Should You Buy or Lease That Car?

buy or lease carCars are a big part of our culture. Many of us work in places where cars are required to get around. At some point, you’ll need to purchase a car that costs more money than you have on hand. You’ll ask yourself “Should I buy or lease that car?”

People have been purchasing vehicles forever, but leasing (the practice of only financing the depreciation of a vehicle, not its entire cost) was once only accessible to wealthy people or companies with generous budgets. That isn’t the case anymore. As vehicle costs continue to rise, leasing becomes an attractive solution for every segment of the car industry.

Some people will tell you “It’s smart to buy the car,” or “Save yourself the hassle and lease.” Truthfully, there’s no simple answer. Which option is better depends on your situation, your finances, and your needs? We’ve laid out the advantages and disadvantages of both options.

Advantages to leasing a car

  • Your lease payment is usually less than a finance payment would be.
  • You can have a new car every year if you wanted (with all of the new gadgets).
  • You can drive a better car than you can afford.
  • A lease can be written off business taxes, making it a good company vehicle.
  • Perfect choice if you’ll only be in the area for a year or two.
  • The leasing dealership issues a warranty that covers much of the repairs.
  • You aren’t making a purchase, so sales tax is less.
  • There is no trade-in vehicle to deal with.
  • If the car is worth less than the lease predicted at the end, it’s not your problem.

Disadvantages to leasing a car

  • At the end of the lease, you don’t own the car. You have to return it (although there is an option to buy, but it’s often not in your favor financially.)
  • Terminating a lease early can lead to expensive fees.
  • Putting too much wear or mileage on the car can lead to expensive fees.
  • If you plan to keep the car for years, leasing is more expensive than buying.
  • Lease contracts are made to be confusing so you pay more in fees.
  • Your mileage is often limited to 12,000/year, which is easy to overcome.
  • You can buy extra mileage, but it’s expensive.
  • Typically the lease requires you to have excellent credit.
  • Failing to perform basic maintenance can result in extra fees.

Advantages of purchasing a car

  • You can modify or augment the car in any way you wish at any time.
  • It’s cheaper over the long run if you plan to drive the car for a long time.
  • There’s no limit to how many miles or much wear you can put on the car (which is important for commuters who travel long distances).
  • You can tailor the loan term (length) and payment amount to your budget.
  • You can sell the car whenever you want for as much as you like.
  • Once the car is paid off, a big piece of your budget opens up.

Disadvantages of purchasing a car

  • Many dealers require you to pay a down payment before you can finance a vehicle. This is smart anyway, otherwise, you’ll be upside down on the loan.
  • Long loans can mean paying a lot of interest by the end of the loan.
  • The monthly payment is higher than a lease payment.
  • You are responsible for repair costs (unless there’s a warranty, but that doesn’t last forever).
  • At some point, you’ll have to sell it, trade it in, or junk it.
  • A car is a depreciating asset, so you’ll never sell it for what you paid.
  • Fluctuations in the car’s market value can affect your selling price (which you can’t predict).
  • If you need to sell your car but owe more than it’s worth, you would have to pay just to get rid of the loan.

Summary

When you’re trying to decide whether to buy or lease a car, look at it like this: A leased car is convenient, easy, and you get to drive something new all the time. A purchased car is far cheaper, and you have the freedom to use it however you please.

Before you make any decision, it’s important to understand the real financial implications. Use this calculator to understand your potential car buying options.

Jennifer Dwyer
Personal Lines Representative
jdwyer@srfm.com

Jenn Dwyer

How to choose the perfect appraiser for your property, art, antiques, jewelry, and other valuables

appraiserIf you have highly valuable, treasured property or possessions, you may need to get them appraised for insurance purposes. Many insurance carriers will insist on accurate valuation of property, art, antiques, jewelry, and other items so they can ensure the correct level of coverage and premium payment.

When you’re seeking out a good appraiser, here are some areas to consider:

Talk to your friends and colleagues

If you know other people who need to insure high-value items, talk to them about their experiences. Get recommendations on good appraisers and create a shortlist.

Look at professional qualifications

There are a variety of professional accreditations and qualifications depending on the fields an appraiser trains in. These include:

  • International Society of Appraiser’s credentials for fine art, antiques, and personal property.
  • A diploma in gemology for jewelry appraisal.
  • Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice exam for members of the American Society of Appraisers.
  • Principles of Valuation courses for members of the American Society of Appraisers.
  • Property appraisers should have one of the following designations from the Appraisal Institute — MAI Designation, SRPA Designation, SRA Designation, AI-GRS Designation, AI-RRS Designation.

There are various other exams and certifications available. Always check an appraiser’s qualifications to ensure they’re qualified to provide expert advice.

Check if they’re members of professional appraiser organizations

There are several industry bodies for appraisers. They include:

Many of these websites have membership directories for their appraisers.

Professional appraisers are required to uphold a strong code of ethics, including:

  • Providing truly independent valuation services, with no external influences.
  • Have no outside interest in the valued item, other than as providing a professional service.
  • Only carry out appraisal work in their area of expertise.
  • Consider all relevant factors when arriving at a valuation.
  • Treat and document property with the right level of care and respect.
  • Ensure personal remuneration and pay is independent of the value of property being appraised.

Interview your shortlist

When you have a shortlist of appraisers, call each one and ask questions about their area of expertise, qualifications, professional standards, and membership of industry bodies. Get a feel for what each appraiser is like and use that to decide which one would be right for your needs.

Remember that valuations change with time, many carriers will require updated valuations on a regular basis.

As always, if you have any questions about your scheduled property or how to get your property appraised, we are a phone call away!

Mary McGrath
Personal Lines Manager
mmcgrath@srfm.com

Appraiser

Prepping Your Vehicle for Winter

Prepping Your Vehicle for WinterAs the temperature drops and the skies turn gray, natures’ animals prepare for the great hibernation that is winter. Squirrels stockpile nuts, bears fatten themselves up, birds fly south, and us humans head to the store and buy a new winter coat. For those of us with opposable thumbs, we also have to prepare other things for winter that are distinctly human…like our automobiles.

Owning a car, which most of us do, comes with the responsibility of regular maintenance and upkeep and for those of us living in colder climates, we have the added task of prepping our automobiles for winter. So as the cold front approaches, what do you need to do to get your car ready for the change of season?

Getting your car mechanically ready for the cold:

  • Fluids: Fluids are the life blood of your vehicle and as the temperature drops, the fluids in our vehicle respond. Frozen or broken down fluids are generally not good for a car. It’s critical to ensure that the fluids we’re using in our car can stand up to the freezing temperatures of winter. Specifically:
  • Engine Coolant/Anti-Freeze:  A coolant system flush and new radiator fluid is a good idea going into winter, and make sure you have anti-freeze in your radiator that’s rated for sub zero temperatures.
  • Engine Oil: Most engine oil these days are rated for two temperature ranges (10W 30 for example). The numbers signify the weight or viscosity of the oil. The more viscous the oil, the more easily it flows through the engine. With engine oil, lower numbers means the oil flows more easily. In winter you want a lower weight oil so the cold doesn’t thicken the oil and impede the flow through the engine. Be sure you have some 10W in your oil weight. Did you know that the “w” in 10w30 stands for winter? It does.
  • Transmission Fluid: Typically, the transmission fluid in your vehicle is rated for the cold but heading into winter is a good time to have a mechanic check the fluid, flush it out and replace it if needed.
  • Windshield Wiper Fluid: While it’s not critical to the operation of your vehicle, wiper fluid if not rated for the cold can freeze up and cause damage to the wiper fluid reservoir.
  • Tires: The obvious item to prep for winter is your tires. Have your tires inspected by a professional mechanic to ensure that there is sufficient tread to get you through the snowy days. If your area sees a lot of snow, you may want to consider putting on tires with snow specific tread. These tires have a more aggressive tread pattern and will reduce your gas mileage so consider the trade off. Here are some tips from the pros on winter tires.
  • Heater: None of us want to be stuck in the dead of winter with no heater in the car. Have your mechanic check your heater operation and make sure you’re ready for the chill.

 Preparing to drive and store your car in the cold:

Once your vehicle is mechanically ready for the cold weather, it’s time to prep yourself as a driver for the cold days ahead. Here are some things you can do to make your winter driving life easier.

  • Keep an emergency kit in the car: You never know when your car may break down or get stuck in the snow leaving you stranded in the cold. Act like a boy scout and be prepared with a winter emergency car kit with items like flares, a camping shovel for digging out of snow, and some cold weather gear.
  • Get an Ice scraper/Snow brush: Duh. I know, it’s obvious to have one but it’s also good to invest in a good quality scraper.
  • Get a car cover: If you’re not into scraping and brushing snow off the car in the morning, a car cover could make your life more enjoyable. A couple of minutes to put a cover on your car in the evening can save you several minutes of scraping ice and brushing snow in the morning. And who wants to do that on a cold winter morning when you’re late for work? You can purchase a car cover online that is made specifically for your car.

Here’s a tip: Always make sure that all of the snow is completely removed from your vehicle before driving. I know, you just want to get to work, but when you leave snow on your car, it blows off while you drive blinding drivers in cars behind you in a snow drift, which is unsafe, and not too friendly.

As winter approaches, do these few things to get you and your car ready for the cold and it’s going to make your life a whole lot easier. At Sinclair, we’re always preparing for the future and the unforeseen. We are Risk Management Specialists ready to handle whatever life brings your way.

Stephen Davis
sdavis@srfm.com
Sinclair Risk& Financial Management

Prepping Your Vehicle for Winter

How High-Net-Worth Individuals Can Protect Their Assets from Lawsuits

Flood Insurance Rethinking Coastal LivingHigh-net-worth individuals face a greater risk of being sued, especially when unemployment is high and economic growth is tenuous.

According to a survey by ACE Private Risk Services, 80% of households with $5 million or more in assets believe their wealth makes them a target for lawsuits. These are real fears. Under the doctrine of joint and several liability, any defendant can be held accountable for a plaintiff’s injury, so smart lawyers will target the defendant with the highest net worth.

In spite of this, less than 40% have coverage of more than $5 million and 21% have no coverage at all.

Many wealthy families leave themselves open to liability and preventable lawsuits for two reasons:

  1. They underestimate the cost of damages they could be forced to pay.
  2. They assume the cost of effective protection is higher than it really is.

Typical homeowners’ and auto insurance policies will only cover $300,000 to $500,000 in damages, but lawsuits in the millions are common.

It’s important to purchase coverage that prepares for the extreme cases, not just the likely ones. Trusts and foreign accounts can shield some assets from litigation, but courts have tremendous reach. The best way to protect yourself is with excess liability or umbrella liability insurance.

Both policies are far cheaper than most people realize. They often cost just a few hundred dollars per policy for millions of dollars of coverage. This cost can be offset with slightly higher deductibles in other policies.

People often confuse umbrella liability insurance and excess liability insurance. While both protect people and businesses from dramatic loses by giving them access to additional coverage, they have a few differences.

What is excess liability insurance?

Excess liability insurance is an extension for another type of liability insurance. When a claim is reported to your insurance company, the underlying primary policy is the first to pay. If there are more damages, the excess liability insurance picks up the rest (up to your policy limit).

Excess liability insurance adds additional coverage to only that policy. It can’t be applied to another policy. If coverage isn’t provided by your underlying policy, it isn’t provided by the excess liability policy either. Excess liability insurance usually pays for the legal costs of defending the claim.

What is umbrella liability insurance?

Umbrella liability insurance is similar to excess liability insurance, but it can be applied to multiple underlying policies. It can also cover claims that are not included in the underlying policies.

For an umbrella policy to cover a claim, clients need to pay self-insured retention. This is like a deductible, but it’s paid directly to the claimant.

It’s important to make sure your policies work together without gaps. For example, if your umbrella policy is set to pay damages in excess of $500,000, make sure your other policies cover you up to $500,000. If there’s a gap, you could be forced to pay.

For the best protection, combine your insurance policies with a single company. This reduces the overall cost of your insurance and provides a single, coordinated legal defense in the event of a lawsuit.

Rachel Winslow

Personal Lines Account Executive

rwinslow@srfm.com

How High-Net-Worth Individuals Can Protect Their Assets from Lawsuits

 

11 Smart Financial Moves You Have to Make

11 Smart Financial Moves You Have to MakeAccording to a BankRate.com survey, 61% of Americans couldn’t handle a sudden $500 bill. Too many of us are living paycheck-to-paycheck and not worrying about retirement.

Planning your finances isn’t something you can put off for another day. The sooner you create a strong financial plan, the more money you’ll enjoy in retirement.

1. Understand your financial situation – It’s imperative that you understand your assets and liabilities at all times. Many people are worth less than they think because they’ve never looked at it on paper.

2. Create a budget – A budget is an excellent way to build discipline into your finances. By portioning your income into categories, you prevent yourself from overspending.

3. Set financial goals Figure out the type retirement you want. Use that to figure out type of life you have to live now to make it a reality. A person who wants to travel will have different financial needs than someone who wants to live simply.

4. Come to terms with your significant other – Partners who haven’t aligned their financial goals often make mistakes. One wants to save, the other wants to spend. Make sure you agree on a plan so there’s no deviation.

5. Work down your debt – Debt directly works against any of your investments. If one account is gaining 7%, but you’re paying a debt at 3%, technically your net worth is only increasing by 4%. The sooner you get rid of the debt, the faster your money will grow.

6. Prepare for the end – It’s a tough subject, but end-of-life planning is essential. Don’t leave your loved ones with a financial burden or family in-fighting. Have honest conversation about how to handle things after your passing and draft a will with a lawyer.

7. Hire a CPA – If your financial situation is complex, hire a professional accountant who can reduce your tax liability as much as possible. Take advantage of all deductions, tax-free accounts and loopholes.

8. Diversify your investment portfolio – Every day, people lose everything because they
keep their money in one place. Keep some cash in a savings account that you can access immediately. Then spread your investments into a mix of stocks and bonds in different funds. Never keep all your money invested with your employer; if they go under, you lose your savings and your income.

9. Examine your credit report – Your credit report is a history of your financial transactions and your willingness to meet your obligations. Make sure this report is accurate. Look for errors, accounts that should be removed, and accounts that don’t belong.

10. Change your financial passwords – Online security is a serious matter these days. Thieves can access your accounts if you create poor passwords. Make sure you aren’t using the same password for every account. Change them regularly.

11. Use a trust to cut taxes – A trust allows you to pass assets to a beneficiary without incurring a tax burden. For example, you could use a trust to pass your estate down to your children upon your death, but still permit your wife to use and profit from that estate.

Always remember: a plan is no good unless you follow through. Ensure that your plan is right for your situation and see it to the end.

Robert Albretsen

Accredited Pension Administrator

RAlbretsen@srfm.com

11 Smart Financial Moves You Have to Make

 

Fundamentals of Retirement Planning

Fundamentals of Retirement PlanningIt would seem that high net worth individuals would need to worry and plan less for retirement than those with fewer assets.  However, properly planning for retirement is not specific to an income group and individuals at all levels face the same challenge, which is having enough income to meet their needs and desires and maintain their lifestyle for an undetermined number of years in the future. 

Only twenty-two percent of Americans are very confident about having enough money for a comfortable retirement and those with higher assets can jeopardize their legacies and futures if they don’t have realistic and disciplined retirement plans that focus on their individual objectives while factoring in risks and fluctuating market conditions.  

As you plan for retirement, here are four key things to keep in mind:

  • What Are Your Goals?  Always start with this question when thinking about your retirement planning and try to identify your primary goal.  Do you want to travel the world or just live the rest of your life comfortably?  Do you want to leave a legacy for your grandchildren?  Would you like to transfer wealth to a charity?  Do you want to stay in your current home or downsize? Your financial plan needs to match your primary goal and timeline.
  • Chose Advisors Wisely – Ensure you’re working with a trustworthy and reputable advisor that discloses all fees and obligations up front and in writing.  Also, make sure that they specialize in your particular area of need.  For example, if you are a high net worth individual, work with an advisor who is experienced and well-versed in retirement planning for the wealthy and can help you identify the right asset-allocation plan to ensure your retirement goals and lifestyle are met.
  • Beware of Leverage – It doesn’t matter if you made millions of dollars and squirreled it away for retirement if it wasn’t saved and invested strategically.  For example, did you maximize every tax opportunity?  Remember – it’s not what you made, it’s what you kept.
  • The Portfolio Mix – While you may be wealthy when it comes to shares in your company’s stock, make sure you’re not overexposed in any particular area.  Some liken it to betting on every horse – work with your advisor to put money in different buckets (i.e. – traditional 401K plans, Roth IRAs, etc.) to make sure your portfolio is diversified and your assets are protected over the long term.

Make sure your advisor helps you to think through any retirement surprises you may not be thinking of, such as medical costs, social security, taxes and the risk posed by inflation.  With the right plan, you can take the worry out of retirement and focus instead on enjoying your time doing whatever you love.  At Sinclair Risk and Financial Management, we can sit down and discuss how your employer sponsored retirement plan can best meet the retirement goals of both the owners and their employees. Give us a call at (203)265-0966 today.

Robert Albretsen

RAlbretsen@srfm.com

Accredited Pension Administrator

Fundamentals of Retirement Planning

Giving Back: Charitable Giving Opportunities

Giving Back: Charitable Giving OpportunitiesAccomplished individuals often look for opportunities to express their values and give back through charitable giving.  In fact, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet started an initiative called the Giving Pledge, which encourages the world’s wealthiest people to give away much of their fortune to charity.  Over 100 notable contributors have made the commitment to dedicate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy, including Richard Branson, Michael Bloomberg, Diane von Furstenberg and Mark Zuckerberg.

In addition to benefitting the community or cause the giving is focused on, charitable giving can also provide benefits to the donor.  Whether you’re nearing the end of your career and looking to leave a legacy or you’re passionate about a cause or making an impact for future generations, establishing a charitable giving approach can have the added benefit of reducing your taxable income.

 So how can you incorporate charitable giving into your larger estate planning strategy?

  • Utilize Donor-Advised Funds – Donor funds are traditionally sponsored by public charities and provide a rather uncomplicated way to donate money.  Donations to a donor-advised fund are deductible in the year they are contributed but can be given to charities in other years.   Donors can enjoy a tax deduction of up to 50% of adjusted gross income for cash donations or 30% for appreciated assets.   Donor-advised funds are good for individuals who want to give back but don’t have the time to be more involved or hands on.  On the other hand, the donor does not have much control over the way the funds they donate are ultimately utilized.
  • Set Up a Foundation – Not for the faint of heart, starting a foundation is for individuals who really want to get involved, roll up their sleeves and have control over the process to benefit a cause.  Running a foundation is much like running a business, with a board of directors and trustees, and requires an extensive amount of time and focus.  Most non-profit foundations are tax exempt.
  • Start a Scholarship Fund – Not only has the cost of higher education surged by over 500% in the past 30 years, but college textbooks costs are also on the rise, having increased by 73% over the past 10 years.  A great way to give back and to personalize your giving is by starting a scholarship fund.  Whether your late father had a love of law or your mother was passionate about music, you also often have the ability to honor a loved one by setting up a fund in their name.  On the tax side, scholarship fund donations are usually treated the same as donor-advised funds.

Some other things to take into consideration when making charitable donations are the type of property being donated (which can have an impact on tax consequences) as well as how the contribution is made. 

It’s important to work with a trusted advisor who will help you to navigate the intricacies of charitable giving and to determine what is right for your goals, financial situation and desired level of involvement so that you can leave the legacy you desire.

Matt Bauer
President
mbauer@srfm.com

Giving Back: Charitable Giving Opportunities

7 Insurance red flags when shopping for a new home

Red-flagWhether it’s juicy Pinterest images of fashion forward quartz kitchen countertops, or creative cork flooring that catches the eye in Dwell Magazine, the latest must-haves saturate the minds of home buyers. But what many home shoppers don’t realize is that insurers are evaluating homes with a very different set of criteria.

When it comes to homeowner’s insurance, you want your home to be “preferred.” There are carriers who will cover “non-preferred” homes but that route is costly and time consuming, to the point of potentially upending a closing.

Your dream home may have granite and bamboo, but if it also has any of these insurance red flags, it may be difficult, expensive, or impossible to secure homeowner’s coverage.

Safety hazards — First, your insurance inspector will train a very keen eye on the basics of the property, looking for anything that might pose a safety risk. Are there stairs with loose or missing railings? A broken step? What is the condition of the roof, the plumbing, the electrical system? Is there evidence of water damage? A “yes” to any of these will warrant further investigation at least and likely a full remedy before you can get a policy. 

Underground oil tanks — You do NOT want to “strike oil” in the form of a tank under the ground of your new home. Most carriers will not insure a property with an underground oil tank. Those that will may specifically refuse to provide any liability or environmental coverage for them, placing risk squarely on your shoulders. We strongly advise against this! Rather than pay higher premiums and accept the risk, it’s a better, much less expensive option to have the tank removed.

Swimming pools without a fence — Swimming pools are not an insurance deal breaker (though they can command higher premiums), so long as they are adequately protected with a fence and lockable gate. Some insurers will not cover a pool that has a diving board or a slide, even with a fence. 

Trampolines — The number of injuries sustained from using trampolines is astonishing: more than one million in the 10-year period of 2002 to 2011, according to the Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics. Consequently, most insurers simply will not cover a home that has one. If you plan to purchase a home with a trampoline, ask the seller to remove it before you buy.

High-risk animals — Most insurers will not cover homes with a “high-risk breed” dog. Each carrier has its own list of prohibited breeds. Common ones include Pit Bulls, Akitas, Chows, and Rottweilers. Certain other animals make insurers skittish as well, including horses and farm animals. Ownership of these animals will not necessarily prevent coverage, but they do tend to make it more expensive.

Being in a fire safety “desert” — Generally speaking, your insurance costs will rise with the distance your home is from a fire station or fire hydrant: the farther away, the higher your “PC” or Fire Protection Class. If a home is more than 5 miles from a fire station or more than 1,000 feet from a fire hydrant, it is a PC 10, the point at which most insurers will either not cover the property or charge a correspondingly high premium.

Day care business — Some carriers will insure a home with a day care business via an additional endorsement (for an additional premium), but others will not cover any home that houses a business with substantial foot traffic. Home offices and businesses that have incidental traffic are usually not a problem.

If you’re home shopping and curious about other potential insurance red flags, call me today and I’ll be happy to help.

Stephen Davis

sdavis@srfm.com

Sinclair Risk& Financial Management

_JBK5366

Are You Protecting Your Invaluable Collections?

How to Insure Valuables Fine Art, Wine, Jewelry & MoreOver the years, you may have developed a knowledge and love of wine and picked up a few special bottles, which turned into a few more and, before you knew it, you had an extensive – and expensive – wine collection.  What would happen if there was a flood in your home or you experienced a power outage that impacted your temperature-controlled cedar wine cellar? 

From wine to art to fine jewelry to exotic cars and yachts, many people fail to recognize these items that they enjoy for their aesthetic or leisurely qualities as the valuable investments they truly are and therefore, don’t properly protect them.   

Additionally, as people do estate planning, they also often overlook outlining their plans for these non-traditional valuables, like an antique jewelry collection or Bentley.

Here are five tips to ensure you properly protect your collections:

  • Secure Specialized and Periodic Appraisals: Make sure the person appraising your items has   expertise in your type of collectible so you get the most accurate appraisalRe-appraise your collectibles every two to three years and make sure you share them with your financial advisor, insurance company, tax attorney and estate planner so they can understand the value of your collection and the potential risks and benefits within your overall portfolio as well as any implications to your charitable giving wishes or estate planning.
  • Keep a Detailed Inventory: Document your collectibles, where and when they were purchased and for how much.  Update every time a new item is added to the collection and ensure there’s a complete, properly appraised inventory at all times as well as information on where certificates of authenticity are housed.
  • Assemble a Smart and Specialized Advisory Team Early: Work with an insurance firm, financial planner, tax attorney and estate planner who have expertise protecting and planning for the issues associated with these non-traditional investments.  It’s important to do this early, as your collection could have implications on your overall wealth, taxes and estate plans as it grows or diminishes in value.
  • Properly Insure your Collectibles: Make sure you choose an insurance company with expertise in providing coverage for your unique collection and coverage options that would truly account for their value.   These prized collections often mistakenly get tacked onto an existing homeowner’s insurance policy with very limited coverage that would never provide the value they truly hold if they needed to be replaced.
  • Make an Early Succession Plan: Whether you want to hand down your fine art collection to your son, donate it to a museum or have it auctioned off for charity, be sure to work with your team to detail your plans and to get their input on how to properly include them in your estate planning. 

By treating your collectibles like your other assets, you can enjoy your passions and ensure their potential returns and risks are managed and that they’re properly protected.  This will allow you – and your loved ones –to enjoy your collections now and in the future.

Mary McGrath

mmcgrath@srfm.com

Sinclair Risk & Financial Management

Mary McGrath

Be neighborly this winter…you just might save a life

_JBK5366Brrrr! Thoughts of escaping to spring unscathed by a harsh New England winter evaporated President’s Day weekend when the polar vortex bled into Valentine’s Day, putting a chilly damper on a supposedly spicy night.
Winter is here, no doubt, along with its usual inconveniences. But for the elderly, pets and wildlife, and anyone on the roads in a storm, winter can be not just a cold annoyance, but a deadly force.

The staff at Sinclair Risk is making a point of doing the neighborly thing and making sure the most vulnerable around us stay safe this season. Join us and enjoy the warm glow that comes from doing good for others…no fireplace needed.

Be neighborly, check up on those around you — When snowstorms hit or the temperature drops dramatically, give your elderly neighbor a call or knock on the door. Make sure she has heat, food, water, and electricity and offer to help shovel or blow the snow from sidewalks and driveways. (Better yet, if you have one, nominate your teenager to help!) Check in periodically throughout the storm.

Remember your pets (and everybody else’s) — If it’s too cold outside for you, it’s too cold outside for pets. Cats that like to roam and dogs used to spending time outside need to stay inside when bad weather strikes and temps are below freezing. During walks, short-haired dogs should wear a sweater (Facebookable moment!) But seriously…Pets are sensitive to severe cold and just like us, are at risk for frostbite and hypothermia. Make sure your pets and your neighbor’s pets are safe. Are there outdoor or feral cats in your area? Here’s a great article about how you can help them in winter. And here’s five ways you can help wildlife survive the winter.

iStock_000056466450LargeDrive with care — Driving with caution is always the neighborly thing to do…but especially during winter! Protect yourself and others on the road by slowing down when the white stuff is falling, when ice is on the ground, and when visibility is poor. Drive on slippery roads at reduced speed and increase following distance behind the vehicle ahead. This gives an additional space cushion for safe stopping. Anticipate stops by slowing down gradually and plan ahead for lane changes. Everything should feel like it’s in SLOW motion during winter driving.

Make sure you (and others!) are prepared for an emergency — Storms in our area feel like they are veering toward the extreme. Even a garden variety nor’easter can do significant damage to buildings, roofs, roads, and other infrastructure. A basic emergency supplies kit can help you weather the storm. After creating one for your family, consider helping an elderly neighbor get prepared.

Here are some key items to include in your kit:
• One gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, a smaller amount for pets
• At least a three-day supply of non-perishable food for people AND pets
• Manual can opener for canned food
• Battery-powered radio
• Flashlight
• Plenty of batteries
• First Aid Kit
• Whistle (can signal for help)
• Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties
• Cell phone with car and wall chargers
• Laptop/Tablet with car and wall chargers
• Prescription medication, glasses, contact lenses
• Cash

Being neighborly can help make winter safer and more fun for everyone. Take some time to lend a hand on your street.

Steve Davis

sdavis@srfm.com

Sinclair Risk & Financial Management