance.  

An interesting article by Insurance journal (which is worth having your teen read, by the way) states the a new study showed that the vast majority of teen crashes are caused by failing to scan for possible hazards, speeding, or becoming distracted. While I would argue that my personal case falls under the category of “poor weather or road conditions”, which they cite as rare, I know from the vast majority of accidents and fender-benders my peers are involved in that these three causes are legitimate. Another student I know totalled his car earlier in the year going to fast and driving into a rock wall. Another student did the exact same thing last month. Another student I know hit a tree while texting in the car. I’m sure as a reader you can think of countless similar anecdotal evidence to support the article’s conclusions.

The moral of the story to me is that accidents can happen WHENEVER you let your guard down.  Be safe, be vigilant, and as I’ve learned, BE SLOW!

The tree could not be reached for comment.

What Can We Do Better?

Loyal viewers, bloggers, and anyone with spare time on their hands:

At A. G. Gordon, Inc., we’ve been working on giving our blog better features in order to better serve you in your search for insurance information and resources. Please feel free to drop us a comment (or an email) about what we could do to make you happy. We aim to please. If you find yourself speechless, here is a quick survey of what you think we should change on our blog.

Any feedback given is greatly appreciated.

-The A. G. Gordon Team

Sweetheart Trivia

 

Did you know the best-selling Valentine’s Day candies are not Godiva chocolates but our own locally manufactured Sweetheart Conversation Hearts? Over 8 billion candy hearts with romantically inspired messages were sold last year by the New England Confectionary Company located in Revere, Ma. 

We can credit the American colonists for starting the practice of making a gift of candy with a message inscribed on it.  Early American would make homemade hard candies and etch messages into the surface to give to a sweetheart.  Around the time of the Civil War, Oliver Chase decided to turn a tradition into a successful candy business by founding New England Confectionary Company

They originally manufactured candy in the shape of a seashell with the message printed on a piece of paper wedged into the candy shell. A major innovation was introduced in 1902 when NECCO produced the candies called Sweet Hearts with the mottoes printed directly on the pastel candies.  They offered hearts, seashell and other interesting shapes like horseshoes and baseballs.   

Times have changed and so have the flavors and mottos of Valentine’s Day most loved confection. NECCO recently introduced new flavors and sayings. The new flavors include strawberry, green apple, lemon, grape, orange, and blue raspberry. For the first time in its 145-year history, the public was invited to participate in an online survey to decide which phrases of love would appear on conversation hearts . The winners include: “Tweet Me,” “Text Me,” “You Rock,” “Soul Mate,” “Love Bug,” and “Me + You.” They join classic expressions that continue to appear on the candies: “Puppy Love,” “Sweet Love,” “Sweat Pea,” and “Love Me.”

New sayings also featured food-inspired phrases, such as “Recipe 4 Love,” “Table 4 Two,” and “Top Chef.”

Some favorites among the more than one hundred Sweetheart sayings have been in circulation since the hearts were first factory-made in 1902. These classics include “Kiss Me,” “Sweet Talk,” and “Be Mine.” Sometimes a motto is discontinued for a time and then makes a reappearance while others are gone but not forgotten.  No worries- it may not be long before  “Dig Me” makes a sweetheart of a comeback!

Visit our website www.agordon.com for important and timely information on insurance topics for you and your sweetheart.

Kasey McCarthy, CPCU

Manager

www.agordon.com

Get My Drift?

Snow, snow, everywhere…. I know, we have all seen enough of the white stuff, it seems like it is never going to stop piling up.  It seems that we all have done nothing this winter but shovel, snow blow, and plow. 

However, there are a few places that might be forgotten but are extremely important to keep clear.  The most important one are the fire hydrants.  It is imperative that in the case of a fire, the firefighters are able to find and actually use them – your home could be at stake.   The electric and gas meters should be kept clear as well, think of the poor meter readers that may not even be able to find the meter to read.   At least the gas and electric companies will estimate the readings if it cannot be read.  How about the pipe that fills the oil tank??  If the oil delivery person cannot get to the pipe, you may not get that very important oil delivery – this is not the winter to run out of oil!  What about your mail box?  How long are those postal worker’s arms anyways? 

So, bottom line, take a look around your house to make sure that anybody that may need  to get to your house, actually can.  If you are able-bodied, please, check your neighbors, especially the elderly. 

Sooner or later, these piles will shrink down to nothing, but in the meantime, be careful!!  For topical information on insurance issues, visit our website: www.agordon.com

Sue Renfrew    

Account Representative                                                 

www.agordon.com

Ice Dams – what to do

Many homeowners may have ice dams forming on their roofs after all the snow we’ve had this winter. Once an ice dam forms, it is difficult to fix. The safest course is to hire a professional because of the dangers of falling snow and icicles, unsecured ladders, and possible damage to shingles and gutters.

If you choose to do the work yourself, take extreme care and follow these recommendations from contracting experts:
1. Use a roof rake to remove snow buildup from the roof.

a. AVOID USING A ROOF RAKE NEAR ANY ELECTRICAL WIRING!
b. DO NOT climb on a roof or work on a ladder beneath a roof that has lots of snow on it
c. Be especially careful on ladders; be sure the base is well secured.
2. Remove ice buildup around gutters by melting the ice with calcium chloride (other products such as rock salt will damage the roof shingles). For added effectiveness, put the melting agent inside a sock or nylon stocking, and lay perpendicular to the gutters or roof line. This creates a channel in the ice dam, releasing the melting agent slowly and allowing the water to drip to the ground through.
3. After applying a melting agent, if you must chip the ice, do so very carefully. NEVER strike your roof with an axe, hammer, or anything that will damage the shingles.

Warning signs: Aside from leaks, stains, and damaged ceilings or walls, there are several signs that ice dams are beginning to cause interior damage.
• Large icicles hanging from the gutters during cold-snaps following snow storms.
• A thick blanket of snow down slope of bare shingles points toward trouble.
• Water dripping from the roof over a layer of ice is a hint that a dam has formed.
Visit our website at www.agordon.com for a list of local contractors who are trained at removing ice dams safely and effectively. The cost to have ice dams removed from your home is usually less than your deductible!
For other tips on keeping the cost of your homeowner’s insurance low, visit www.agordon.com/home, or view our library of whiteboard presentations at www.agordon.com/whiteboards.

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