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Sarasota Insurance News

Choosing Safe Cars for Teens in Sarasota

A teen holding key in front of a white background

So your teenager has gone through drivers ed and has passed the driver’s test. For his or her 16th birthday, you would like to gift your pride and joy with a new car. However, expense aside, the facts are that most teenagers lack impulse control and sometimes do not think through the consequences of their actions, great care has to be taken to selecting the first set of wheels that they will drive to school and on dates. It is useful, therefore, to list the sorts of cars you should not buy your child.

That you should avoid sports cars is a no-brainer. There is something about a powerful engine and the sleek, sexy lines of such vehicles that cry out to be driven at unsafe speeds and in a reckless manner. Tell your kid that he or she can have a sports car when they become older and can afford it themselves.

You should also avoid vehicles that are inherently unstable, such as SUVs, that cannot take tight turns very well, smaller cars, that tend to not survive crashes too well, or older cars that will likely not have the latest safety features and may be prone to breaking down at inconvenient times.

The perfect starter car for your teenager would be a late model midsize vehicle that is packed with the most current safety features. Some of these features should be standard, such as airbags, antilock brakes, and traction control. But Consumer Reports lists some more high-tech safety features that you should seriously consider shelling out for as an extra protection for your teen against auto accidents. These include:

  • Braking assist which can consist of a warning in case the driver is approaching the vehicle ahead of him or her too quickly or even an automatic braking feature that stops the car to avoid a head-on crash.
  • Blind spot warning that will alert the driver that another vehicle is in an adjacent lane and even makes a sound if a driver attempts to change lanes that will result in a crash.
  • Lane departure and lane keeping feature which will alert the driver if he or she is straying out of the current lane without consciously signaling and will turn the steering wheel to put the car back in the lane if it is straying accidentally.
  • A backup camera that shows what is behind the car without the driver having to turn his or her head or rely on a rear view mirror.

You can go to both the United States Department of Transportation site and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety site to research safety ratings for various models and makes of cars and other information before making your selection.


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Staying Safe in Road Work Zone’s in Sarasota

road construction worker holding a detour sign and gesturing to stop.

When there are workers on the road, it can be difficult for drivers. It can cause delays, as well as frustratiion, for those who are trying to get to work or run errands. Anyone can experience the feeling of impatience during a traffic jam in a work zone, which can actually cause harm to the people on the road. In 2014 alone, there were 669 deaths and 30,500 injuries caused by auto accidents that took place in work areas.

However, driving in a work zone does not have to be full of stress. As long as you are mindful of everything going on around you, including other cars and workers, you can do your part to keep the streets safe for everyone. If you have to drive in a work zone on a regular basis, there are a few things that you should keep in mind in order to make the streets as safe as possible and minimize stress for yourself and others.

When you are going into a work zone, you should make sure that you are able to handle the unexpected. In work zones, situations can often change quickly and unexpectedly. The traffic could unexpectedly come to a stop or slow down, workers and equipment can go into the road, traffic lanes could end up merging, et cetera. Stay mindful and be prepared for all these sorts of events. Also, make sure to stay with the speed limit even if you do not actually see construction going on at the time, as more than a third of fatal accidents in these work zones are precipitated by speeding drivers. Make sure that you pay attention and follow the orders of road signs and road crew flaggers, as they are there to help drivers navigate safely through work zones. Also, make sure that you keep a safe following distance between you and other cars, as rear-end collisions are responsible for about 30 percent of accidents in work zones. Make sure to keep a good distance between you and workers/equipment as well.

Once you have seen that you are in a work zone, be mindful of what is going on around you and maintain a safe driving speed. Keep your attention fully on the road, and avoid multitasking; this is especially important in a work zone, which is full of activity and carries more potential for accidents. Make sure that you keep up with the traffic as well; do not slow down or allow yourself to be distracted by the road work.

If possible, the safest thing to do is to avoid work zones completely. However, if you have to drive through them, there are a few things you can do before even getting into the car. You can plan ahead, checking the traffic reports and looking at all of the available resources on your smartphone if you have one. You can also make sure to leave early, so that you have a few extra minutes in your schedule that will permit any delays caused in the work zone. Also, try to be patient, keeping in mind that the crews are there to improve the roads and make them safer for everyone.


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How to Attract Millennials to Insurance in Sarasota

beautiful young insurance agent watching straight in camera

According to industry experts, like David Crawford, managing director of Insurance Advisement in New Zealand, roughly half the insurance industry workforce is set to retire by 2030. The mean age of advisors working today is just 42. In the U.S., the average age of a financial advisor is 51, with 40% of advisors being over 55 and one-third being between 55 and 64.

This puts incredible stress on the industry to come up with solutions to an aging workforce.

At least one company, Swiss Re, has come up with a plan to attract younger professionals to AM Best TV. Keith Wolfe, managing director, says the first step is focusing on creating a “millennial friendly” work environment.

To that end, he made changes to the office environment, including changes that allow younger professionals to work from home. On top of that, Wolfe has introduced more flexible work hours and allows employees to telecommute.

“…it’s a very different work environment than the expectation of the other three generations,” Wolfe said.

Wolfe also suggests changing a lot of the industry jargon to make the industry as a whole easier to understand. It may also change millennials’ perception of insurance from a boring industry to one that’s necessary, exciting, and important.

For example, using the term “claims adjudication” and “adjuster” sounds harsh and adversarial. Instead, Wolfe suggests changing it to “resolution specialists,” because this is what they do. They resolve claims filed by the insured.

A lot of it is positioning, according to Wolfe. When millennials see their role as solving problems and helping people, they may be more apt to pick up the role. If they think they’re another cog in the corporate wheel, and are there to punish the policyholder, then there’s not much to like about the job.

When asked about the aging workforce, Wolfe admitted it’s a problem and that he doesn’t see an abrupt end or retirement as the solution. Instead, a gradual shift to retirement would be more appropriate and help smooth the transition to a younger generation.

It would also allow time for the older, more experienced, insurance professionals to pass on their accumulated knowledge to the next generation.

The industry must also consider the outdated skill set of an older generation and update it for millennials. For example, many in the current workforce didn’t grow up with computers. They didn’t have to maintain an electronic database, and didn’t file claims electronically. Today, the technology exists to do that, making claims processing easier, faster, and more efficient.

Wolfe plans to run a graduates’ program targeted at undergraduates from around the world. By focusing on technology training, he can bring new hires up to speed on technological advancements that will make their job easier.

The insurance industry has traditionally lagged in this area. For example, claims adjusters in Sarasota have traditionally experienced claims that are higher than the national average. This is because Florida suffers more storm damage than much of the country.

Unfortunately, with older systems, claims processing takes time, and clogs up the system. Adjusters have to work long hours and even weekends to keep up with the claims demand.

Processing speed becomes a limiting factor. However, with newer systems being implemented in Sarasota, and other cities in Florida, adjusters are noticing claims processing times dropping.

In February of this year, the insurance industry held its first insurance careers month. Representatives from over 300 insurance companies attended, allowing the industry to showcase career opportunities for millennials. The hope is that this new marketing initiative will drive employment. Only time will tell.

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5 Ways Businesses Can Prepare for Hurricane Season in Sarasota

Businesswoman outside in bad weather

Mitigate possible losses

Homeowners aren’t the only ones affected by these catastrophic storms. Businesses are also affected, and they need to have a disaster plan ready so that they can mitigate any losses that occur after a storm hits. They must develop a plan that helps them remain open or enable them to reopen quickly, after the disaster is under control.

Develop a plan that helps prevent or reduce flood damage, especially if your business is located in a flood-prone area. If your business sustains property damage, you are obligated to minimize or prevent further damage. If you can’t find a contractor right way, place a waterproof tarp on your roof to keep the rain out of the building’s interior. All expenses you incur to minimize your property damage are reimbursable, as long as you have insurance.

Notification of loss

Call your insurance company as soon as you are aware that your business has sustained property damage. Once your agent receives the notification, he or she will send out an adjuster to determine the level of damage and arrange for cleanup and repairs.

Five Tips to Help Your Business Prepare for Flooding

1. Research local contractors and restoration companies ahead of time.

Learn about the Sarasota, FL roofing contractors and restoration companies in your neighborhood. Find out which ones are the best and add them to your business contacts database. Also, contact them and establish a working relationship.

That way, when disaster does strike, you will know who to call to have the repairs made. Be aware that the demand for emergency services surges after a severe storm. Don’t wait too long to call them, or you may find yourself dealing with a sub-par roofing contractor and/or restoration company.

2. Develop an emergency response plan.

An emergency response plan is essential if you expect to react quickly, once a disaster strikes.

Take extra precautions if your business uses chemicals or pollutants. Never forget to include pre-planning options to safely relocate them to avoid injury and property damage during the cleanup process. If possible, store them in another area that isn’t prone to floods.

Invest in a generator.

Generators are great to prevent power interruptions during major storms. If you own a large building, where other businesses rent a space from you, a generator is essential. It minimizes their risk of going out of business and you losing valuable tenants.

3. Keep your insurance policies and photographs in a safe, waterproof place.

In the event of an emergency, contact your insurance company or broker and provide them with as much detailed information as possible. Photograph your building prior to the disaster, and then take photos after it is over. These Before and After photos will provide invaluable information to your insurance carrier about your loss.

4. Don’t sign any repair or restoration contracts without talking to your insurance company adjuster first.

Your adjuster can protect you from price gouging, which often occurs after a catastrophe. However, he/she will not be able to protect you if you have already signed a contract. Since they are not bound by any contracts that you sign, you can expect to lose more money, in addition to the money that you lost in the disaster.

5. Keep your records organized.

Prepare a list of damaged or destroyed property for your adjuster and keep a copy for your records. Provide available invoices, canceled checks and anything that supports the value of your property before the disaster hit.

Make sure to keep all of your invoices and receipts for every expense you incur after the loss. This includes cleaning supplies, tarps, boards, etc. These costs will help lessen your deductible.


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Florida is Home to the Country’s Worst Drivers, Study Says

Worst Driver

Florida has often found itself the brunt of many jokes about its drivers and it’s always been suspected to be a terrible state filled with bad drivers, but a study recently published confirms it: Florida is home to the worst drivers anywhere in the U.S. Personal finance tech company SmartAsset conducted a study that looked at four driver-related metrics and came to the conclusion as to which U.S. state is plagued by the worst driving conditions and drivers. Not too surprisingly, Florida was found to be teeming with terrible drivers.

According to the study, Floridians conducted online searches for “speeding tickets” and “traffic tickets” more often than any other state. Florida drivers are glaring uninsured with almost 1 in 4 drivers being on the road without any auto insurance coverage at all. Most terrifying is the finding that they are in more traffic-related deaths than nine of the top 25 states.

The Sunshine State earned the absolute lowest index score of any state nationwide, an aggregate indicator of comparatively devalued marks across all measured items. However, it has to be noted that Florida’s index score was greatly skewed to one side by a single metric: the number of Google searches of traffic accident-related phrases. Many factors could ave impacted this spike such as Miami, the state’s largest metro areas, and other big cities are so mobile friendly? To help generate a more fair and balanced report and to round out its assessment of driving dangers in the state of Florida, SmartAsset reviewed additional data on U.S. drivers- DUI arrest stats. Data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, put Florida with 4.45 “driving under the influence” arrests for every 1,000 drivers. To put this into a national perspective the state of Vermont has 50.86 DUI arrests for every 1,000 drivers, and Delaware only had 0.29 arrests for every 1,000 drivers. It is believed that id-sharing services and public transportation are helping to keep the alcohol related arrests down in the sunshine state.

The famous nonprofit organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) also concluded in a study that has shown ride-hailing apps to be “a powerful tool in reducing drunk driving.” The study, was mad public in print in January 2015, and it analyzed drivers in one of the largest and most populated counties in Florida- Miami-Dade County. Their study also found that ride share services such as Uber see a peak in riders at times that also correlate to the times when alcohol-related crashes are most consistently occur. This further helps show the power ride-hailing services and taxis can help keep the state with the most dangerous drivers a little bit safer.

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Shopping for a Safe Car in Sarasota

There many variables to consider in determining what makes one automobile safer than another.  The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety strives to provide consumers with the information they need to make safe choices when purchasing cars.

In the area of vehicle research, they offer information on both crash avoidance and crash worthiness.  Crash worthiness is the ability of a structure to protect its occupants during an impact.

What makes one car safer than another?  What features contribute to car safety?  What features make one car more dangerous than another?  What is the ideal combination to keep your family safe?


Crash tests show that heavy cars offer more protection than light cars with the same safety equipment.  If you want to buy a smaller car because it’s less expensive, you need to realize that there may be a trade-off in terms of safety.  That’s because larger and heavier cars are safer than smaller and lighter ones.  Small cars have twice as many occupant deaths each year than larger cars.  The larger car’s weight and its resistance to rolling over keep you safer.  Large cars also have an advantage in frontal crashes because there is a larger crash zone to absorb the impact of the crash.


Horsepower measures how much force the engine can apply  in a certain time period.  If your vehicle is extremely high in horsepower you’re more likely at some point  to test it to the limit, so you’re safer if you don’t have that opportunity. Buying an immature teenager a high performance car is not wise.


Belts, airbags and head restraints all work together with a vehicle’s structure to protect people in serious crashes.

  • Seat belts keep you inside the vehicle and stop you from colliding with the windshield, steering wheel, and dashboard.  Additionally, some cars now have belt crash pretensioners, which retract the seat belt to remove slack instantly upon impact.
  • Front and side airbags inflate to protect your body from collision with the car’s interior objects and the windshield.  Airbags and lap/shoulder belts together are very effective.
  • Head restraints limit head movement during a rear-impact crash, protecting your neck from injury.  Some head restraints have to be adjusted manually.  Others adjust automatically during a crash or when seat position changes.  However, if restraints are adjustable, you must be sure they can be locked into place so they will remain stable during a crash.


Anti-lock brakes pump automatically to prevent lockup and allow you to maintain safe steering control.  Some systems also detect speed or force and boost power as needed, reducing the stopping distance by eliminating delay.  Learning to use the anti-lock brake system correctly is key to getting the safest benefit from this system.

The industry’s knowledge of physics is increasing the ability to produce safer cars for your family.  You can get a rating of crash worthiness from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s web site (http://www.highwayafe.org).

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Teen Texting and Driving in Sarasota


We all know texting and driving is dangerous. It is more so dangerous amongst teens than adults. Teens just have to have their information now. In 2010, 11% of young drivers involved in fatal crashes were caused by distraction; of that number, nearly one out of five were using cell phones, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Lets look at 5 ways as a parent you can help prevent your teen from texting and driving.

  1. Come to the realization that teens are going to text. In, fact research from Virginia Tech Transportation Institute has shown teen drivers are more likely to text than adults drivers especially in unsafe conditions.
  2. Research on the dangers, and risks of texting while driving. It is good to educated yourself. Did you know that taking your eyes of the road just for a second increases your risk of a crashing at least 23 times according to the research data from Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. It is like driving the equivalent length of a football field at 55 MPH with out looking.
  3. Create a plan to sit down and talk with your teen before you hand over the keys to the road. Set not rules, but expectations that you have for them in being a responsible, safe driver. Better yet devise a simple parent-teen contract between you and your teen to show the seriousness of driving safe not only for their safety but the safety of other drivers too.
  4. Install safe driving technology in your car, or purchase a car that features safe driving technology. Lets face it our teens are from a technological age. These features can help train/teach your teen to be a more responsible, more safe in their driving habits. They also can provide you feedback on how your teen drives, such as it can notify you if the driver keeps pressing on the brakes too hard. A sign of possibly not having full attention on the road, or following too closely.
  5. Lastly lead by example. Don’t text and drive yourself.





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Portable Generator Safety in Sarasota

Storms or natural disasters can create power outages that last for an extended period of time. During an outage, portable generators can offer much-needed temporary power, but there are potential risks associated with the use of these generators. Generators can be dangerous, and can lead to illness and injury, and even death if used improperly.

When using a portable generator, it is important to take safety precautions. Follow these guidelines for safe generator use:

  • Read the manufacturer’s operating manual and safety instructions before using your generator.
  • Never leave your generator running unattended, while you are away from your home or business.
  • Check your generator regularly while it is in operation.
  • Use caution when touching your generator as many areas become hot and cause burns.

Electrical Hazards

Electricity supplied by a generator has the same hazards as your regular utility-supplied electricity. You can face additional risks if your generator is not installed or operated properly, particularly if safety devices such as circuit breakers are not properly operating. It is recommended that you contact the manufacturer regarding proper installation, or even hire an electrical contractor to properly install it for you.

  • Be sure your hands are dry and that you are not standing in water before touching the generator.
  • Never plug your generator into a wall outlet.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for properly grounding your generator to help avoid electrical shock.
  • Plug appliances directly into the generator using manufacturer-specified cords or three-pronged extension cords with the proper amperage rating for the intended use.
  • Be aware that portable generators become hot while running and remain hot for a significant amount of time after they are shut down, creating a potential fire or burn hazard.

Never Operate a Generator Indoors

Generators should never be operated indoors under any circumstances.  This includes never operating a generator in a garage or basement, or near windows, vents or doors. Your generator should be kept a safe distance from the exterior of your home or business. A minimum distance of 25 feet is recommended; however, you should check your local city or county ordinances and the manufacturer’s recommended practices for additional information. Be sure to take your neighbor’s or neighboring businesses’ windows, vents and doors into account when positioning your generator. The exhaust from a generator can build up carbon monoxide (CO) – a colorless, odorless, toxic gas – that can cause severe illness or even death.

  • Maintain a clear space of three to four feet on all sides and above the generator to allow for proper ventilation.
  • Install carbon monoxide (CO) alarms to help safeguard your home or business.  These alarms come in various forms–battery-operated, plug-in, or even hard-wired units.   Plug-in and hard-wired units typically have battery backups. Be sure to routinely test the alarms, and replace batteries as recommended by the manufacturer.

Refueling Your Generator

You should always use caution when refueling your portable generator to prevent skin burns or fires. Follow these safety tips to ensure you properly refuel your generator:

  • Do not try to refuel a generator while it is running.
  • Make sure all generator fuels are stored and transported in approved containers.
  • Fuels should not be stored in or near your
  • house or business. They should be stored in a separate, well-ventilated area or in an approved flammable liquids storage cabinet.
  • Shut down your generator and allow it to cool completely before refueling. Gasoline, kerosene or other fuels used to run generators can ignite if spilled on hot engine parts.
  • Do not smoke around fuel containers or while refueling your generator.
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Understanding Water Damage in Sarasota

When you consider the possibility of water damaging your property and your home, you might come up with an image of a severe weather event such as a hurricane, monsoon-like rain or other natural disaster. The sad reality is that water damage  caused by ordinary household appliances which have failed might be just as costly and  as a severe weather event!

     Looking at damage claims information from the Insurance Industry Institute, problems caused annually by damage from water  represent billions of dollars in property losses to renters and homeowners. Water is also responsible for causing approximately 25 percent of all claims turned in as property insurance claims. In fact, information from the Travelers Insurance Company as reflected by data from its Claim records  shows that water is ten times more likely than fire to cause damage to your home.

     But how can you have “drills” to keep leaking water from catching you by surprise? Luckily,, there are some simple steps that you can take to help prevent damage from water seeping from various innocent-looking appliances, and further help you protect your home. It is important to understand some of the potential sources of this unexpected and unforeseen water. Damage can be caused by water unexpectedly leaking from various sources:  heating along your baseboards, recepticles that fail to catch or drain condensation from an indoor air conditioning unit, and even poorly functioning water heaters. Other culprits guilty of leaking water are hoses attached to washing machines, and all models of basic standard household plumbing installations, and bathroom plumbing fixtures.

     These household items rarely broadcast to their humans that they are going to leak; the evidence appears after the leak has already started. Once the leak begins and becomes noticeable, the damage has already occurred. Because of this uncertainty, it is  important to establish a way to check the disaster – makers according to a regular schedule with check dates spread throughout the year. Keep a simple calendar to organize your periodic checks.

     The following simple steps offered below can help you identify disaster before it hits and can protect your home from the most frequent causes of water damage:

  • First, know how to cut off your entire water supply. You need to know where the main water supply and cut off devices are  located in case of emergency.
  • If you plan to be away from home for a lengthy period of time, shut off the water supply and drain the pipes of any residual water left in them. During the heating season, if you are in an older home, determine whether your home is heated by an older steam heating system. If so, consult with your heating professional to determine if it is safe to turn off the water supply for your particular heating system. Also, if your home is protected by a fire sprinkler system, do not turn off the water to this system. However, your home needs to  maintain sufficient heat to prevent a freeze-up in your sprinkler system or the pipes connected to the sprinkler system could easily burst within the walls and ceilings concealing them.
  • Consider having your air conditioning system inspected regularly by an HVAC professional. Review the state of the drain lines annually and clean them if they are clogged.
  • Inspect water heaters, showers, tubs, toilets, sinks and dishwashers annually, and have them repaired if there are any signs of leaks or corrosion. Those sogns point to escaping water! Whenever possible, install water heaters in areas that already have floor drains to minimize water damage if leaks should occur.
  • Check any caulking around bathroom fixture, including showers, bathtubs, sinks and toilet bases, to be sure none of it is loose, and make repairs as needed.
  • If your refrigerator has an ice machine or water dispenser, the hose between the wall and the refrigerator should be made of braided copper, which has greater cracking and corrosion resistance.
  • Check pipes for cracks and leaks. Have any visible pipe damage fixed immediately to prevent more costly repairs in the future.
  • Check appliance hoses and plumbing fittings for breakage, crimping or bending. Be sure that the hoses are not so old that they have become brittle; brittle hoses can crack and allow water to seep out.
  • If you are unfamiliar with any of this or suspect that you might have a problem, you can probably have your home reviewed by a local home inspector. For a small professional fee, that inspector can run through this checklist, isolate any potential repairs, and give you peace of mind.
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Preparing your Sarasota home for a summer vacation

There you are, near dusk sun low and the soft rumble of waves whispers “shhh“, then crashing into the hush of your mind come the questions, ‘are the windows locked, is that old ham still in the ‘fridge, oh no – did the house key get moved ?” and there goes serenity.  The following is a checklist created to helpfully give you a guide to verify everything was done and more than anything – peace of mind.
1.  Turning off every electrical appliance and unplugging them will protect from any storm surges and save money too.
2  Both practical and necessary (unless the smell of rotting food is your thing), cleaning the refrigerator for perishables and taking the garbage out will also limit the chance of bugs.
3.  Don’t feel stupid or paranoid for double and triple checking the locks.  The idea is not to invite criminals.
4.  Contact any normal delivery people, such as paper delivery or mail service to have them held until certain date or pickup arrangements with a neighbor may also suffice.
5.  An unkempt yard be it leaves, snow or mowing is a tell tale sign of an empty home, and makes for a bigger bulls-eye.  So in addition to the practical reasons having someone take care of exterior housekeeping is worth consideration.
6.  Perhaps one of the most important and effective steps you can take to ensure peace of mind on the vacation is to have an extra set of trusted eyes.  Having someone you can trust and depend on to look over home sweet home is priceless.
7.  If it can be avoided at all cost, do not leave a house key hidden outside.  Then carries even greater urgency if you will be on vacation for any length of time.
8.  Much like yard maintenance, if the capability to set timers for interior lights it creates a great deterrent and the image that this home is presently occupied.
9.  While turning off all electrical appliances, all electrical machines such as televisions and computers should also be shut down and unplugged.  A checklist for all the machines and appliances in your home can be a good way to ensure yourself that everything was done.
10.  Many homes today have alarm systems and companies that back them.  Advising these security persons and or the local police that there will be an extended absence at your residence provides another layer of protection – just in case.
11.  High target and small valuables can be stored in a safe-deposit box, this not only provides theft protection but also the protection from losing a valuable necklace or ring on vacation due to accident or theft as well.
12.  Don’t forget those furry, little spoiled extensions of the family that we love will need to be cared for also, so contacting a service or friend needs to be checked of the list too.
13.  Checklist is done.  Car and bags packed, and the lights are off and then comes that sigh of relief.  The next three weeks are going to be heaven sent!  You grab that checklist, glance it once and – Wait!  That’s right, forget to set the thermostat, 55 degrees seems about the optimum temperature for too many reasons to go into now…there’s a vacation waiting.

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