McCurdy Group - Insurance and Financial Consultants

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Snow Blower Safety

It’s just the beginning of the snow season and we New Englanders must prepare to take on Old Man Winter. Here are some important things to remember when using a snow blower:
  • Turn it OFF!
  • Disengage clutch.
  • Wait five seconds after shutting machine off to allow impeller blades to stop rotating.
  • ALWAYS use a stick or broom handle to clear impacted snow.
  • NEVER put your hand down chute or around blades.
  • Keep all shields in place. DO NOT REMOVE the safety devices on the machine.
  • Keep hands and feet away from all moving parts.
  • Keep a clear head, concentrate, and slow down.
  • DO NOT DRINK before using your snow blower!
According to the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, hundreds of people are maimed or have amputations of their finger or hands each year due to improperly handling snow blowers. Remember that snow blowers can be dangerous if not handled properly so take your time and play it safe.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Winter Travel Safety Tips

Winter in New England can be beautiful (depending on who you ask) but it can also be very dangerous. Here are some tips that you should follow before you head out in the winter weather:

  • Keep your gas tank full to avoid running out of gas and also to prevent ice in the gas tank or fuel lines.
  • If you're traveling to an unfamiliar place, try to avoid traveling alone if at all possible.
  • Let someone know where you’re going, which route you’ll be taking, and what time you expect to arrive.
  • Winterize your car BEFORE bad weather arrives, preferably in the fall to avoid any surprise storms (remember October 2011?) and to beat the rush. Make sure that your tires always have good traction, no matter what the season.
  • Have an auto safety kit in all cars.  Purchase a ready-made kit or make your own.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

When is the Speed Limit NOT the Speed Limit?

Did you know that even though a speed limit is posted, you could actually get a speeding ticket if you follow that limit? You ask yourself “how can that be?” The answer to that question is that the speed limits that are posted are for when driving conditions are favorable and there are no obstructions or hazards on the road. It's important to remember that if the weather and visibility are bad and/or road conditions are hazardous due to construction, traffic, weather conditions, bicyclists and pedestrians, you need to adjust your speeds accordingly. If you drive 40 mph in a heavy rainstorm on a highway with a speed limit of 50 mph, you can get a ticket for driving too fast. Always be patient and mindful of your speed when the road conditions are not favorable to not only avoid a speeding ticket but also for everyone’s safety.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Clean Your Gutters!

Here’s some advice from Ed Nowack, president of JEES in Charlton, MA.

With the onset of winter and below-freezing temperatures, one area of trouble that homeowners often overlook is gutters. If a gutter is not cleaned properly and becomes plugged by leaves and pine needles, any water that remains in the gutters can freeze. The weight of the ice in the gutters can caused the gutters to pull away from the exterior of the house causing damage to both the gutters and the exterior of the house. Any perforations in the home’s exterior can then allow precipitation to enter the home. The end result can be water damage and possibly associated mold contamination inside the exterior wall. 

The other issued with plugged gutters and the ice build-up is ice dam damage. When the gutters are filled with ice, snowfall can more readily build-up on the edge of the roof. Any snow melt on the edge of the roof tends to “dam-up” when the water hits the full gutters instead of travelling down the gutter and away from the home. With several freeze/thaw cycles, this can cause ice dams to form on the roof. The weight of the ice can cause damage to the shingles, attic sheathing and ice shield membrane. This damage will allow water to enter the attic space once the ice dam melts causing water damage and the likely formation of mold growth.
Be proactive and have your gutters cleaned prior to the start of December and/or the first snow fall.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Driving Defensively

You may be a skilled driver but at one point or another you may run into equipment failures, bad weather, inexperienced drivers, unpredictable pedestrians, and drivers who ignore traffic laws. Here are some tips from the Registry of Motor Vehicles that could save you and your family’s lives.

To prepare for unpredictable events, you should always drive defensively.
• Always have clear visibility in front and around your vehicle.  Clean your windows and remove all snow.
• Stay alert and prepared for the unexpected.
• Keep a safe distance around your vehicle.
• Drive at the right speed and know when to slow down and stop.
• Always wear your safety belt.
• Do not drive if you have been drinking, are on medication, or are very tired.
• Keep your vehicle in good working order.
• Obey the rules of the road and give the right-of-way when appropriate.

Always look ahead of and around you, and check your mirrors often. Be aware of road
conditions and possible hazards in front, to the sides, and behind you.

• Look at everything in front of you. Look for vehicles stopping and watch for people
getting in or out of parked vehicles. Pay close attention to pedestrians or bicyclists
sharing the road with you.
• Expect mistakes from other drivers.
• Watch for back-up lights of vehicles ahead of you.
• Pay close attention to crosswalks. Don’t rely on traffic signals. Other drivers, bicyclists,
and pedestrians may ignore traffic signals.
• Always pay close attention near playgrounds, schoolyards, and shopping centers.
Children, pedestrians, and bicyclists may be hidden from sight.
• A big part of driving defensively is giving the right-of-way to prevent unsafe traffic situations.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Does My Homeowner’s Policy Cover My Housekeeper, Nanny or Home Health Aide?

If you have a housekeeper, nanny or any kind of Home Health Aide who cares for an ill family member coming to work at your home, there are some things you need to know. Your homeowner’s policy does not cover employees so you should make sure that the housekeeper, nanny or aide provide you with some proof that they are bonded and have Worker’s Compensation insurance - or you should provide the Worker’s Compensation coverage yourself. Domestic employees get hurt or steal from their employers more than you think and you need to protect yourself. If you decide against getting the coverage for your employees, you may want to hire someone who has their own coverage to avoid costly issues should a claim occur.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Those Beautiful Autumn Leaves can be Dangerous

Autumn is here and the leaves are brilliant, but did you know that those same leaves can be dangerous? Leaves pile up on the road and can cause the roads to become slippery, causing your tires to lose traction. When the temperature dips below freezing, the leaves can be as dangerous as driving on icy roads. Here are some tips for safe autumn driving:
o       Slow down if you are driving on a road covered with leaves, especially when driving around turns.
o       Allow yourself plenty of room to stop in an emergency. Keep a greater distance between you and the car in front of you.
o       Leaves make it difficult to see potholes and bumps in the road.  Stay alert!
o       A pile of leaves raked to the side of the road is an inviting place for a child. Children enjoy jumping into the leaf piles or burrowing down into them and hiding. Never drive through a leaf pile. Use caution going around turns and where children are playing.
o       Keep your windshield leaf -free to avoid wet leaves getting stuck under the windshield wiper blades.
o       In order to avoid the possibility of a fire hazard from the exhaust system or catalytic converter, never park your vehicle over a pile of leaves.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Make Sure You Give Correct Information to Your Insurance Agent

When you get your new or renewal auto policy, do you look through it to make sure that all the information is correct? You should. Simple things like having the wrong address for your garaging (where do you sleep at night?) or missing an operator could lead to trouble down the road if you have a claim. Even if you think that your insurance premium may increase if you correctly list that you live in Springfield as opposed to Holland, make sure the correct information is reflected on your policy.  And verify that the person with the high number of points is not “accidentally” forgotten.  It doesn’t pay to save a little on your premiums if you have a claim which gets denied because the information on your policy is incorrect. If you have a new driver, make sure that you add them to your policy as soon as you can get to your phone. The most common reasons for denial of claims are because the policy holder neglected to give the correct location of garaging or listing an inexperienced operator.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Fire Extinguisher Safety

A portable fire extinguisher is great to have in every home to prevent a house fire from spreading and causing devastating damage.  But they have limitations that all consumers need to be aware of. The standard, all purpose fire extinguisher is meant for small fires that are confined to a small area and not spreading rapidly, such as a fire in a waste basket.  If a fire is growing quickly, it’s safest for the residents to get out of the house immediately and call 911 and not try to battle the fire themselves.

All homes should have an all purpose extinguisher that is light enough for the users to be able to use easily. Also make sure that the extinguisher carries the label of an independent testing laboratory to make sure that it’s up to code. Make sure to read the instructions before you have a fire so that you’re familiar with how to use it. Local fire departments and fire equipment distributors offer demonstrations on how to use fire extinguishers but if that isn’t feasible, remember the word PASS:

  - Pull the pin. Hold the extinguisher with the nozzle
    pointing away from you, and release the locking
  - Aim low. Point the extinguisher at the base of the fire.
  - Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.
  - Sweep the nozzle from side-to-side.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wood and Pellet Stove Safety

The heating season is here and it’s time to think about wood and pellet stove safety. Woodstove and pellet stoves need to be cleaned every year or when there’s 1/4” creosote buildup on the chimney walls. The more often you use the stove, the more often you’ll have to clean it. Make sure to clean the ash and dispose of it in a fire-proof container before each use. Also be aware of the fuel limitations of your stove. Most wood stoves are meant to burn wood only. Do not burn driftwood, trash, treated wood, artificial logs, or any product containing zinc, sulfur, lead, or plastics as they will damage the catalytic combustor. Burning trash in a wood stove is dangerous for its potential to start a chimney fire, and also because the trash could contain plastics or other elements which emit harmful gases.

If you’re thinking about installing a wood or pellet stove for the first time, make sure to have a professional install it.  Also make sure that it’s inspected and you get proof of that inspection certifying that the stove is up to code and safe for your family. If you would like more information on this matter, go to the National Ag Safety Database at

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Think twice before you Switch!

 We hear it all the time on the radio and television, “Big savings on your auto and home insurance.”  In these difficult economic times, we’re all looking for ways to save money and insurance is a place to start.  But there are some things that we need to consider… Just because we can get a lower rate with another carrie doesn’t mean that changing companies is a good idea.  Do you have the same coverages or did the new company give you lower limits of insurance?  We also need to consider company loyalty because the longer you are with a particular company, the more likely you are to receive a credit for being with them a long time. And if you’ve been with one company for years, they are more likely to stay on your policy if you’ve had a loss or two (remember those tornadoes, snow storms, and ice storms that we had back-to–back in our area a few years ago?). If you are considering changing insurance companies, please discuss your concerns with your Insurance Agent before you make any changes that could affect your future.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Should I be Concerned about Insuring my Home-Based Business?

The answer is absolutely yes. The homeowner’s policy provides minimal coverage, if any, for businesses in the home. Do you have a home-based business that provides services such as daycare and/or have computers, products, supplies, etc. in your home? Something as innocent as consulting from your home puts you at risk for an uncovered loss. You may say “No one ever comes to my house, it’s just clerical work”.  What about the person who “stops by” just to pick up paperwork and gets injured?  There will be no coverage provided from your homeowner’s policy because the loss was due to your business. If you rent out your garage to someone to fix cars in, or if you have your carpenter’s shop in the garage and there’s a fire, the homeowner’s policy may not cover the loss because it was used for business. A simple endorsement to your homeowner’s policy MAY be all it takes to be covered correctly. If you have any doubts or concerns about your home based business and how it may affect your coverage, please contact your Insurance Agent to make sure that you have the proper coverage to protect you, your customers and your family.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Have you paid off your home or auto?

If you’ve paid off your mortgage or car loan, did you know that you should inform your insurance agent? Most people don’t know to do that until they have a claim and have to deal with the insurance company and bank to rectify the situation. If you have a loss and the bank is still listed on your home or auto policy, the claim check has to be written out to you AND the bank which leads to more work for you at a time that you don’t need the extra hassle. Once you receive the documentation that you have paid off the bank loan, get a copy to your Insurance Agent so that they can have the bank removed from your policy to avoid having to deal with this at the time of a claim.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Cyber Bullying

How often do we hear on the news of yet another case of cyber bullying? With all the technology at our finger tips, we are able to reach more people than ever before - which is a good thing.  But bullying is now so much more than harassing or beating someone else up in the school yard or neighborhood. Now people can bully others by logging onto Facebook, sending emails, using chat rooms, blogs and gaming sites, or posting cell phone photos.  As parents, we need to take measures to protect our children from being bullied and also from bullying others. How can we do that?

  • Make sure that we are aware of the sites that our children are on and check their history periodically
  • Keep the lines of communication open so that your children will feel comfortable coming to you if they’re struggling with bullying
  • Know your children’s friends
  • Discuss with your children the importance of not sharing their private information with others
  • Beware of the time spent on the internet
There are plenty of resources that you can turn to for more information and help. Go to The Center for Disease Control’s website at or simply Google “cyber bullying” and you will find endless information on how to prevent cyber bullying. Also speak to your Insurance Agent to discuss Personal Injury Protection coverage which will provide protection if your child is accused of bullying.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Insurance Coverage for your Computer

Why should I have Special Coverage for my Laptop? Doesn’t my Homeowner’s policy cover it? Insurance agents hear these questions all the time. The basic Homeowner’s policy does not cover laptops that have been dropped, lost, or have had liquids spilled on them unless you have purchased special coverage for them. Let’s face it, how many times have you been working away to meet a deadline and are eating and drinking at the computer? How easy is it to knock over your coffee onto it because you get distracted or are frazzled? It’s quite easy actually. Or what about the students that carry their laptop around with them at school and put it down for a minute and walk away, forgetting that they have it – or drop it because their attention is elsewhere??? All of these situations are not covered on the standard homeowner’s policy. Please contact your Insurance Agent to discuss your options to have the coverages that you need so that you can have the peace of mind that you won’t have to be paying out of pocket for another laptop.