Servicing DC, MD & VA

Letter From Our President

March 7th, 2014 | Comments Off on Letter From Our President | Posted in Misc

Dear Clients & Friends,

If you’d like individual health coverage beginning January 1, 2014, be sure to enroll by December 23, 2013. If you live in MD or VA you can purchase coverage on or off the exchange but in DC you must buy health coverage on the exchange.

Maryland Health Connection http://www.marylandhealthconnection.gov/

Virginia – Federal Exchange https://www.healthcare.gov

DC Health Link https://dchealthlink.com/

To get an ACA-compliant Individual (or Family) Medical Plan quote CLICK HERE. Open enrollment runs through March 31, 2014. If you have any questions or need help, please give us a call.

Don’t forget about our free mobile app that makes working with Hodge, Hart & Schleifer, Inc. easier than ever. Now you can:

  • Create a home inventory record that helps provide proof of ownership for your personal property when filing an insurance claim.
  • Document and report an accident right from the scene by collecting photos, contact info and other notes.
  • Track news headlines and timely tips that could affect your insurance options.
  • Contact us with questions or suggestions with the push of a button.

Download the Trusted Choice® Mobile App now.


We strive to “WOW” you with the service we provide, if you have any recommendations or complaints we would appreciate hearing from you. Please don’t hesitate to call us at 240-644-6000.


David F. Hodge, MBA, CPCU
Pres. & CEO
Hodge, Hart & Schleifer, Inc.
P.S.- Thank you for your business.

Hedda’s Hints

March 5th, 2014 | Comments Off on Hedda’s Hints | Posted in Hedda's Hints

What About Discounts?

Various insurance companies not only have a variety of coverage types and exclusions, but they also provide various discounts that can help you save on your premiums. We can work with you to find out what discounts are available, and how those discounts would affect the quotes you receive. Some of the more common discounts available include:

  • Safety discounts for having fire or burglar alarms installed in the home
  • A senior discount for being above a certain age
  • A discount for having great credit
  • “Claims-free” discount for not filing a claim over a number of years
  • Discount for being the first or original owner of the home
  • Multi-policy discount for having home and auto insurance with the same company
  • Continuous Insurance
  • Good Payer
  • Early Quote Discount
  • Hybrid/Electric Vehicle
  • Multi-Car
  • New Car
  • Anti-theft/ Anti-lock
  • Safe Driver
  • Driver Training
  • Good Student
  • Home Ownership
  • Paid in Full
  • Student away at School

We will help you decide which discounts with which company gives you the best policy for the best price.

Auto Insurance & Potholes

March 5th, 2014 | Comments Off on Auto Insurance & Potholes | Posted in Misc

Does My Auto Insurance Cover Damage Caused By Potholes?

shutterstock_65421094The good news is, yes, pothole damage is usually covered—providing you have collision coverage. Collision coverage, an optional portion of a standard auto insurance policy, covers damage to a car resulting from a collision with an object (e.g., a pothole, lamp post or guard rail), another car or as the result of flipping over. However, it does not cover wear and tear to a car or its tires due to bad road conditions.

Collision coverage is generally sold with a deductible—the higher your deductible, the lower your premium. Your collision coverage will reimburse you for the costs of repairing your car, minus the deductible.

Collision insurance is different from comprehensive insurance, which is also an optional coverage. Comprehensive coverage reimburses drivers for theft, vandalism, flooding and damage from fallen objects, such as trees.

A driver who hits another car, or a pedestrian, due to a pothole also will be covered by liability insurance, which is required to drive legally in every U.S. state except New Hampshire. Liability coverage applies to injuries that you, the policyholder or designated driver, cause to someone else.

Facts and Figures

Most motorists carry collision coverage on their vehicles. Indeed, 71 percent of U.S. drivers had collision coverage as of 2011, the most recent year for which the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has data.

The NAIC found that 76 percent of all drivers had comprehensive coverage in 2011.

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One-Minute Office Workout

March 5th, 2014 | Comments Off on One-Minute Office Workout | Posted in Family Health & Safety

Move those muscles in 60 seconds

One-Minute Office WorkoutHave you ever used the excuse “I just don’t have the time to exercise”? Well, that simply won’t work any longer… all you need is one minute to feel revived, refreshed and full of energy. Plus, you can do all of this in your cubicle or office.

  • Open and close your hands with your arms (a) extended in front of you (b) over your head and (c) to your side. Repeat each motion three times.
  • Stand behind your desk chair and raise your heels for five seconds. Then, lower your feet and repeat this motion five times.
  • Place your arm across your chest and press gently on your elbow. Hold this position for five seconds while turning your head to the opposite direction. Repeat on the other side.
  • Shift your weight forward, keep your knee over your ankle and your heels flat on the floor. Hold this lunge position for five seconds and then repeat this motion 10 times. Repeat with the other leg.
  • Stand with your legs slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Slowly squat down and hold this position for five seconds. Then, bring your body back up to standing position. Repeat this position 10 times.
  • Stand up straight and then bend down and touch your toes.
  • March in place for 30 seconds while rolling your shoulders forward and backward.
  • Do 10 jumping jacks.
  • Make sure that your chair is stable and then place your hands next to hips.  Move your hips in front of the chair and bend your elbows while lowering your body until your elbows are at 90 degrees. Repeat this dipping motion 10 times.
  • Hold a water bottle in your right hand with your elbow bent and your arm extended overhead. Repeat on the other side.
  • Hold a water bottle in your right hand and with your abs in and spine straight. Slowly curl the bottle towards your shoulder.  Repeat with the other arm.


Now that you’re done with your mini workout, grab a refreshing glass of water. If you need to go to another floor to do so, take the stairs instead of the elevator to burn some additional calories.

Managing Stress

March 5th, 2014 | Comments Off on Managing Stress | Posted in Personal Tips, Trips & Traps

… as a Working Parent

Making the best of both worlds

Working ParentMany parents also hold full- or part-time jobs. However, being a parent on its own is one of the hardest jobs anyone could take on. Couple that with the stress of a career and it can be too much for anyone.

It’s not uncommon to experience guilt and frustration trying to balance both work and family obligations and end up focusing on the things you can’t do or what you’re missing out on. The key to managing both worlds is focusing on the things that you can accomplish and making the most of the time you have at work, with your family and on your own.

Get and Stay Organized

  • Keep your home and office organized. That way, you won’t have to waste time looking for important files or sorting through junk mail.
  • Keep everything in its assigned place so you know where to find exactly what you need when you need it.

Create a Plan

  • Use a day planner where you can keep track of both work and home obligations in the same place so you don’t overcommit yourself.
  • Make a list of what you want to accomplish each month and then break those tasks down by week or even by day. If you keep up with the schedule, you will be less stressed.
  • Leave a little buffer time in your schedule in case your child care provider cancels, your children get sick or you have to work late.

Work with Your Family

  • If you bring work home, make sure your home office is kid-proof by keeping important papers out of reach and placing child-safe latches on your desk drawers.
  • Set up an area in your home office for your children to do “work” with you, such as coloring or doing puzzles.
  • Communicate with your partner about what you need to support you, and be supportive back. Remind your partner how grateful you are for him or her.

Break Out of the 9-to-5

  • If you are able to set your own schedule, prioritize the tasks that you must accomplish during peak working hours and complete other tasks in the early morning or later in the evening when your children are sleeping.


Remain One Step Ahead

  • Take a few minutes out of your evening to set out school clothes, make your children’s lunches and set up the coffeepot. Your mornings will be less chaotic.
  • Get up before your children to exercise, take a shower and get some work done.

Make Time for You

  • Set aside some time each day that is devoted to you. Use this time to relax or do something you’ve been meaning to do, even if it is just for a few minutes.

Stay Safe

March 5th, 2014 | Comments Off on Stay Safe | Posted in Live Well, Work Well

Stay Safe During Spring Weather Hazards

shutterstock_81366340From hail and mudslides to thunderstorms and tornadoes, severe weather takes many different forms in the spring months. By knowing the extent of hazardous weather, you will be able to prepare yourself and protect your family and property.

Having a storm readiness plan in place saves valuable time if severe weather strikes. Advance planning may even limit the damage caused by harsh weather. Take the opportunity now to choose the best shelter in your home, and make sure your family knows where it is. Choose a meeting place to gather after the storm to ensure that everyone is safe and accounted for.

While severe weather can strike at any time, the following types of weather hazards become more prevalent during spring:

1. Floods. Floods are among the most frequent and costly natural disasters in terms of human hardship and economic loss. Most flooding occurs when the volume of water in a river or stream exceeds the capacity of the channel. In the spring, heavy rains and melting snow can greatly increase the risk of flooding. To assess your susceptibility to flooding, consult flood hazard maps for your community. If you live in a high-risk area,  consider elevating your furnace, water heater and electric panel. Install “check valves” to prevent flood water from backing up into the drains of your home and seal walls in your basement with waterproofing compounds.

2. Mudslides.  Mudslides develop when water rapidly accumulates in the ground and results in a surge of water-saturated rock, earth and debris. As with floods, the most important precaution you can take is to determine your susceptibility to mudslides. Consult a geotechnical expert (a registered professional

engineer with soils engineering expertise) for advice on reducing landslide problems and risks. Local authorities should be able to help you contact a geotechnical expert.

3. Tornados and High Winds. A tornado is a violently rotating column of air extending from the base of a thunderstorm down to the ground. While tornados have been reported in every state, in areas where tornados are frequent it’s important to know the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning. A tornado watch is issued when weather conditions favor the formation of tornadoes—for example, during a severe thunderstorm. A tornado warning is issued when a tornado funnel is sighted or indicated by weather radar, and you should take shelter immediately.

For all weather hazards, maintain an emergency pack with a battery-powered flashlight, a radio, tools for emergency repair, food supplies, a first-aid kit, blankets and extra clothing. Store important identification and insurance documents in a fire- and water-proof safe. Be sure to fill your car’s gas tank when severe weather is incoming. Planning ahead will help you be ready when severe weather hits.

View more Live Well, Work Well tips here.


March 5th, 2014 | Comments Off on Potholes | Posted in Personal Tips, Trips & Traps

Asphalt`s holes on roadbed.Winter is pothole season and this year, they are packing a powerful punch. After hitting a pothole, most drivers wonder, “Is my car OK?” While the tires and wheels can be visually inspected, there could be damage to the steering, suspension and alignment systems that you just can’t see. To help determine if hitting a pothole has damaged your vehicle, watch for the following warning signs provided by the Car Care Council.

  • Loss of control, swaying when making routine turns, bottoming out on city streets or bouncing excessively on rough roads. These are indicators that the steering and suspension may have been damaged. The steering and suspension are key safety-related systems. Together, they largely determine your car’s ride and handling. Key components are shocks and/or struts, the steering knuckle, ball joints, the steering rack/box, bearings, seals and hub units and tie rod ends.
  • Pulling in one direction, instead of maintaining a straight path, and uneven tire wear. These symptoms mean there’s an alignment problem. Proper wheel alignment is important for the lifespan of tires and helps ensure safe handling.
  • Low tire pressure, bulges or blisters on the sidewalls, or dents in the rim. These problems will be visible and should be checked out as soon as possible as tires are the critical connection between your car and the road in all sorts of driving conditions.

“Snow, cold temperatures and rainfall can lead to potholes, and with the wintery weather that has covered most of the country this year, navigating the streets could be difficult,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “If you’ve hit a pothole and suspect that there may be damage to the tires, wheels, steering and suspension or wheel alignment, it’s worth having a professional technician check out the car and make any necessary repairs.”

As a general rule of thumb, steering and suspension systems should be checked at least once a year and wheels should be aligned at the same interval. Motorists who live in areas where potholes are common should be prepared to have these systems checked more frequently.

Potholes occur during the winter and spring months, when water permeates the pavement – usually through a crack from wear and tear of traffic – and softens the soil beneath it, creating a depression in the surface of the street. Many potholes appear during winter and spring months because of freeze-thaw cycles, which accelerate the process. Potholes can also be prevalent in areas with excessive rainfall and flooding.

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Safeguard from Poisoning Risks

March 5th, 2014 | Comments Off on Safeguard from Poisoning Risks | Posted in Personal Tips, Trips & Traps

While kids getting into bottles of pain medicine remains a leading cause of poisonings, new and different serious risks have emerged.

Laundry_PacketsNew single-load liquid laundry packets look like candy, toys or teethers, but they are dangerous for children. This isn’t the liquid laundry detergent from your childhood. These packets are filled with highly concentrated, toxic chemicals. Wet hands, water and saliva can quickly dissolve these packets, releasing the chemicals.

In 2012, CPSC staff learned of more than 500 incidents involving children and adults who were injured by these packets. If you use these packets in your home, always handle them with dry hands and keep them out of sight and reach of children. CPSC is encouraged that the manufacturers of laundry packets are developing improved warning labels, making their product packaging less attractive to children, and have committed to implement a comprehensive consumer awareness campaign. However, CPSC seeks additional design changes to all types of packages containing laundry packets that will make individual packets less accessible to children. You should start seeing safety alerts in stores soon that alert you to important laundry packet safety concerns.

coin- or button-sized batteriesIf you have any type of electronics in your home, you likely have coin- or button-sized batteries. They are in remote controls, electronic games, toys, musical cards, hearing aids and other common electronic products. These small batteries pack a powerful —and deadly—punch. These batteries can cause life-threatening chemical burns inside the body in as little as two hours. Incidents often involve children younger than 4 and senior adults. Even completely dead batteries have enough residual power left in them to cause serious injuries.

While improvements are in the works to prevent people from suffering burn injuries if they ingest a battery, please take immediate steps to safeguard your children right now by doing the following:

  • Check your electronics’ battery compartments and tighten with a screw.
  • For battery compartments that do not use a screw, try securing them with strong tape.
  • Put any item with an unsecured button battery up and out of both the sight and reach of a child.
  • When the batteries die, make sure to throw them out in a way that children can’t retrieve them.
  • Also, make sure to buy the correct-size replacement battery so you don’t have any batteries lying around that you don’t need.
  • Finally, don’t store a remote control on top of un-anchored televisions or furniture. That creates a different, significant hazard of TV tipovers for your child.

CPSC is encouraged that the coin and button cell industry is developing more secure packaging and taking additional steps to try to keep the products away from young children. However, CPSC is looking to see design changes that eliminate the serious chemical burn injuries that often occur upon ingestion.

Here are other poison prevention tips, which can help you provide a safe environment for your children to explore.

  1. Keep medicines and household chemicals in their original, child-resistant containers.
  2. Store potentially hazardous substances up and out of a child’s sight and reach.
  3. Keep the national Poison Help Line number, 800-222-1222, handy in case of a poison emergency.
  4. When hazardous products are in use, never let young children out of your sight, even if it means you must take them along when answering the phone or doorbell.
  5. Leave the original labels on all products, and read the labels before using the products.
  6. Always leave the light on when giving or taking medicine so you can see that you are administering the proper medicine, and be sure to check the dosage every time.
  7. Avoid taking medicine in front of children. Refer to medicine as “medicine,” not “candy.”
  8. Clean out the medicine cabinet periodically and safely dispose of unneeded and outdated medicines.
  9. Do not put decorative lamps and candles that contain lamp oil where children can reach them. Lamp oil can be very toxic if ingested by children.

If you have a poison emergency, call the national Poison Help Line at (800) 222-1222.

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Women and Life Insurance

March 5th, 2014 | Comments Off on Women and Life Insurance | Posted in Personal Tips, Trips & Traps

Women contribute to their families’ economic well-being whether working outside or inside the home. Yet many have yet to realize that their purchase of a life insurance policy would have a significant impact on the quality of their family’s lifestyle if they were to die, says the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I).

According to a national poll, 43 percent of adult women have no life insurance. Among those that are insured, many are severely underinsured, carrying roughly one-fourth of the amount that would likely be needed by their life insurance policies’ beneficiaries. Indeed, women who are a family’s primary breadwinner carry 31 percent less life insurance than their male counterparts, even as a growing number of women earn as much, if not more, than their husbands.

In 2007, 25.9 percent of wives were earning more than their husbands in households where both spouses work, according to the most recent data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s up from 17.8 percent two decades earlier.

“Ironically, 100 years ago women weren’t even able to buy life insurance,” said Loretta Worters, vice president with the I.I.I. “Today, women can protect their finances, but they aren’t buying the coverage or, if they are, it isn’t enough.”

Many financial experts consider life insurance to be the cornerstone of sound financial planning. It can be an important tool in the following situations:

  1. Replace income for dependents
    If people depend on your income, life insurance can replace that income for them if you die. The most commonly recognized cases are parents with young children. However, this can also apply to couples in which the survivor would be financially stricken by the income lost through the death of a partner and to dependent adults, such as parents, siblings or adult children who continue to rely on you financially. Insurance to replace your income can be especially useful if the government- or employer-sponsored benefits of your surviving spouse or domestic partner will be reduced after your death.

  2. Pay final expenses
    Life insurance can pay your funeral and burial costs, probate and other estate administration costs, debts and medical expenses not covered by health insurance.

  3. Create an inheritance for your heirs
    Even if you have no other assets to pass on to your heirs, you can create an inheritance by buying a life insurance policy and naming them as beneficiaries.

  4. Pay federal and state estate taxes
    Life insurance benefits can pay estate taxes so that your heirs will not have to liquidate other assets or take a smaller inheritance. Changes in the federal estate tax rules will likely lessen the impact of this “death” tax on some people, but some states are offsetting those federal decreases with increases in their state-level estate taxes.

  5. Make significant charitable contributions
    By making a charity the beneficiary of your life insurance policy, you make a much larger contribution than if you donate the cash equivalent of the policy’s premiums.

  6. Create a source of savings
    Some types of life insurance create a cash value that, if not paid out as a death benefit, can be borrowed or withdrawn on the policyholder’s request. Since most people make paying their life insurance policy premiums a high priority, buying a cash-value type policy can create a kind of forced savings plan. Furthermore, the interest credited is tax deferred (and tax exempt if the money is paid as a death claim).

  7. Replace services of a primary caregiver. Managing the house, caring for the kids and in many cases caring for elderly parents, can be costly, and a life insurance policy’s proceeds, if substantial enough, can continue to pay caregiver-related expenses for years.

    The same concept applies to stay-at-home moms. While they aren’t bringing home a salary, they have tremendous economic value, which often goes unnoticed in terms of the support they give to their family, the I.I.I. noted.

“What would happen to the family if the Mom weren’t around? Who would manage the day to day housekeeping, the laundry, driving kids to and from their sports activities?” said Worters. “It would cost a small fortune to even try to replicate that care. A life insurance policy can help cover those expenses.”

Single women with no dependents may want to consider life insurance as well. Depending on the type of life insurance purchased, a policy can also be a forced savings vehicle. Women are, as a group, living longer than ever before, and the need for sufficient retirement income is crucial. A cash value life insurance policy, for example, can help accumulate funds on a tax-advantaged basis to supplement other retirement income.

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