April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

April is distracted driving awareness month, distracted driving is anything to take someone’s mind off the primary task of driving. The act of distracted driving is the culprit for thousands of automobile deaths and injuries each year.

While most reported accidents  arise from texting and cell phone use, distractions can also include eating, grooming, using navigation systems, adjusting the radio, and talking to passengers. The most often heard reason given by drivers for an auto accident to officials is “I just took my eyes off the road for a second.”

The National Safety Council has declared April as the official awareness month for this issue and seeks to raise awareness by educating Americans on the dangers of distracted driving. Many insurance companies also offer free courses during April to address this as this is a major cause to auto claims each year.

What are some of the best ways to combat this?

  • Turning off your cell phone while driving- you can set up an automatic response to callers that you are driving and will return the call when available
  • Using a hands-free device
  • Pulling over before using mobile devices
  • Have a passenger respond to texts and calls
  • Plan ahead- get directions and navigation ready before you being driving
  • Save any grooming and tasks that take your eyes off the road or hands off the wheel for a safe location

Here is the official government website where you can get more information, if you have teen drivers this is an excellent resource…click here.

Also, if interested Philadelphia Insurance is hosting a free distracted driving online course, participants who complete this and take the survey will receive a certificate of completion as well as a First Aid Kit. Please click here for more information and to sign up.

Rising Breakfast Food Costs: Bringing Home the Bacon Has Become More Expensive

Noticed an increase in the price for breakfast foods in the grocery store? That is because the prices for such breakfast staples as bacon, coffee, eggs and orange juice has been on the rise. The biggest increase in nearly  2 1/2 years occurred last month with a 1.2% increase.

Cosumers are encouraged to be on a bargain hunt for these items. But already consumers are cutting back saying they may not be bringing home as much bacon.

What are the reasons?

  • Drought in Brazil- has decreased the coffee production by 20% this year
  • Disease epidemic to U.S. pig farms- this is increasing mortality rate in newborn piglets. Traders are not sure how much this will effect pork  production as it is the first time U.S. pig herds have been affected by this particular disease
  • The orange crop in Florida has also been hit this year. A citrus greening disease has orange production down almost 25%

These are the reasons breakfast has started coming with bigger sticker shock and this increase in food prices is forcing shoppers to search for deals and cut back. Couponing, making a list, and searching local ads for super market sales each week are the consumer tips to try and curb some of the rising costs.

 

 

Atlanta Film Festival 2014: March 28-April 6

Williams, Turner and Mathis would like to hightlight the 2014 Atlanta Film Festival as we are a proud sponsor of this event. Taking place from March 28 to April 6 this is the 38th annual Atlanta Film Festival.

It is one of the only 2 dozen qualifying Academy Award Festivals in the U.S.

It is a unique way to discover hundreds of new independent, international, animated, documentary and short films. This is a membership based program with events happening at their four locations all in Atlanta, The Plaza Theatre, 7 Stages Theatre, Goat Farm Arts Center and Callanwolde Arts Center.

Film viewings and workshops often include dialogues with with film makers and have premiered several celebrity producers and well known names in the insustry.

As this is an excellent and fun way to support the arts in Atlanta, click here for more information on events and how to attend!

Q&A with Lynn Mathis, Topic: Umbrella Insurance

umbrella-insurance

 

Question: Do I really need the extra Umbrella Coverage? What does it cover and why?

Answer: (Provided by Lynn Mathis)

The umbrella is simply providing an additional liability protection (umbrella coverage is usually an additional million or millions). The “rule of thumb” is to have enough liability to protect your assets. If you are working as a sole proprietor  consider this additional layer of protection primarily because you do not have the corporate veil protection afforded by operating as a corporation.

The reasoning is if someone is suing you they are going to go for a amount at least equal to your personal assets (current and future earnings included). We suggest you have your insurance at a higher level so they will be willing to settle for the insurance payout and not continue after your assets. There is no guarantee that will work, but it is a good place to start.   I don’t know what your personal assets are, so you will need to determine if 1 or 2 million (or higher) would be better.

Insure Your Bling

Valentine’s Day is second most popular holiday to propose. Insuring that important piece of jewelry may not sound very romantic but the peace of mind it will bring is a sweet feeling.

It’s easy! All you need is an appraisal from a certified gemologists as well as your receipts.

It won’t cost you much!- The yearly cost, depending on the policy should be around $1-$2 for every $100 that is would cost to replace. If the replacement cost were $9,000 it would be a reasonable policy to pay around $90-$180 per year to insure the ring.

Options! There are several ways you can insure the ring. You can add a “ring rider” to your renters’ or homeowners’ policy for a certain dollar value to cover the ring. Another option is to have a specific jewelry policy if the total value of jewelry pieces is high.

What to Remember! When shopping read the small print or consult with your local agent. A good policy will protect from such events as losing the ring, damaging the ring and other potentially ring-threatening situations.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Coming Soon: Sochi Winter Olympics

 

sochi1We are at the one week countdown to the highly anticipated 2014 Sochi Olympic Games. The olympic events will begin live on February 6. Here are some highlights about the sports, venues and medals you can expect to see at this year’s winter olympic events.

 

 

The Sports

 

Alpine Skiing, also known as downhill skiing is the sport of sliding downhill on skis with fixed-hill bindings. There are 10 medal events.

Freestyle Skiing, skiing and doing aerials, moguls, skicross and boardercross off a half pike. 10 events to medal.

Ski Jumping, sport where skiers take off down a ramp and attempt to land as far as possible down the hill. There are 4 medal events.

 

Biathlon, Winter Sport that combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. There will be 11 medal events.

 

Bobsleigh, winter sport where a team of two or four in a gravity powered sled, speed down a narrow, twisting ice bank. Timed runs are combined for final score. Three Medal Events.

Luge,  small one or 2 person sled, the participant lies on his/her back feet first and steers with calf of each leg or shoulder pressure on the seat, there are 4 medal events.

Skeleton, winter sport where individual rides face down on a small sled on an ice track. There are 2 medal events

 

Cross Country Skiing, winter sport where skiers propel themselves across snowy terrain using skis and poles, there are 12 medal events.

Nordic Combined, combinations of cross-country skiing and ski jumping. There are 3 medal events.

 

Figure Skating, winter olympics  have both duos and individuals. There are 5 medal events.

 

Curling, players slide stones down swept ice toward target areas worth a different number of points, teams have 8 stones to accumulate the highest number of points. There are 2 medal events.

 

Ice Hockey, has been in all olympic games, both men and women teams will be competing in 2 medaling events.

 

Snowboarding, is the newest sport to hit the winter olympic scene since 1998. Now it includes, half pipe, cross, slopestyle and parallel special slalom. There are 10 medaling events.

 

Speed Skating, competitors will race on long track, short track and marathon track. Twelve Medal Events.

To see Team USA and medals received in past winter olympics for each of these sports, click here.

The Medals

 

This year’s Sochi medals were unveiled and contain some unique details. Medals contain the landscape of Sochi and olympic rings, The reverse side contains the name of the competition in Russian, French and English.  For more information click here.

The Venues

 

Spreading across two district clusters, Sochi has 11 newly built arenas to stage he Sochi Olympics. Click here for more info.

The Schedule

 

The NBC Network will be hosting this year’s Winter Sochi Olympics.

For information on the schedule, team and special features, click here.

Go Team USA!

 

 

How to Select a Contractor

 

Picture1-300x284With the freezing temperatures across the country, many people have been running into an increasing number of water claims needing mitigation service. Following this the onset for the need of mitigation services, many have been experiencing difficulties getting quick service as many are operating at full capacity.

While it is first advised that you work with a preffered contractor of your insurance company, many insurance companies are advising customers to do what they can do to reduce their loss by contacting other mitigation companies if assistance is delayed.

Which brings up the question, ‘Who to Trust?’, here are a few here are a few questions to ask the contractor that should answer your question:

  • Does the contractor want payment up front?
  • Can the the contractor provide References?
  • Do they have an active license?
  • Are they bonded or insured?
  • Does the company have a local office or have a local telephone number?

If any of the above questions are not answered favorably, these are red flags that you should look elsewhere.

Was your Credit Card And Personal Information a “Target”?: Tips for all Target Customers

As news became public last month that the holiday Target hack stole 40 million credit card and debit card consumer information, this brought into spotlight once again the potential for identity theft everywhere we shop. Then this month when it was announced that the hack also broke into the Target massive information database with a potential exposure of 70 million consumers, even I began to look over my statements and banking information to make sure there was no unwanted activity. This compromised phone numbers, emails and home addresses.

According to the Consumer Federation of America Advocate, Susan Grant: ” The possibilities are so much greater now that this other information has been compromised.”

In light of this, Target has set up several avenues to support as they conduct the investigation to see how far back this goes, banks have also been active in taking measures to try to protect customer information that was potentially compromised during the breach.

Here are some specific things to keep in mind in reference to this and to how to avoid being a victim of identity theft with the information that hackers now have.

  • Watch out! Be on the look out for fake phones calls, emails and letters in the mail now that all 3 forms of communication are available to them. Do not supply personal information or click on any links even if it looks official. Instead, if you are concerned consider going directly to the source. If a bank or target calls your phones and says you  have been affected by the Target hack. Call the bank number on the back of your credit card to resolve the issue. If an email claims to be from Target, go to Target.com/databreach.
  • It’s Free! Sign up for free fraud monitoring. Target is offering one year free credit monitoring for anyone who has shopped in their U.S stores as well identity protection. Click here for instructions on how to sign up.
  • It’s Your Call! Don’t wait for a call from Target, a bank or your credit card company. Call and let them know if you shopped at Target during the period of concern. Many banks as well as Target with their “Red Cards” have been issuing new cards and supplying new PINS as a precaution. Target has a phone line for any customer that suspects fraud on their credit card, (866-852-8680)
  • Important Homework Assignment: Given the nature of the personal information that is at risk, review any website that manages your credit card. If they have access to your email and any credit or debit information they could possibly try to log-on as you.

Lastly, please contact your agent, WTM to make sure you have the appropriate Identity Theft Protection on your policy. Likewise, businesses should make sure that they have a Cybersecurity policy in place, should any of their customer information be compromised in any way.

 

January is National Blood Donor Month

January has been designated National Blood Donor Month to raise awareness for blood donation during a time of the year when blood donations are down. Did you know that there is a huge decline in donations during the post-holiday season? This is attributed to the fact that there is often inclement weather and busy schedules following the holidays.

Blood only has a shelf life of 42 days, to ensure stable inventory there needs to be a constant supply available to premature babies, cancer patients and people who have had accidents or other illnesses that require a transfusions.

Eligible donors are people age 17(or 16 with parental consent) and older who weigh at least 110 pounds and meet height and weight requirements.

So consider making an appointment this month while donations tend to fall to their lowest levels!

To make an appointment call 1-800-REDCROSS.

To find a donation center or blood drive closest to your place of work or home visit, redcross.org

Here are some donation centers in the Atlanta area, and there are also blood drives in your area as the American Red Cross hosts more than 200,000 blood drives nationwide each year, look for these local drives on the above listed website.

Cobb Donor Center 2145 Roswell Rd, Ste 250 Marietta, GA. 30062

Gainesville Donor Center  311 Jesse Jewell Pkwy,SW Gainesville, GA. 30503

Alpharetta Donor Center  3000 Old Alabama Rd Alpharetta, GA. 30022

Duluth Donor Center  3090 Premiere Pkwy Duluth, GA. 30097

Midtown Donor Center 1955 Monroe Drive, NE Atlanta, GA 30324

Blood Statistics and Trivia (Red Cross)

  • Every 2 seconds someone in the US needs blood
  • One pint of blood can save up to 3 lives
  • More than 41,000 blood donations are needed daily
  • Five million patients in the U.S. need blood each year
  • Less that 38% of the population is eligible to give blood
  • Thirty million blood components are transfused each year

Atlanta Holiday Activities

Whether you are looking for fun holiday event to take the family to or looking for a charitable deed to give back this holiday season. Atlanta has all kinds of traditional, delightful and charitable events to get you in the holiday spirit.

Here is a guide to just a few of the main attractions you can check out in Atlanta this holiday season that can be enjoyed by all.

Atlanta Events to “Light” up the Night

  • Garden Lights, Holiday Lights  (Atlanta Botanical Gardens) 11/16/13-1/4/2014 See your favorite Atlanta gardens transformed into a twinkling winter wonderland. A favorite local event the whole family will love. Click here for more information.
  • Magical Night of Lights (Lake Lanier Islands Resort) 11/15/13-12/31/13 Drive over Snowflake Bridge , tour the 12 days of Christmas, view the like nativity and much more at Lake Lanier. A little outside of town, this will be worth the driver. Click here for more information.
  • Callaway Gardens Fantasy in Lights (Callaway Gardens) 11/22/13-12/30/2013 Over 8 million lights, 15 dazzling scenes, and a night full of fun. For more information on how to light up your night at Callaway click here.
  • Gift of Lights at Atlanta Motor Speed Way (Atlanta Motor Speed Way) 11/22/13-1/4/2014 This speed way turns into one of the largest drive-through Christmas light parks! Click here for more information.

Family Winter fun events

  • Macy’s Pink Pig at Lenox Square (Lenox) 11/2/13-1/5/2014 Take advantage of Atlanta’s most iconic and beloved tradition. Priscilla the pig will be once again taking kids through a life sized story book in the 1950’s themed Pink Pig tent. Click here for more information.
  • Centennial Olympic Park Ice Rink and Holiday in Lights  11/23/13-1/4/14 Experience the downtown  Atlanta park come to life with lights and offer Atlanta’s outdoors ice skating rink. Click here for more information
  • Atlantic Station Winter Wonderland and Ice Skating Rink 11/15/13-2/14/14 A modern-day winter wonderland will be the back drop for a 10,000 Square foot open air ice skating rink. In addition to all of the available restaurants and retail. Click here for more information.
  • Horse Drawn Sleigh Rides Through Vinings Jubilee 12/20/13 only! Have a romantic ride through the Vinings shopping district. These complimentary horse-drawn sleigh rides will add an element of fun and romance to your shopping experience.

Christmas Shows Playing in Atlanta

  • A Christmas Carol Playing at the Alliance Theatre (11/29/13-12/29/13) click here for more information. Also playing at Shakespeare’s Tavern (12/5/2013-12/23/2013), click here for more information. Enjoy this Christmas classic live on stage at either one of these great downtown locations!
  • A Christmas Tradition Playing at Earl Smith Strand Theatre(12/6/13-12/22/13)During the first three weekends of December, The Strand will be hosting a big and elaborate production with voices and high energy dances to all of the classics in “A Christmas Tradition”. Click here for more information.
  • Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker Playing at the Fox Theatre (12/6/13-12/29/13) This season brings the return of Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker to the Fox. For more information click here. No better way to get into the holiday spirit.
  • It’s a Wonderful Life  Playing at Ferst Center for the Arts at Georgia Tech. 12/17/13-12/29/13) Come see your favorite Holiday story live on stage. Click here for more information.

Holiday Volunteer Opportunities for the Family in the Atlanta Area

  • Senior Connections This organization provides meals, housecleaning, home repairs and visits to seniors. Families can volunteer to help prepare and deliver food to seniors on Christmas day this year. This can also be done on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis as a volunteer opportunity. Click here for more information.
  • Atlanta Community Food Bank  They deliver of 15 million lbs of food each year through Atlanta and North Ga. This requires over 15,000 volunteers, families can volunteer through organizing a food drive in their local community or in the product rescue center to inspect, sort and pack items donated for distribution. Click here for more information on how to get involved.
  • Buckhead Christian Ministry Volunteer here to host or stock shelves for a toys for the “Joyous Toy Stores” where needy parents are given vouchers to shop for toys for their children. Another option is to “Adopt-a-Family” and fulfill the wishes on their holiday list. For more information go here.

These are just a few of many volunteer opportunities, for more information and resources to pair you with individual and family opportunities click here.

Here’s to WTM wishing you a Christmas filled with fun, family and great memories!