Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Car Insurance that Covers Your Dog, Too

Early each morning, I pack up my dogs, Bobby and Tennessee, and drive a few miles to a scenic country road, where we walk along quiet vistas of open meadows and wooded streams, serenaded by occasional turkey calls and seasonal birdsong.  It's our tranquil time together, and we all look forward to it.

But I found myself wondering what would happen if our peaceful morning ritual were to be shattered by a collision with a car or a school bus.  I hope that never happens, of course, but I was pleased to learn that here in Massachusetts, there are at least two insurance companies that will reimburse medical (or even burial) costs for canine or feline passengers who are injured in vehicular accidents.

Progressive has been offering this coverage at no charge for more than five years.  It will pay up to $1000 toward veterinary costs if your dog or cat sustains injuries during a car accident, fire, or theft.

Arbella Mutual, based in Quincy, MA, offers Massachusetts drivers an optional pet coverage rider that pays up to $500 towards vet bills for a dog or cat who is hurt in a crash.  In contrast to Progressive, Arbella Mutual charges a nominal $20 annual fee for this additional protection.

My current insurer doesn't offer this option, at any price, and I think I owe it to Bobby and Tennessee to switch to a company that does.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Conquering Winter with an Electric Snow Blower

I admit it.  I hate winter.  And the truth is, I'm afraid of it.  I panic at the sight of a snowflake.  I tremble at the hint of flurries, and I manically monitor AccuWeather forecasts for weeks in advance, dreading snow and ice that may never come.  I'm a winter wimp.

My winter dread has been fueled by a lack of proper equipment to tame the snow when it eventually arrives, as it inevitably does.  My longtime plow guy and I parted ways a ew years ago when he charged me for plowing the driveway after I had already shoveled the whole thing myself.  I was able to skip along relatively unscathed during last year's relatively modest storms, but I'm afraid I'd allowed myself to become too complacent.  I was completely unprepared when two significant snowstorms hit right after Christmas.  It took me two days to dig down to the end of my 100' driveway, and I admitted defeat.  I needed help.

It came in the guide of the Greenworks 20-inch 12 amp (Electric) Snow Thrower.  It was everything I wanted:  lightweight, inexpensive (I paid $150 on Amazon, with free shipping), and best of all:  it didn't require gasoline or oil.  You just plug it in.  It arrived a few days after New Year's, and sat in its box until today, when I had to tackle the task of assembling it after a 5" snowfall.  I've never been very good at that, but it basically came down to fitting a few metal pieces together and tightening some screws.  In 15 minutes, I was good to go.

I'm laughing at myself as I write this, incredulous that I've been inspired to write about a snow blower.  That might seem silly, but to me, it's nothing short of liberation.  That nifty little green machine cleaned my driveway down to the blacktop with minimal effort in about 90 minutes. With the Greenworks in my arsenal, I'm not trapped anymore, and winter suddenly seems a lot less daunting.  I'm free, at last.