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Enjoy Fall in New England

fall foliage

This tree couldn’t decide which color it wanted to be. Photographed in Marshfield, MA. October 2015.

It’s hard not to fall in love with fall in New England – the leaves are changing color, it’s comfortable sweater weather, and the holidays are around the corner. And while October is almost over (!) there’s still time enjoy the fall foliage before November rolls in.

Leaves are turning all over New England, but if you want to know where the most brilliant colors are bursting, check out this foliage map. You don’t need to travel northbound enjoy the show, there are plenty of opportunities here in Massachusetts and Connecticut to satisfy your hungry eyes.

For those in Massachusetts, consider a road trip along the Mohawk Trail (Rt. 2) this weekend. As you wind through the picturesque northern Berkshires, keep riding west on Rt. 2 and you’ll hit Shelburne Falls, a quaint village in the Deerfield River Valley featuring natural beauty, talented artisans and small shops. Be sure to walk over the Bridge of Flowers during your visit.

In Connecticut,  the Department of Environmental Protection recommends visiting Macedonia Brook State Park, Mohawk State Forest or Pachaug State Forest for some quality leaf peeping,.

And for you urbanites that prefer staying in the city this weekend, there are plenty of autumn and Halloween-themed festivities going on. Get your fall fixing’s at the Boston Public Market’s Pumpkinpalooza or dress your pet in the spookiest costume you can find for the Faneuil Hall Halloween Pet Parade!

Whether you’re chasing foliage, carving pumpkins or cozying up to a fire, we hope you can get out there and take advantage of another wonderful fall weekend in New England!

Headquartered in Boston, Bunker Hill Insurance provides home insurance to customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Bunker Hill is a member of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in homeowners and auto insurance throughout the northeast.

Shop local, improve neighborhoods

During National Small Business Week, it’s important to take the time to recognize the contributions that small business owners make to our communities. Since many of Bunker Hill’s independent agents are small business owners integral to our success, we are especially indebted to their entrepreneurial spirits and appreciative of their dedication to the local communities we serve.small business owners

Why small businesses matter. The American Dream was founded on the notion that if you work hard and persevere, you can make something of yourself – a goal the “average Joe” could achieve. Though we’ve reached a point in history where businesses range from “mom and pop” shops to complex multinational corporations, the romantic ideal of self-made success can still be found as easily on Main Street as it can on Wall Street.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, more than half of Americans either work for or own small businesses – creating two out of three new jobs in the U.S. each year. These numbers suggest that small businesses are still a powerful force behind our economy, and regardless of size, scope or number of patrons, each small business contributes to the American Dream.

Not only do small businesses provide jobs for the majority of the American workforce, but small businesses offer something major corporations might otherwise not: direct quantitative and qualitative benefits to communities.

Quantitative is pretty obvious: keeping dollars in the community. When you shop at the local corner store, the storeowner is more likely to recycle that revenue elsewhere in your community. Locally-owned businesses also create local jobs for people in the community.

Though the qualitative benefits may not be as apparent, they’re just as important. Small business transactions can contribute to the overall well-being of a town. For example, there is an inherent human component when you make a local purchase because you’re connecting directly with other members of your neighborhood.  This is your way of saying, “I support the well-being of our community because I support you and your business.”

Small businesses also offer unique solutions to competition.  While larger, national businesses are more immune to smaller market forces, small business owners are compelled to stay innovative and offer better service to customers because of the diversity in the marketplace.

So, shopping locally benefits everyone: the consumer, the business owner and the community at large.

HOW to support small businesses. Supporting small businesses begins with appreciation – it’s important to understand the impact shopping locally has on your neighborhood. Then, it’s a matter of committing to shopping locally. For example, instead of eating at a chain restaurant, consider eating a meal at a standalone place. Try buying your groceries at the local corner market rather than the big supermarket in the strip mall. Or, consider talking to a local, independent agent rather than a direct online carrier the next time you’re in the market for home insurance. Unlike a large direct carrier, independent agents offer a personal interaction: they will take the time to understand your needs and educate you on products based on your situation.

If you’re in the Boston area, consider participating in Acoustic on Main – a citywide initiative to connect neighborhoods, local businesses and live performers in honor of National Small Business Week.

While shopping locally, remember to share your favorite experiences with others because word of mouth and referrals are some of the best ways to learn about new businesses, products and services. Whether it’s through social media or leaving a consumer review, it’s easy to get the word out on your favorite spots.

So, as consumers, we should appreciate the resilience of Main Street business owners and show that appreciation by shopping locally – not just during National Small Business Week – but all year.

Headquartered in Boston, Bunker Hill Insurance provides home insurance to customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Bunker Hill is a member of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in homeowners and auto insurance throughout the northeast.

 

Don’t shoot the messenger: Hurricane season is upon us

Although it seems like spring JUST arrived (well, in some places it did), the last thing we want to do is rush it by looking ahead to summer. But, if Mother Nature continues her streak of extreme weather this year, it’s wise to start considering the potential for hurricanes. And as 2015 marks the tenth anniversary of Katrina, one of the country’s costliest and deadliest hurricanes, it’s a sobering reminder that we all should be prepared for unexpected severe weather.Hurricane warning

  • Communication is key, so have a Family Emergency Plan. This is a good strategy not just for hurricanes, but extreme weather in general. Make sure family members know how to reconnect after a storm. Children should be trained on how to call 911 for help and should memorize the number of a trusted out-of-state family member or friend to contact if necessary. Be sure each family member knows the phone number of that contact as well.
  • Along with communication preparation, physical preparation is imperative.  To ensure you’re well-prepared for a severe storm, consider making an emergency supply kit equipped with at least the following:
    • Three days’ supply of basic food, water and clothing
    • Flashlights, weather radio, and fresh batteries
    • Any necessary prescription medications
    • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account information in waterproof, portable bags
    • Extra cash
    • First aid kit

Visit FEMA’s website for additional comments

Be prepared for an evacuation 

  • Identify meeting places both within and outside your city or town
  • Listen and watch for instructions from the authorities on safe escape routes to established shelters (Pro tip: The American Red Cross provides a list of shelters nationwide that’s updated every thirty minutes)
  • If you have a car, fill up the gas tank before a storm in case of an immediate evacuation
  • Identify multiple ‘escape’ routes out of your area in the event there are road hazards, such as flooded streets, washed out bridges or downed power lines
  • If time permits, secure your home by unplugging all appliances and locking your windows and doors

As is the case with all extreme weather conditions, the best way to be prepared is to have a plan. Let’s hope for a mild summer, but also be aware of the realities of weather and ready ourselves for the unexpected.

Headquartered in Boston, Bunker Hill Insurance provides home insurance to customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Bunker Hill is a member of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in homeowners and auto insurance throughout the northeast.

 

You’re moved into your new home… now what?

Spring and summer are popular times for home buying and selling; lawns are at their best (after all, it is about presentation!) and the warm weather makes the daunting task of moving more bearable. But as exciting as moving is, it’s a huge endeavor with lots of moving parts (see what I did there?) and it’s easy to forget some simple, yet necessary, steps to take after you’re in the new house. So, if you’re among those making an exciting move this season, here are tips on what to take care of afterwards to ensure you’re happy, settled and safe in your new home:Giving house keys

  • Change the locks. Unless the house is brand new, there’s no way of knowing who has made copies of the keys over the years. Once the papers are signed and the keys are in your hand, switch out the locks so that you can account for anyone who can access your home.
  • Forward your mail. Head to the post office and setup mail forwarding so that you don’t miss any important bills or other communications. If you’d rather, you can do it online through the US Postal Service website. Although this can be done before the actual move, this step can easily be forgotten among the laundry list of other things that need to be taken care of. Since there’s always the chance that some mail doesn’t make it to your new address, it’s a good idea to leave your new address with the people at your previous residence for stragglers or check in periodically if possible.
  • Update your license and registration. It’s important for these documents to have your most current address. Also, if you’ve moved to an area that requires a residence permit to park on the street, you’ll need to provide proof that your car is actually registered in that town.
  • Notify important constituents. Let any organization that needs your address know that you’ve relocated. For example, usually a credit card is tied to your address. So, before your card is declined, let your carrier know that you’ve moved.
  • Get reconnected. If you need to, now’s the time to setup your cable, internet and phone services.
  • Don’t forget about your health. If you’ve relocated to an entirely new area, you’ll want to find a new doctor and dentist. Have your old healthcare providers forward your medical records. If you can keep the same doctor and dentist, just be sure to notify them of your address change.
  • Start fresh. Give the inside of your new home a good cleaning,  especially if it isn’t a new construction. Sometimes previous owners can leave a messy trail once they’ve moved out. Now that you’re in the home, you’ll want a clean – both literally and figuratively – slate to make it your own.
  • Window treatments. Once officially in your new home, be sure to install window treatments for privacy’s stake if there aren’t any already.
  • Cosmetics. After you’ve taken care of the big construction (if any), now’s the time to tackle those cosmetic fixes. If you’re taking down wallpaper and painting rooms, make sure to drape sheets over your furniture to protect it from paint and other chemicals.

This list is but the tip of the iceberg for what needs to be done after moving into a new home. We hope you’ve gained some valuable insight and can use this as a starting point for your post-move responsibilities.

Happy moving!

Headquartered in Boston, Bunker Hill Insurance provides home insurance to customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Bunker Hill is a member of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in homeowners and auto insurance throughout the northeast.

Grill Safety 101

Summer’s in full swing and there’s no better time to throw some meat and vegetables on the grill for a barbecue. Cookouts are no doubt a summertime favorite, and with 80% of American households owning a grill (Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association), chances are you might be firing yours up in the backyard today.

Before you fuel the fires of your inner chef and light up the grill, check out these helpful tips on how to do so safely:

  • Replace last year’s drippings tray from underneath the grill and always make sure it’s clean before cooking – too much grease can start a fire in the tray.
  • Check the hoses to and from the fuel source. Make sure they are attached properly and don’t have any cracking, holes or leaks.Family having a barbecue party
  • Carefully review the manufacturer’s instructions on how to refill your grill, regardless of whether it runs on charcoal, wood, or gas.
  • Before placing food on the grill, let it heat up to burn away any lingering residue.
  • After use, be sure to use a wire brush to rid the grill grates of old cooking residue. If you are using a charcoal burner, be sure to wait until the coals are fully cooled before disposing of them into a metal container.
  • Keep the grill a safe distance – usually at least 10 feet – from other structures and always have a fire extinguisher handy.
  • Last, but not least – never leave a lighted grill unattended.

For more information and tips on grill safety, visit the National Fire Protection Association.

Happy cooking!

Headquartered in Boston, Bunker Hill Insurance provides home, condo and renters insurance to customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Bunker Hill is a member of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in property and auto insurance throughout the northeast.

 

 

Identity Theft 101

A 2013 report released by the Identity Theft Assistance Center states that in 2012, 12.6 million Americans were victim to identity fraud, amounting to nearly a single victim every three seconds.

Online banking, social media and a general increase in web-based transactions means that we’re more vulnerable to this type of theft than ever before.

Identity theft online

You may think of identity theft as a “this’ll never happen to me” crime, but the numbers indicate that it can – in fact – happen to anyone. Fraudsters only need to capture some of your personal information – like your Social Security or bank account number – to gain personal profit at your expense.

Despite the pervasiveness of identity theft, there are ways you can protect yourself. Each Bunker Hill policy includes access for you and your household family members to Identity Theft 911®’s identity management and fraud education services. 

If you suspect you may be or have been targeted by a thief, call Bunker Hill immediately at 888-472-5246 and we’ll connect you to a fraud specialist who will help you through the resolution process. You won’t have to file a claim to use this service.

Education is key when it comes to identity theft protection, so here are some helpful resources to read up on:

For your information, Identity Theft 911® is not an insurance product and is not an affiliate of Bunker Hill Insurance. This service will assist you in preventing theft, and in the worst-case scenario, recovering from it, but does not provide reimbursement for losses or out-of-pocket expenses associated with identity theft.

Headquartered in Boston, Bunker Hill Insurance provides home, condo and renters insurance to customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Bunker Hill is a member of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in property and auto insurance throughout the northeast.

Safely Weather Hurricane Season

Hurricanes can be nasty business and 2012’s “Superstorm Sandy” was a harsh reminder that even in New England we can be exposed to dangerous weather. Hurricane season officially ends November 1st, so that leaves a few more months for a potential storm. Here are a few tips you should have in mind to keep yourself and your family as safe as possible:

Hurricane warning

  • Have a Family Emergency Plan to make sure your family members know how to reconnect after a storm.
  • Keep emergency numbers by the phone. Since children may not be familiar with how to make an emergency call, run through the process with them so they’re comfortable with how it works.
  • Designate an out-of-state family member or friend as an additional point of contact. Each family member should have this person’s number in the event you are separated and need to reconnect.
  • In case you need to leave your home, have preplanned evacuation routes and be aware of local evacuation shelters.

Keep your car in your garage if possible, away from flood waters and fully fuelled-up before the storm arrives. While the purpose of a Family Emergency Plan is to ensure that your family members can get in touch with one another after the storm, it’s equally important to have an Emergency Supply Kit for when the storm hits. A standard supply kit should contain:

  • Enough basic food and water supplies to keep your family going for at least three days.
  • 30 days’ worth of medication, keeping in mind any particular medical requirements you might have (asthma, allergies, etc.).
  • FEMA has a list of additional emergency supplies that you may want to consider.

Following these simple, preemptive steps will help ensure your family is prepared in the event a Hurricane threatens New England.

Headquartered in Boston, Bunker Hill Insurance provides home, condo and renters insurance to customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Bunker Hill is a member of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in property and auto insurance throughout the northeast.

 

 

 

Bunker Hill’s Tips to Winterize Your Home

As the weather continues to cool and homeowners begin to crank the heat, make stovetop chili, and sit by the fireplace, we at Bunker Hill Insurance want to make sure that our customers have the information they need to prevent house fires and keep themselves and their loved ones safe.

For this reason, we’ve created a video highlighting common safety hazards in the home that can easily go unnoticed—from smoke detectors with dead batteries, to dirty dryer exhausts, to outdated wiring.

Check out our video to help you avoid these hazards, and stay safe!

Headquartered in Boston, Bunker Hill Insurance provides home insurance to customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Bunker Hill is a member of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in homeowners and auto insurance throughout the northeast.

One Fund for Boston

Our heart belongs to Boston…
TheOneFundBostonIf you participated in the Boston Marathon this year, or were out cheering the marathoners on, we hope that you and yours are safe.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the three young people who we lost on Monday, and to those who were injured. We’re extremely proud of Boston’s brave first responders and world class medical personnel, as well as those in the crowd who, without thinking of their own safety, selflessly helped others in need.

While we’re still in deep shock and in mourning here in Boston, we are resilient and are looking forward to supporting and cheering next year’s runners on.

In support of those directly impacted by the tragic events, Mayor Thomas Menino and Governor Deval Patrick have created a new charity called The One Fund  with the purpose of raising money to help those families most affected by the tragic events that unfolded during Monday’s Boston Marathon.

If you are looking for a way to help those directly impacted or to make a contribution to anyone in need you can:

The Boston Marathon is one of the world’s premier international athletic events. Thousands of runners and spectators come from around the world each year to participate and watch the race. The marathon is also a truly democratic event, one in which elite and regular runners alike can participate, and one that everyone along the course can pull up a lawn chair and enjoy (no tickets needed). While we’ll never forget what happened on April 15th, that original joyous and competitive spirit of the Boston Marathon must and will endure.

Thank you so much.

Headquartered in Boston, Bunker Hill Insurance provides home insurance to customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Bunker Hill is a member of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in homeowner’s and auto insurance throughout the northeast.