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Spring Pet Safety

- Monday, April 25, 2022
Lallis and Higgins Insurance - Pet Safety

Spring has sprung, and with the change of season, our thoughts turn to spring cleaning and much-needed home improvement projects. Before you embark on seasonal chores or outdoor revelry, take inventory of potential springtime hazards for your furry friends.

*If you suspect your pet may have come in contact with or ingested a potentially poisonous substance, contact your local veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center immediately at (888) 426-4435.

Easter Treats and Decorations

Keep lilies and candy in check—chocolate goodies are toxic to cats and dogs, and all true lilies can be fatal if ingested by cats. And be mindful, kitties love to nibble on colorful plastic grass, which can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting and dehydration. Moreover, while live bunnies, chicks and other festive animals are adorable, resist the urge to buy them—these cute babies grow up fast and often require specialized care!

Screen Yourself

Many pet parents welcome the breezy days of spring by opening their windows. Unfortunately, they also unknowingly put their pets at risk—especially cats, who are apt to jump or fall through unscreened windows. Be sure to install snug and sturdy screens in all of your windows.

Buckle Up!

While most dogs love to feel the wind on their furry faces, allowing them to ride in the beds of pick-up trucks or stick their heads out of moving-car windows is dangerous. Flying debris and insects can cause inner ear or eye injuries and lung infections, and abrupt stops or turns can cause major injury, or worse! Pets riding in cars should always be secured in a crate or wearing a seatbelt harness designed especially for them.

Spring Cleaning

Spring cleaning is a time-honored tradition in many households, but be sure to keep all cleaners and chemicals out of your pets’ way! Almost all cleaning products, even all natural ones, contain chemicals that may be harmful to pets. The key to using them safely is to read and follow label directions for proper use and storage.

Home Improvement 101

Products such as paints, mineral spirits and solvents can be toxic to your pets and cause severe irritation or chemical burns. Carefully read all labels to see if the product is safe to use around your furry friends. Also, be cautious of physical hazards, including nails, staples, insulation, blades and power tools. It may be wise to confine your dog or cat to a designated pet-friendly room during home improvement projects.

Let Your Garden Grow—With Care

Pet parents, take care—fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides keep our plants and lawns healthy and green, but their ingredients may be dangerous if your pet ingests them. Always store these products in out-of-the-way places and follow label instructions carefully. Many popular springtime plants—including rhododendron and azaleas—are also highly toxic to pets and can prove fatal if eaten.


Like us, pets can be allergic to foods, dust, plants and pollens. Allergic reactions in dogs and cats can cause itching, minor sniffling and sneezing, or life-threatening anaphylactic shock to insect bites and stings. If you suspect your pet has a springtime allergy, please visit your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Pesky Little Critters

April showers bring May flowers—and an onslaught of bugs! Make sure your pet is on year-round heartworm preventive medication, as well as a flea and tick control program. Ask your doctor to recommend a plan designed specifically for your pet.

Out and About

Warmer weather means more trips to the park, longer walks and more chances for your pet to wander off! Make sure your dog or cat has a microchip for identification and wears a tag imprinted with your home address, cell phone and any other relevant contact information.

Home Security Tips

- Monday, April 18, 2022
Lallis & Higgins Insurance - Home Security

Home security has become an important issue for everyone, no matter where you live. While there's no foolproof way to stop every break-in, many burglaries are preventable. Keep in mind that burglars search for easy targets.

Here are some security measures that may force burglars to look elsewhere:

Use the right locks and solid doors

    Choose a single-cylinder dead bolt lock backed by a reinforcing strike-plate with three-inch screws. The dead bolt should be at least one inch thick and extend at least one inch into the doorframe when locked. Standard door locks may not be enough to deter experienced thieves. For example, a thief can open key-in-the-knob spring bolt locks by pushing back the lock bolt with a credit card or similar flexible object.

    Use solid core or metal clad entrance doors along with sturdy door frames firmly attached to your home. Many intruders enter residences by physically destroying lightweight hollow core doors and flimsy door frames.

    Be sure entrance doors have wide-angle peepholes or view grills so you can see visitors without opening the door. Ask anyone who comes to your door for identification before allowing them inside.

Secure sliding patio doors and windows:

    For best protection, use a bolt lock.

    Second choice would be a dowel or pipe in the slider track. This helps, but isn't perfect. Thieves can bypass them by lifting the doors or windows out of their slide channels. You can help prevent this by tightening adjustment screws to eliminate "play" in a door or window.

Protect your home with proper lighting:

    Keep entryways, pathways, stairwells, porches, yards and parking areas well lit.

    Mount lights up high so burglars can't easily unscrew bulbs.

Don't give thieves an easy way in:

    Keep shrubs trimmed away from your home. Prune back tree limbs, particularly from upper windows and porch roofs.

    Keep your garage locked, along with any storage sheds on your property, especially if they contain tools or ladders thieves can use to break into your home. Use a quality dead bolt lock here, too, if you can.

    Invest in a heavy-duty gun-safe if you have firearms in your home. This will keep guns out of criminal-hands, as well as away from children, friends and relatives who don't know how to handle firearms safely.

10 Tips for Buying Classic Cars

- Monday, April 11, 2022
Lallis and Higgins Insurance - Buying Classic Cars

Turning an antique bucket of bolts into a cherry ride takes know-how — and making a profit is even trickier. Here's what you need to think about.

It's a used car

A classic car is, strictly speaking, a used car. A special used car, to be sure. A classic is defined as:

  • A motor vehicle 10 or more years old, which is rare or of special historical interest because of exceptionally fine workmanship or limited production. A classic motor vehicle 25 years old or older is covered as an antique.
  • Antique Automobile: A motor vehicle 25 or more years old.
  • Purchased thoughtfully and restored knowledgeably, some classic cars do appreciate. Plenty depreciate, though. You can’t know the market value of a vehicle until you sell it, and lots can go wrong before then. The market for collector cars, like markets for stocks or corn futures, is subject to unpredictable forces, like the larger economy and the changing tastes and emotions of buyers.

Here are 10 rules of the road for buying a classic car:

1. Get a professional inspection before buying

You can go online and research prices that restored vintage vehicles are commanding. There’s so much information out there that it’s possible to delude yourself into thinking you know what you are doing. You start dreaming of a slam-dunk deal when you find an old hulk at a bargain price.

Making a nice profit isn’t simple, though. Don’t buy a vintage car without having an experienced mechanic, whose credentials you know and trust, evaluate the vehicle’s condition and assess the cost of the renovation.

2. Say “no” to rust

When you see major rust on a vehicle’s body, run. Rust damage makes it unlikely you’ll be able to restore a vehicle to classic condition.

3. Research insurance costs

Surprisingly, insurance can be cheaper for antique cars. But there’s a catch: To get low rates you can’t drive your collector car much. Specialized policies for antique vehicles often have lower premiums because the cars are babied and driven less.

When it comes to insurance, there are a lot of different options based on how the car is valued and driven.

Even if you drive your classic, shop to compare policy options. You may be paying too much with a traditional auto policy.

4. Decide whether to drive it

You’ll have to decide if your classic car is too precious to drive. A vehicle’s worth depends on its condition, so taking it on the road risks damaging its value.

Collectors should not to be so fussy that they miss the joy of ownership. Get out and drive it, he says:

Generally speaking, when it comes to classic cars, Americans are obsessed with perfection. So much so that we are willing to trade it off for the enjoyment that the car might otherwise provide.

5. Factor in the cost of upkeep

If you are thinking of buying a vintage vehicle to drive, remember that it is one old car. Brauer tells of buying a 1970 Plymouth GTX for $4,000, driving it for 24 years and selling it for $24,000. Sounds like a decent deal, he says, until you realize that he spent $15,000 on upkeep, including rebuilding the engine and refreshing the interior, repainting and repairing rust and dents, insurance, fuel and regular maintenance. His profit on the “investment:” $5,000.

Now ask your accountant ‘Is a $5,000 return on a $19,000 expenditure, over 24 years, a good investment?

6. Understand the cost and availability of parts

Parts for these rare old beasts can themselves be rare — and pricey. Again, do your research to be sure you’re ready for that expense.

7. Find a mechanic before you buy

Buying a collector car means that, unless you do the work yourself, you could be at the mercy of a few experts who command high rates. Scope out the availability of these mechanics in your area who can do the job, and learn about their rates and background.

8. Follow your heart

Because you realize that car collecting is a hobby, not an investment, don’t ever buy a car that you’re not deeply passionate about.

Don’t buy a vehicle that you aren’t aching to drive. Don’t buy a car just because it seems like a great deal. If you don’t have the love, don’t bother.

9. Muscle cars are having a moment

If you love “gas hogs” you are lucky. Today, big, vintage American “big-block” cars with enormous motors are very hot.

Camaros, Corvettes, Chevelles, Mustangs … those are considered the big blocks.

10. Run the numbers — these numbers

Although few things guarantee you’ll make money on a vintage car, one factor helps enormously: ensuring that numbers on three of the important vehicle parts — the engine, transmission and rear axle — all correspond to the car’s VIN (vehicle identification number) that is stamped on it in the factory:


Distracted Driving Awareness Month: How to Avoid Texting While Driving

- Tuesday, April 05, 2022
Lallis and Higgins Insurance - Distracted Driving Awareness Month

One of the leading causes of car accidents is texting and driving. Texting while driving is an increasingly common practice across all ages. Statistics report that an alarming one in five drivers text while behind the wheel. It is not just a problem with teens anymore! Regardless of who is doing it, one thing remains the same; texting while driving is extremely dangerous and could end up costing you or someone else their lives.

Another name for texting while driving is called distracted driving, which, according to the NHTSA, was responsible for claiming 3,477 lives just in 2015. Distracted driving includes doing things like eating, putting on makeup, texting, messing with the stereo, and talking on the phone while you are operating the vehicle. Even using GPS devices can be a distraction.

To help you break this dangerous driving habit, here are some helpful tips for you and all of the drivers in your home. If your teen driver balks at the new rules, you have to be firm and make it very clear: they follow the rules or they don't drive the car at all.

One option to help teens drive safely is to enroll them in a defensive driving course. This will provide tons of valuable information and tips on how to avoid unsafe practices behind the wheel. Take it with them to make an even stronger impression.

Tips to Stop Texting While Driving:

  1. Turn the phone's volume to silent (and keep vibrate off) – If you are tempted to grab your phone when it’s ringing or you hear it vibrating, repress this urge by turning the volume and vibration off completely while driving. You can't be tempted by what you don't hear.
  2. Keep the phone out of sight and reach – For some hardcore texters, having the volume and vibrate feature off may not be enough. They may still be tempted to grab the phone "just in case" someone has texted them. Keeping the phone out of reach and out of sight can fix this problem. Put your purse in the back seat where you can't reach it. For super-stubborn texters, keep your purse or phone in your trunk. Then you won't even try to get to it.
  3. Pull over and stop if it is important – If it is that urgent to send a message or answer the phone, take a few extra minutes to pull safely off the road and THEN text or answer the phone. It doesn't take long to find a safe place to pull over. If an issue is not important enough to pull over and stop your vehicle properly for, it is not important enough to risk your life by messing with your phone while you are driving.
  4. Parents lead by example – You can't expect you teen to listen if you ignore the rules while driving. Let them see you turning your phone off and putting it away before you start the car. It will emphasize the point you are making when you require that they do the same. There should be no exceptions to breaking the rules you set. It only takes once to have a text cause you to be involved in a serious and potentially fatal car accident. It's not an age or experience issue, it is a safety and distracted driving issue.
  5. Use apps that can help monitor your teen while they drive – There are apps that lock the phone while the car is being driven, as well as texting behavior apps that can let a parent know exactly what is going on while the teen is behind the wheel. Regardless of what the teen may want, a parent must ensure, through whatever means necessary, that the no-texting-and-driving rule is being followed at all times.
  6. There must be consequences – You have to be tough when it comes to enforcing this life-saving and important driving rule. If you find that your teen is texting and driving, the consequences have to be strict and swift. There should be no second chances for this infraction. Letting it go and making it not a big deal could be sentencing your teen to a fatal accident. It IS a big deal, and as long as you treat it that way every single time, your teen will absorb its importance as well.

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