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Student-Driver Away Discount

January 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Discount & Coverage Claims

Do You Qualify?
Student-Driver Away Discounts help you save while they learn

collegestudentsYour child is away at school for the year and not using the family car regularly, so you may think it’s time to drop them from your auto insurance policy. That is certainly an option when your child leaves home, but the student-driver away discounts can be a better fit for your family than taking your child off the plan entirely.

Let’s see if you qualify for student-driver away discounts, why the discount is worth it and how much you’ll save.

Who Is a Student-Driver Away Discount For?
Most auto insurance carriers consider you eligible for a student-driver away discount if your child attends boarding school or college at least 100 miles from home and does not have regular access to a vehicle. Some may also require the student to be under 23 years of age.

Why You Should Get a Student-Driver Away Discount
While it sounds tempting to remove your child from your auto insurance plan while they are at school, there are significant reasons to consider the student-driver away discount instead:

  • Driving During Breaks: Your child will likely come home from school to visit, and while they’re back, they might borrow the family car. Having your child on your policy means they are automatically covered in the unlikely event of a car accident.
  • Financial Responsibility: If you still declare your child as a dependent, then you assume financial responsibility for them. This means that, legally, you are their financial provider, no matter how much pocket money they have on the side. This is important because if your uninsured child drives a vehicle and gets into an accident, you are financially responsible for that accident, even though you weren’t involved. Medical and legal costs can be substantially more than paying for a student-driver away discount.
  • Better Future Rates: Auto insurance companies often give discounts to new clients who were previously dependents on their parents’ policy. Other carriers sometimes charge new clients a higher fee for joining as a young driver without that experience. Keeping your student on your auto insurance plan now can give them a foot up later.

How Can You Validate Your Child for a Student-Driver Away Discount?
Most auto insurance carriers will require verification that your child is at school. Providing your carrier with the correct validation for a student-driver away discount can be very easy. Here are some common ways to prove eligibility:

  • School Address: Providing the address of your child’s boarding school or college to your insurance agent is usually enough verification for some carriers.
  • Current Class Schedule: Providing your child’s class schedule shows that your student is currently enrolled in school.

How Much Money Will You Save?
Student-driver away discount rates can depend on which carrier you have. In most cases, you will save between 10 percent and 30 percent on your auto insurance. Though it might seem like a hassle to keep your child on your policy when they do not drive frequently, it may be smart over the long run.

Secure Your Student-Driver Away Discount Today
With a student-driver away discount, you won’t break the bank, and you’ll help your child start on the path to their own insurance policy one day. As your independent auto insurance agent, we take it upon ourselves to make sure that you and your family can drive safely with the peace of mind that you’re getting the best rates possible. Contact us today to find out if you qualify for a student-driver away discount, as well as other auto insurance discounts.

Source: Hodge, Hart & Schleifer

Raising Deductibles

January 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Discount & Coverage Claims

to Lower Homeowners Insurance Premiums

keyinhandHome ownership is part of the American dream, and often, homes are the largest investment most people make during their lifetimes. When you have a large part of your finances tied up in your home, you want the most cost-effective yet serviceable homeowners insurance policy possible. For some, this means having the right deductible in place.

Full protection is important for any homeowner, but raising your homeowners insurance deductible can save you money. Changing your homeowners insurance policy to have a higher deductible can lead to a lower premium.

The Deductible Amount That Works for You
Typically, homeowners insurance deductibles begin at $250. Depending on your policy, your premium can be reduced by changing your deductible with general savings of:

  • Up to 15 percent for a $500 deductible
  • Up to 25 percent for a $1,000 deductible
  • Up to 30 percent for a $2,500 deductible
  • Up to 35 or more for a $5,000 deductible

While the additional discount savings for a very large deductible may look appealing, deductibles of more than $1,000 are not permissible with most mortgage companies. Check with your mortgage lender first, if you are considering a deductible in excess of $1,000. Of course, large deductibles mean you are on the hook for part of the repair or replacement cost should you need to file a claim. So, unless you have the cash on hand, a large deductible could be a drawback at claim time.

Claim Frequency and Homeowners Insurance Deductibles
Typically, insurance claims are made infrequently so the amount saved on monthly bills makes up for the additional amount of deductible needed for a claim. A higher deductible can be especially advantageous if you have a history of limited claims. For people that have a history of filing a large number of claims or those that live in high risk areas, an increased deductible may not provide savings over time.

Keeping an Emergency Fund to Cover Your Deductible
Larger deductibles can be advantageous, but you also agree to accept the financial obligation of having a higher deductible. Be sure you can afford to pay the amount of your deductible if needed. It is important to be prepared and have the finances available to cover the cost of your deductible if you have to file a claim.

Since you have to pay the cost of a deductible upfront before your coverage begins, an emergency fund can be helpful. The money you save by having a higher deductible can be put into a savings account or other safe easy-to-access place. If you ever need to file a claim, an emergency fund can eliminate financial strain. No one ever knows when something will happen and a claim will be needed. Having safeguards in place in the form of an emergency fund can bring peace of mind.

Other Homeowners Insurance Deductible Considerations
The price of homeowners insurance can vary with the deductible amount included in the policy. Deductibles vary depending on what kind of homeowners coverage you have and other factors. If you live in what is considered to be a disaster-prone region, certain forms of damage including, hail storms, windstorms, earthquakes may have a separate deductible.

Reviewing Your Homeowners Insurance Policy
One way to save money on your homeowners insurance is to carefully review the deductible amount on your policy. You can then evaluate the deductible amount you currently have to see what savings a lower deductible could provide.

Contact Hodge, Hart & Schleifer, Inc. today to discuss your personal situation and your options. We have been insuring homes in Maryland, D.C., and Virginia for more than 80 years. We can help you find the protection your need at a price you can afford. Call us today at 240-644-6000.

Source: Hodge, Hart & Schleifer

Credit Card Savings

January 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Live Well, Work Well

cashierTypical payment options are cash, credit or debit. Using debit or cash can help you stick to a budget because they limit your spending, but responsibly using a cash-back or rewards credit card can actually save you money.

With cash-back cards you earn cash when you use the card. Typically these cards give you 1 to 3 percent in reward money for the dollars you spend, but some may give you a higher percentage for certain categories of purchases.

Rewards credit cards allow you to accumulate points when you use your credit card. Points can be redeemed for a variety of items that may include gift cards, plane tickets or other deals depending on your credit card offer.

Although credit cards can be used to save money, remember to only use them if you know you can and will pay them off in full, or they will end up costing you extra. Here are a few tips to make sure your credit card works for you:

  • Don’t spend more just to earn cash back or reward points.
  • Pay your bill in full every month to avoid interest payments.
  • Label your cards with the purchase categories and rewards they offer.

Source: Live Well, Work Well – December 2014

Indoor Air Pollution

January 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Live Well, Work Well

carbon-monoxideThe mention of air pollution often brings to mind images of city streets packed with cars or a pollen-laden spring breeze. However, indoor air pollution can be as much of a problem as outdoor pollution. A few sources of indoor air pollution include the following:

  • Tobacco smoke
  • Mold, pollen and pet dander
  • Radon and carbon monoxide
  • Household products such as cleaners, paint thinners and glue

The effects of indoor air pollution can range from mild discomfort to the development of diseases such as respiratory ailments and cancer. Young children, the elderly and those with asthma or allergies may suffer the most from poor air quality. Combat indoor air pollution with these strategies:

  • Open windows for a few minutes every day to allow in fresh air, even during winter.
  • Vacuum and mop the floor rather than sweep.
  • Don’t allow smoking indoors.
  • Test for radon and install a carbon monoxide detector.
  • Replace your plug-in air freshener and artificially scented cleaners with fragrance-free and naturally scented products.

Source: Live Well, Work Well – December 2014

Unplugging for the Holidays

January 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Live Well, Work Well

shutterstock_140675734Constant connection to technology and personal mobile devices can be fun and helpful—think text messages and GPS—but being tethered to your smartphone, laptop or tablet can also increase stress, lead to reduced physical activity and decrease your ability to focus on the people around you. Less stress and more time to have fun with your family are a few of the benefits of unplugging. Here are a few tips to help you unplug

for the holidays (or at least reduce your screen time):

  • Leave your cellphone and laptop in another room, or at least turn off notifications and temporarily delete social media apps to reduce temptation.
  • Tell your family and friends that you’re unplugging for the holidays; they might even join you for a technology-free vacation.
  • Set a specific, limited amount of time when you can access your work email, if you absolutely must check in.
  • Plan technology-free activities—try playing board games, going sledding or bike riding, baking cookies, reading a book, hosting a karaoke night at home or reviving an old hobby.

Source: Live Well, Work Well – December 2014

Wintertime Workouts

January 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Live Well, Work Well

shutterstock_114772012Whether you’re in full-out hibernation mode or stressed out and busy from the holidays, your exercise routine might be one of the first casualties of the season. However, continuing your workouts throughout winter will help you stay energetic and healthy during the colder months of the year, and exercise might enable you to stave off that dreaded holiday weight gain. Lack of motivation, limited time and drab winter weather can all work against your attempts at getting sufficient exercise—whatever your reason, use some of the following tips to get moving this winter.
No motivation. The holidays are busy, and winter brings fewer daylight hours and colder temperatures. Here are a few options for rekindling your interest in exercise:

  • Mix up your routine; if you usually run, try weightlifting or taking a dance class.
  • Find a new winter sport that interests you and take a class or join a club.
  • If using gym equipment at home, put a TV in front of the treadmill.
  • Phone a friend—sometimes a little company is all you need to get moving.
  • If you have children, take them sledding or help them build a snow fort; wearing extra clothes and trudging through snow burns more calories than you might think!

Limited time. If you’re busy with holiday preparation and parties, sometimes you need a quick, unscheduled workout idea. Here are a few options:

  • Jump rope—this activity is not just for kids, as jumping rope can be a great way to get your heart rate up in just a few minutes.
  • Lift weights in the kitchen—use cans, milk jugs or whatever is convenient in order to fit in a few bicep curls while you make dinner or organize the pantry.

Cold and wet weather. Whether you live in a snow-steeped area of the country or you suffer from drizzly weather and gray skies, going for a run isn’t as simple as it is during the summer. If you’re determined to brave the elements, try these tips for a safe workout:

  • Do a quick warm-up inside, such as jogging in place or doing jumping jacks.
  • Dress in layers that you can peel off and tie around your waist as you go.
  • Wear gloves and a headband or hat to help protect against frostbite.

Cold weather and busy holidays don’t have to be an insurmountable obstacle for fitting in a workout. If you keep exercising during the holiday season, you’ll feel better, stay healthier and be able to justify that extra dessert.

Source: Live Well, Work Well – December 2014

Be Prepared for Influenza

January 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Family Health & Safety

shutterstock_160387850An influenza pandemic could strike your community at any time. It is important to be prepared in order to lessen the impact a pandemic may have on you and your family. The following tips can help you prepare for a possible pandemic and limit the spread of infection should a pandemic occur.

Prepare Your Home

It is important to anticipate the supplies and medications that you may need during a pandemic, so that they are readily available when they are needed.

  • Always have a two-week supply of food and water on hand, in case you are unable to get to the store or if the stores are short on supplies.
  • Monitor your prescription drugs so that you always have a continuous supply in your home.
  • Have applicable nonprescription drugs and health supplies on hand, such as pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, vitamins, etc.

Prepare Your Family and Community

  • Communicate with family and loved ones about the type of care someone will need if sick with the flu, so everyone is prepared to care for each other.
  • Volunteer with local community groups to prepare for a pandemic and assist with emergency response needs.

Prevent Infection

The following tactics can often prevent infection – don’t forget to share them with family and loved ones as well.

  • Avoid close contact with those who are sick.
  • Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer often.
  • Disinfect commonly touched surfaces in your home, workplace and car.
  • If your doctor recommends it, get yourself and your family vaccinated against the flu.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth to avoid spreading germs you may have come into contact with.
  • Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious foods.

Observing these general health habits can help you keep your immune system strong and less prone to illness.

If You Become Sick

Sometimes, sickness is unavoidable, especially during a pandemic. However, there are strategies you can take to limit its spread to others.

  • Continue to observe the above recommendations, including washing hands, avoiding close contact with others, getting plenty of sleep and drinking plenty of fluids.
  • Stay home from work, school and public places, to avoid spreading illness to others (it is recommending by the CDC that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone).
  • Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing.
  • Talk to your doctor about taking a prescription antiviral medication.

Source: Hodge, Hart & Schleifer

Snow Blower Safety

January 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Family Health & Safety

shutterstock_176056241
Snow removal can be hard on the body when you have to clear a large area with only a shovel, especially after a heavy snow. Using a snow blower may be the perfect way to give your back a break. However, it is important to take the proper safety precautions to avoid unnecessary injury while clearing snow this winter.

Dress for the Job

Clearing snow can be a cold job. Dress properly not only to keep yourself warm, but also to keep yourself safe.

  • Wear boots that will give you adequate traction while walking behind the blower.
  • Wear gloves that allow you to firmly grip the snow blower and do not interfere with its operation.
  • Wear eye protection.
  • Avoid long scarves or other loose clothing that could become caught in the snow blower’s moving parts during servicing or operation.
It isn’t hard to stay safe while clearing snow. Taking simple safety precautions will help you avoid unnecessary injury this winter.

Before Use

Go through these steps before you begin to clear snow:

  • Familiarize yourself with the snow blower’s operations manual.
  • Inspect the area that you are about to clear. Look for things that may be hidden under the snow like doormats or newspapers.
  • Check the snow blower’s oil level before each use.
  • Never start the snow blower indoors. If you are in a garage, make sure the door is open before you start the machine.

Clearing Snow

While running the snow blower:

  • Be aware of where you are aiming the shoot. Rocks and ice can become dangerous missiles if picked up by the blower.
  • Never blow snow toward people or cars.
  • Keep your hands and feet away from all moving arts.
  • Never override automatic shutoff features.
  • Do not operate the snow blower on a steep incline.
  • Operate the blower at a speed no faster than a walk.

Clogs and Jams

If something becomes stuck in the snow blower:

  • Turn the machine off and wait until all moving parts have stopped before attempting to fix anything.
  • Never reach into the blower shoot with your hands for any reason, even if the machine is off. Use a stick to work any debris out of the shoot.

Proper Maintenance Counts

Proper snow blower maintenance is important to ensure smooth operation.

  • Always add fresh fuel and oil at the start of each season; also, check the spark plug.
  • If you are using an electric snow blower or an electric start for a gas-powered blower, make sure any power cords being used are in good condition.
  • Maintain proper tire pressure to provide the best handling.
  • Run all of the fuel out of the snow blower before storing it at the end of each season.

Source: Hodge, Hart & Schleifer

Festivals and Events

January 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Spotlight on the Community
Martin Luther King Memorial.  Photo © Rachel Cooper, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Martin Luther King Memorial.

The Washington, DC area and its surrounding communities in Maryland and Virginia host lots of annual festivals and special events. All dates, prices, and activities mentioned are subject to change, so please check the official website or call to confirm information. Please note that most of these events are held each year and the dates are updated as available.

New Years Day in Washington, DC
Looking for something to do on New Year’s Day in Washington, DC? Many businesses are closed, but there are still a lot of great ways to spend your day on January 1st.

Washington DC Area Christmas Light Displays
Some of the Christmas light displays in the area continue through the first week in January. Enjoy a drive or a stroll through one of the Washington, DC area’s spectacle of lights at a local park or along the water in Washington, DC, Maryland or Virginia.

Christmas at Mount Vernon
Through January 6, 2015. Learn about the Christmas traditions of George Washington and tour the Mount Vernon Estate. The newly expanded programs extend through the first week in January.

ICE! – Christmas at the Gaylord National Resort
through January 4, 2015. The award-winning holiday attraction is a winter wonderland created entirely of 5,000 BLOCKS of ice weighing 1.5 MILLION POUNDS! hand-sculpted by 40 international artisans and kept at a chilling nine degrees Fahrenheit.

Winter Theater in Washington DC
With dozens of performances around the region, here is the schedule of the top shows for the 2015 season.

Washington Bridal Showcase
January 4 and 18, 2015. See everything you need to plan an extraordinary wedding. The bridal show includes exhibits of bridal fashions, invitations, photographers, ceremony sites, music, wedding cakes, decorations, honeymoon travel and much more.

International Motorcycle Show
January 9-11, 2015. Washington Convention Center. The family-friendly event includes a display of the latest street bikes, dirt bikes, cruisers, ATVs, personal watercraft and motorcycle apparel.

Washington Winter Show
January 9-11, 2015. Katzen Arts Center at American University. One of the country’s most established antiques events will feature fine antiques, distinguished events, and a Loan Exhibition.

NBC4’s Health and Fitness Expo
January 10-11, 2015, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Washington DC Convention Center. The annual event offers fun activities to motivate you to take charge of your health. Try a new sport such as golf, skiing or snowboarding with the virtual simulators. Check your body mass index, take a heart risk test, learn about ergonomics and much more.

Washington Wizards Basketball
See NBA games live at the Verizon Center or enjoy the national broadcasts throughout the season.

Washington Capitals
The NHL Hockey team plays at the Verizon Center from January through April. Find information on tickets, schedules and more.

Washington, DC Restaurant Week
January 19-25, 2015. Experience Washington, DC’s best restaurants at affordable prices. More than 200 of Washington, DC’s finest restaurants will be offering 3-course lunches for $20.14 and 3-course dinners for $35.14 for this gourmet event.

Howard County Restaurant Weeks
January 19-February 2, 2015. Participating restaurants will offer prix fixe chef’s menus with prices ranging from $10.15 to $40.15 (beverages, tax, gratuity not included) featuring local products, cut flowers, seafood, herbs, meats, eggs and game often paired with local wine or beers.

Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Events
The national holiday is January 19, 2015. Martin Luther King Jr’s Birthday is a day of honor and commemorative events at a variety of sites in Washington, DC. Events honoring the civil rights leader run throughout the month of January.

Bethesda Chevy Chase Restaurant Week
2015 Dates to Be Announced. More than 30 Bethesda area restaurants will offer prix fixe lunch and dinner menus. Take this great opportunity to try out some restaurants in Bethesda/Chevy Chase.

Roe v. Wade Anniversary Rallies
January 22, 2015. Thousands of Americans will march in Washington, DC on the anniversary of the date of the Supreme Court’s infamous 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Pro-lifers and pro-choice supporters will march in support of their stand on this controversial issue.

Alexandria Restaurant Week
January 23-February 1, 2015. More than 45 restaurants will be offering special menus and pricing to entice visitors to dine in Alexandria, Virginia, just five miles south of Washington, DC. The restaurants are offering either a three-course pre-fixe dinner or dinner for two, both priced at $35.
Home & Remodeling Show
January 23-25, 2015. Dulles Expo Center. 4368 Chantilly Shopping Center, Chantilly, VA. Find out what’s new in home decor, gardening, remodeling, and more. Meet hundreds of experts and check out thousands of products and services.

Washington Auto Show
January 23-February 1, 2015. Washington Convention Center, 801 Mount Vernon Place, NW Washington, DC. This special event features more than 700 new vehicle makes and models, live entertainment, celebrity guests and new car giveaways.

Maryland Polar Bear Plunge
January 24, 2015. Annapolis, Maryland. During the charity event for Special Olympics Maryland, thousands of participants of all ages are daring enough to take a dip in the wintry waters of the Chesapeake Bay. The event includes contests and live entertainment. See More Polar Plunges in Maryland and Virginia.

Sugarloaf Craft Festivals
January 30-February 1, 2015. Dulles Expo Center, 4320 Chantilly Place Center, Chantilly, VA Enjoy the crafts of 500 artists, including jewelry, wood, leather, clothing, sculpture, glass and more. Watch live entertainment and feast on a variety of foods.

Summer Camp Fairs in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia
Various dates in January and February. Do you know what your kids are doing this summer? Attend a camp fair and find out about a variety of day and sleepaway camps in the Washington, DC area.

Source: dc.about.com