Things That Are Hard to Find at Hotels Anymore

Things That Are Hard to Find at Hotels Anymore

Staying at hotels and motels has changed dramatically over the years. Inns along the road used to advertise “air conditioning,” “Color TV,” and “Free Local Phone Calls” as features. Those eventually changed to “Cable TV,” “Room Service,” and “Swimming Pools”. Today, some items are becoming extinct, or at least, hard to find when staying on the road. Here are a few.

Mini-Bars

Mini-bars used to be a staple in hotel and motel rooms. They offered miniature bottles of liquor, beer, soda, snacks, and water at exorbitant prices, but still tempted everyone who stayed there. A $6 bottle of water or a Snickers bar? Yes, please, may I have another.

Room Service

Some higher-end hotels with on-site restaurants still offer the service, but it is becoming harder to find. For families, it is just too expensive, and pizza or a restaurant delivery service is a more affordable option.

Magic Fingers

Many hotels and motels used to offer “Magic Fingers” on their beds. These motorized devices would provide a vibrating massage while laying on a bed equipped with the feature. A quarter would provide several minutes of vibration. We couldn’t make that up.

Free Postcards, Ashtrays, and Matchbooks

Well, the postcards and matchbooks were free. The branded ashtrays may have been just a bit sketchy to take following your stay. Today, you may be lucky to get a pen and a notepad and a small bottle of shampoo.

Mints on Pillows

Yes, there was a time when you would be greeted by mints, candies, or chocolates on the bed pillows when you entered a room. All things considered, this is probably okay.

Metal Mechanical Room Keys

It is far more likely to get a plastic key card or even a code on your smartphone than a traditional physical key. The bonus? Maybe a discount at a local pizza shop.

Staying on the road has changed, but it has always evolved. More people are choosing to stay at home exchanges or private home rentals. It still can be a fun adventure.

If you haven’t compared your auto, home, life, or business insurance lately, you may find that things have changed. Prices have become more competitive, and you may be able to save money. Contact one of our independent insurance agents for an update today!

Thoughts About Naming a New Business

Thoughts About Naming a New Business

Do you have a small business? You probably remember exactly why you named it what you did. There are multiple approaches to naming a business, ranging from the practical to the personal. Here’s a look at some of those approaches and the positive and negative aspects of each.

A Family Focused Name

Family associated names can convey a personal approach. They tend to put your reputation on the line. Example names could include last names like “Smith’s Plumbing and Heating” or “Jones and Sons Landscaping.”

First Name Companies

It couldn’t get any more homespun or friendly than naming a business after the primary stakeholder. There’s something simple and attractive about names like “Lisa’s Pet Grooming,” “Mark’s Electric,” or “Steve’s Storage.”

Alphabetically Friendly

When the yellow pages were a critical source for finding products and services, some businesses chose an alphabetically-friendly name to keep their name at the top of their business category. It is why companies use “A-1,” “AAA,” “Acme,” or “Apex” in their business names. With digital searches, it is less critical today, but many still subscribe to the practice.

Community Focus

Since many search by product name and location today, community names are playing a role in business names. “Smithville Plumbing,” “Anytime Real Estate,” or “Smallville Remodeling” could pay dividends.

Names That Convey Size and Strength

Small businesses can often benefit from creating an impression of size and experience. “Gold Metal Roofing,” “Legacy Bookkeeping and Accounting,” and “Five-Star Landscaping” are a few examples.

A business name can help with branding and can even make a company easier to transfer or sell in the future. It is worth giving some serious thought and research to.

If you have a business, is it being protected through business insurance? We can help. Connect with us and let’s discuss your business and its risks. We will search our network of companies to craft a business insurance policy to fit your needs and your budget. Connect with us to get started today. You took the time to carefully name your business. Now it is time to carefully protect it.

Can Healthcare Be Interesting?

Can Healthcare Be Interesting?

As important as doctors, medical facilities, and medicine can be to us, mention healthcare to most people and their eyes can glaze over. A little research, however, can dig up some interesting facts about the subject.

Let us take doctors as an example. Did you know there are about 1,020,000 licensed physicians in the U.S.? That’s about a 20% increase over ten years ago. Only about 36% of physicians are female. On the other hand, there are about 4.2 million RNs and LPNs in the United States. Only 12 percent of registered nurses are male.

Doctors still make a good living. In 2020, the average primary care physician made $243,000 while specialists made about $100,000 more.

There are far fewer hospitals and hospital beds in the United States than many imagine. There are 6,093 hospitals. In comparison, there are over twice as many (13,438) McDonald’s locations. The number of hospital beds has dropped significantly in the past fifty years. It is estimated that there are now about 900,000 hospital beds in the country. That is down from 1.5 million in 1975.

If it seems like everyone you know is on prescription drugs, you are not far off. Almost 70 percent of Americans take at least one prescribed medication, and more than half take at least two. Topping the list of prescribed drugs are antibiotics, antidepressants, and opioid painkillers.

Alright, so medical statistics may not exactly be a page-turner, but they sure can put things in perspective. They also can be critical to our quality of life and the health of our families.

Are you also aware that less than half of Americans carry life insurance? This is a bit surprising considering the cost of final expenses, credit cards, debts, and consumer loans we carry. Life insurance, specifically term insurance, can be very affordable, especially if you are young and in good health. See for yourself. Get a no-obligation price quote from one of our independent agents today. We look forward to assisting you.

The Land of Misfit Cars

The Land of Misfit Cars

The land of misfit toys has been a part of the storyline of features ranging from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to the Polar Express. It got us thinking about those “swing and a miss” models of cars that were manufactured throughout the years. If there was a land of misfit cars, it may include these vehicles.

The Thing from Volkswagen

This incredibly unattractive vehicle looked like part lunar lander and part Beverly Hillbillies truck. Some thought, perhaps, VW purchased an aluminum siding company and decided to build cars with the materials. It was marketed in the United States for just two years, in 1973 and 1974.

The AMC Gremlin

If a car’s name fits its name, this is it. The Gremlin targeted drivers under 35, and in that area, it was a success. It sold just over 25,000 in 1970 and doubled that in 1971.

The AMC Pacer

The second American Motors entry to make our list is the Pacer, produced from 1975 to 1980. It had massive curved windows and an oddly shaped body, but it did have a large interior space and great views! An oddity about the Pacer is that its passenger-side door was larger than the driver’s side door to facilitate easier rear seat entry and exit. It was, however, expensive to repair, something that was required frequently.

Subaru BRAT

Sold in the US from 1978 to 1987, this was a small utility truck that was designed for drivers looking for something else. Apparently, they are still looking. BRAT, by the way, actually stood for Bi-Drive, Recreational, All-Terrain Transporter.

The Pontiac Aztec

GM produced the Aztec, from 2002 until 2006 in part, to show the world how hip and cool the manufacturer was. GM was neither. The front end looked like it had a beak and innovative interior features included a tissue box in the glove compartment. At a time when other car-makers were making hay with sport utility vehicles, Pontiac tried creating its own niche with its “sports recreational vehicle.” It was just a bit odd.

Are you ready to save money on your car insurance rates? We may be able to help. Our independent auto insurance agents have access to a network of insurance companies and can do the shopping for you. Contact us for your free quote today.

Bugs, Insects, Pests, and Home Insurance

Bugs, Insects, Pests, and Home Insurance

We secure home insurance to help protect our investment. It provides peace of mind knowing that if there is a fire, damaging storm, vandalism, or theft, our home will be covered based on the terms of the policy. It is worthwhile to note, however, that a home insurance policy doesn’t cover everything. Flooding, for example, is not covered under base homeowners’ insurance policies. Another exclusion to be aware of is that of infestations.

In general, infestations are not covered under the terms of a basic home insurance policy. This includes mice, rats, and insects. The damage and/or removal of these pests are normally not covered under most policies.

These types of infestations are often excluded from coverage because they are viewed by the insurance company as a maintenance issue. While home insurance will generally cover damage caused by a covered calamity, it will most not often cover damage that results from a lack of maintenance. Even a wooden fence that sustained damage from insects and falls may be excluded from coverage.

That being said, some damage as a result of pest activity may be covered. If chewed wiring, for example, that a homeowner was not aware of caused a fire, damage from that fire would likely be covered.

Termite treatments and damage from termites are also rarely covered. If, however, you are paying for regular termite treatments, and you sustain damage, you may be able to seek financial restitution from the pest control company.It is worthwhile to check your pest control warranty before you experience an issue.

It can be risky to make assumptions about your home insurance until there is a claim. A regular home insurance review can keep you on top of your coverage and identify where there may be gaps. Our independent home insurance agents are qualified to review policies issued by any company. We can not only review your coverage, but we can provide you with a no-obligation price quote. We look forward to assisting you in protecting your investment.

Garage Sale Bingo

Garage Sale Bingo

If you love going to garage and yard sales, you know there are certain items that you are more likely to see than others. This lends itself to a game within the game…garage sale bingo. Here are easy to find items you want on your bingo card.

Exercise Equipment

From weights to treadmills, you are likely to at least see some exercise equipment on your travels. We are not sure what that says about us, but anyone who likes going to yard sales will testify that it is true.

Bread Makers

We guess once you make bread, you’ve done it and the thrill is gone. Either that or it is much easier to spend a couple of bucks to buy a loaf.

Holiday Decorations

You may find some beautiful hand-crafted vintage items or bags of questionable mini-lights, but almost every yard or garage sale may have some holiday decorations. If you focus on particular items like Santa’s or snowmen you may find some treasures. It may also just be another mark on your garage sale bingo card.

DVDs and CDs

These are a frequent sight at garage sales as technology changes. Discs that at one time cost $15-$20 or more can now be found for 50 cents to a dollar.

Cables, Cords, and Chargers

If you can find the exact one you need, it is jackpot time. If not, you may just encounter a box of tangled cords. Cords and cables and chargers are so commonly found they might as well be a Free Space in garage bingo.

Crutches/Walker

You always hope the previous user got better, but rehabilitation items always seem to have an aura about them. If you see them, it is another mark on your bingo card.

Souvenirs

It is interesting to see where people have been. Pennants, shot glasses, thimbles, plates, and small spoons are just a few of the items they have invested heavily in, only to sell them for a quarter or two.

You can probably add more to the list, including shoes, old computer items, children’s car seats, board games, and loads of other items. Want to add some interest to your next Saturday of going to garage sales? Create your own bingo card or scavenger hunt to add to the fun.

Shopping for insurance may not exactly be fun, but we can make it easier and maybe even more affordable. Contact one of our independent insurance agents for a quote on your auto, home, life, or business insurance.

Give It Away

Give It Away

There was a time when even small businesses protected secrets about how they conducted their businesses. At one time, there was more of a “bunker mentality” and an attitude of “If I told you I would have to kill you” attitude. Today, businesses have found a more valuable and viable approach to their knowledge and experience. They have discovered the value of “giving it away.”

Don’t panic. We are not talking about giving away your products or services. We are talking about being more free with sharing the knowledge you have about your chosen business.

Why?

More businesses are discovering the value of positioning themselves as the thought leader or expert in their business segment. When a business is perceived as an expert on a subject, potential customers eventually seek them out. This attracts customers into a marketing funnel that a business can nurture into an expanding customer base.

Positioning yourself as the expert can be done through social media, newsletters, direct mail, email, and a variety of other ways. Offer free tips and tricks, take and share the results of an online survey, and post a list of FAQs. You can also write timely seasonal press releases for your local media or offer quotes on news stories that may be impacted by your product or service. In short, you want to become the go-to resource in your community for your product category. You will then begin to see a more steady stream of potential customers coming to you.

Building a business involves more than just building your customer list. It means protecting the company you have built so far. This is the purpose of business insurance. A well-designed business plan can better protect your business from financial losses related to theft, vandalism, storm damage, slip and falls, and other liability claims. It can protect your income, real estate, and vehicles. Contact us to discuss your business and how it can be better protected. We look forward to assisting you.

Life’s Challenges and Rewards

Life’s Challenges and Rewards

One of the amazing things about this journey called life is just how often things work out. Not always, of course, but often enough to bring a much-needed smile, a laugh, or to keep us moving forward.

Let’s take relationships, for example. Just when we think we may never find that special person or are hurting from a breakup, someone may appear out of seemingly nowhere. Not always, of course, but enough to keep us interested and in the game.

When we have babies, the worry is constant. How are they progressing? Are we providing a great environment? Are they learning enough at the right pace?

Then there’s that first day of school; fighting back the tears until they are out of sight.

Then an amazing thing happens. They are alright and you are fine. In fact, you may find you can get more things done and may even have a few minutes for yourself.

But as your child reaches their teenage years, there can be a rocky road for a bit. You begin to worry about them becoming old enough to drive. But then another interesting thing happens. When they get their driver’s license, they can take themselves to practice and shopping. They can even run errands for you. You may never stop worrying, but you realize this just may work out.

Of course, when they go to college, it all starts again. Will they be alright? Will they find good people to hang out with? Will they make good choices? Then it happens again. They are off, hopefully, making you proud, and you have your house back. It just may bring another smile.

The story repeats itself in many ways. Some of the things we worry most about never happen. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared, however.

That’s a big reason to have adequate life insurance…to be prepared. No, it can’t prevent bad things from happening, but it can help reduce stress and worry. It can help ensure things work out.

If you would like to discuss how life insurance can add to the quality of your life, contact one of our independent life insurance agents. It is more affordable to get than many realize, and it is easy to get started. We look forward to assisting you.

Frequent After-Market Add-ons for Cars and Trucks

Frequent After-Market Add-ons for Cars and Trucks

There’s no question we love our vehicles in America, so much so that we can’t seem to leave them alone. New or used, we need to tinker, upgrade, and make them our own…often to the tune of thousands of dollars. Here are just a few of the more frequent alterations we make to our cars and trucks.

Sound Systems

This is nothing new, of course, but now instead of 8-track stereo systems and FM converters it is more about power and bass. Thunder in the distance? Nope. It’s just the neighbor getting home on a Friday.

Enhanced Lighting

Pickup truck, Jeep, and SUV owners love ’em. Oncoming drivers have a different emotion. LED, brilliant, colorful, and custom lighting certainly adds a flare to new vehicles and can even make it better to see the road.

Upgraded Wheels and Tires

There was a time when 17-inch tires seemed extreme. Wheels and tires just seem to be getting bigger and more elaborate. Oh, by the way, they are also getting MUCH more expensive. You can easily invest several thousand dollars in specialty rims and tires.

Video Cameras

Video cameras in cars started as an enhancement to rear view mirrors. Today, they can provide 360-degree views around your vehicle, video capture your trips, and even provide security when your car is parked. Some amazing incidents have been captured by dash cams around the world.

Rugged Front Bumpers

As if today’s full-size pickup trucks weren’t intimidating enough, aftermarket companies have found a lucrative market in selling bulky add-on bumpers that seem to be able to take on the world. From flat black to chrome, the choice is yours. After-market truck bumpers are terrific for those who enjoy off-roading or for those who want to appear that they go off-roading.

Adding after-market features to your car or truck can make it more practical and safer. It can also make it more stylish and enjoyable. It also likely adds value to your vehicle. That’s why it is important you connect with your independent auto insurance agent when considering upgrades to your vehicle. This can help make sure your vehicle is insured for its upgraded value. Contact us today to discuss your vehicle and your options.

Getting Serious About Energy Savings

Getting Serious About Energy Savings

Most people have at least taken some steps to save energy in their homes. It may be energy-saving light bulbs, buying Energy Star appliances or even upgrading to a smart thermostat. While these may save some energy and a few dollars, there are more significant steps you can take. If you want to vastly reduce or even eliminate your energy bill, here are some serious steps you can take.

Replace Your HVAC

Most of the energy used in a home is usually from its heating and air conditioning systems. If your HVAC system is approaching 15 years of age or older, proactively replacing it with an energy efficient system can pay for itself. A new system can save 60% or more over an old, outdated HVAC system. While you are at it, have your ducts cleaned and sealed.

Add Solar Power

Solar energy is becoming more practical, affordable, and powerful. You can use free energy when the sun shines, sell your excess energy back to your power company, and just pay for the power you use at night, or add batteries to store your own energy for use as needed. Systems start at about the cost of a good used car.

Upgrade Windows and Doors

If your home has single-pane windows and old doors, a lot of the power you are paying for is escaping. New windows can quiet your home, beautify it, add value and save energy.

Add Insulation

Adding insulation and filling gaps around windows and doors can keep treated air from escaping. You may also want to insulate the inside of your garage door.

Major investments in energy-saving upgrades can be expensive. However, consider how much you are paying in annual energy bills. These investments can pay for themselves rather quickly and add significant value to your home.

You’ll want to make sure, whether it is solar panels or a new HVAC system, you notify your independent home insurance agent of any major upgrades made to your home. It may also be a good time for a homeowner’s insurance review. We can even provide a price quote for an upgraded policy. Contact us today.