Frees Advice: Holidays

What’s Your New Years Resolution?

Happy New Year! Many of us are thinking about our resolutions for the new year. As you think of your goals and aspirations, it’s important to consider your insurance and make sure it is ready for the upcoming year.  Many of us set goals for our physical health; however, it’s important to also evaluate your financial health. A major part of this is revisiting your insurance and how it suits your needs.

A lot can change in a year. Have you remodeled your kitchen? Finally gotten around to renovating the bathroom that you kept putting off? Maybe you finished the basement during COVID for a little more space. All of these changes could affect your homeowners insurance and the amount of coverage needed.

If you purchased an e-bike to help you get into tip-top shape, there are serious liability limitations for these. We should discuss this immediately.

Now is also a good time to think about life and disability insurance. This helps ensure your loved ones will be taken care of in the event something happens to you. If you already have life insurance, now is a good time to review your beneficiaries and make sure they are still accurate.

We wish you the best in the New Year and we are here to make sure you are appropriately protected in the year ahead. If you would like to review your current insurance and make sure it fits you and your family’s needs, please reach out.

Golf Carts, Jet Skis, and Scooters, Oh My!

Ah, summertime. Time to kick back and head to the beach. There are all sorts of temptations while on vacation; cold drinks, rare steaks, and all manner of transportation. It seems that wherever you go these days, you can rent almost anything; scooters, bikes, boats, and my new favorites… jet skis and golf carts. I am sure that most of you give little, if any, thought to the insurance implications of items like this, but you should stop and think about the exposures before jumping into, or onto, your new ride.

There are always two exposures that worry us. First, and this one is easy, is what happens if the scooter, jet ski, or golf cart get damaged or stolen? Did you buy the extra coverage like the LDW on a rental car? Do you know if there is a deductible?

The other things that worries me is the liability. What happens if you injure someone or damage something while operating the unit? There is an absolute coverage exclusion under your home insurance for any liability for a “motorized land conveyance.” (The same limitations apply to boats and jet skis.) Just to be clear, an absolute exclusion means there is NO coverage. You will get to pay the attorney to defend you and you will get to pay the judgement if you loose.

Now that I have become the “wet blanket” for the summer time party, just be sure you know what you are doing and the potential consequences.

Election Day 2018

“When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another….” “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness….” For those of you who do not recognize this verbiage, they come from the opening lines of the Declaration of Independence.


“Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those others….” Winston Churchill


These are tumultuous times in our great nation. Reflect upon these great words authored by our Founding Fathers and Sir Winston Churchill. Election day is upon us. It is incumbent upon all citizens to participate in the process of governing by voting for the candidate who will best represent you. Don’t care to vote? You are then forced to accept that about which you cared so little.


God Bless America.

Happy Labor Day!

This Monday commemorates Labor Day. The day is dedicated to more than just the unofficial end of summer, the official start of the school year, or the final gasp before election commercial start. The day is dedicated to the celebration of the labor movement here in America and honors the social and economic achievements of all American workers. It is to recognize the contributions made to enhance the strength, prosperity, and well-being of this great nation.

As you grill your hamburgers, sit by a pool, or gather with friends, remember to stop for a moment and consider how truly great this nation is and how we got to be so fortunate.

God Bless America.

Father’s Day

Searching for the right gift for your husband this Father’s Day? Forget the expensive silk tie, do-it-all DIY tool or the latest high-tech electronics and get the father in your life something he really needs: additional life insurance.

Perhaps your husband, like most men, carries some life insurance. A study showed that about 74% of husbands have life insurance coverage (LIMRA Person-Level Trends in U.S. Life Insurance Ownership, 2011) with most men under 55 more likely to be covered by group life insurance through employers than by individual life policies.

But having life insurance and having enough life insurance are two different matters. The same study showed that, overall, men’s average insurance coverage decreased by about $45,000 in the past six years, with men between 25 and 64 carrying less life insurance compared with their older and younger counterparts. This means that their dependents—spouses, children and any other family members for whom they provide support—could find themselves at financial risk should the unexpected happen.

If it’s been some time since you and your husband had the “life insurance talk,” then let Father’s Day serve as the incentive to sit down and do the numbers. Use the following scenarios as a starting point to evaluate the type and amount of coverage your husband currently carries and consider if it’s enough. (More questions can be found here.)

If your husband is the sole breadwinner, is there enough insurance to cover the mortgage, provide for living expenses and pay for your children’s education?
If you have added a few “bundles of joy” since the last time he purchased a life policy, is the face amount enough to meet your expanded family’s needs?
If either, or both, of you are responsible for other family members—aging parents or a special needs sibling, for example—will the money be there to continue to provide that financial support once your husband is gone?

These are serious questions but critical to discuss, since life events are unpredictable, as Brigette Hunter found out. At 27, Brigette was widowed when her husband, Matt, was killed in a car accident. Because he had no life insurance, Brigette had to borrow money to pay his funeral expenses. When Brigette remarried, she and her second husband, Anthony, both bought life insurance policies, since they had three children and their own business to support. Unfortunately, Anthony died at 34 from melanoma. And while nothing could replace the love of a husband, the proceeds from his policy allowed Brigette to keep the business running and cover the family needs. You can watch her story here.

Not sure how much or what type to buy? LIFE’s Life Insurance Needs Calculator will help the both of you estimate the amount of money your family will need if your husband’s financial contribution is no longer available. Then use the interactive Life Insurance Product Selector to help you evaluate which is the right insurance type for you: term, permanent or a combination of both. Finally, schedule an appointment with a qualified insurance professional who can further educate you about available options and provisions.

It may not be as exciting as a new power tool or as delicious as a steak dinner with all the fixings, but a new or increased life insurance policy will continue to provide peace of mind for both of you for all the Father’s Days to come. And that’s a gift that your husband truly deserves.


4th of July

It’s almost time for the celebration of American Independence. What a wonderful occasion. While this great country is certainly not perfect, it is one of the greatest institutions of freedom in the history of the world. In addition to taking time out this coming week to enjoy the usual festivities of picnics, fireworks, family gatherings, and vacation, we should all take time to remember the Declaration of Independence. We include it here for your ease of reference. Enjoy and God Bless America.


The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Holiday Tipping Guide

The holiday season is traditionally the time Americans choose to thank those who provide them with year-round services. It’s important to remember that holiday tipping is truly about saying thank you. With a little creativity you can accommodate everyone on your list this year without blowing your budget.

Here are some things to consider when you’re deciding how to thank people, whom you will spend money on, and how much you will spend:

  • Your budget: First and foremost, you shouldn’t feel obligated to go beyond your personal budget.
  • If your budget does not allow for tips, consider homemade gifts; and if you’re not good with crafts or in the kitchen, remember that words are always a great way to express your thanks for a year of good service.
  • Any gift or tip should always be accompanied by a short handwritten note of appreciation. (Two or three sentences will be enough.)
  • Do you already tip regularly? If you tip at the time of service, you may forego an end of the year tip, or give a more modest holiday thank you. You may also choose to give a small gift instead.
  • The quality and frequency of the service you receive.
  • Your relationship with the service provider.
  • Location: Tipping averages tend to be higher in larger cities.
  • Length of service: The number of years you’ve been using the service.
  • Regional customs.
  • Type of establishment: Is it deluxe or moderate?
  • When in doubt, ask: Call the front desk and ask what is 1) accepted by the company, and 2) typical for what they see from other customers.
  • Common sense, specific circumstances and holiday spirit should always be your guide.
  • Don’t buy into the thought that if you don’t tip you won’t get good service for the coming year. If you think you’ve had bad service for this reason, you might want to consider changing companies or speak directly with a manager.


Holiday Thanking Recommendations

The table below contains our recommendations for holiday thanking, or tipping. These are not rules. Remember that averages and ranges can vary based on the type of establishment, regional customs, and your own budget. You never have to give cash and a gift, except in a few cases, such as when your child may give a gift to a babysitter in addition to your tip or thank-you. (Read more on the difference between a holiday tip and a holiday gift.) We understand that some people aren’t comfortable picking out gifts for those they don’t know well so there are cash amounts listed below, as a suggestion only.

Au pair or live-in nanny

Options: Cash or consider a gift. This person works closely with your family and you probably know them well.

Suggested Amount or Gift: Up to one week’s pay and a gift from your child(ren).


Regular babysitter

Options: Cash

Suggested Amount or Gift: Up to one evening’s pay and a small gift from your child(ren).


Day care provider

Options: Cash or a gift for each staff member who works with your child(ren).

Suggested Amount or Gift: A gift from you or $25-$70 for each staff member who works with your child(ren) and a small gift from your child(ren).


Live-in help (nanny, cook, butler, housekeeper)

Options: Cash and a personal gift

Suggested Amount or Gift: Up to one week to one month of pay as a cash tip, plus a gift from you.


Private nurse

Options: Gift

Suggested Amount or Gift: A thoughtful gift from you.


Home health employees

Options: Check with agency first about gifts or tipping policies. If there is a no gifts/tipping policy, consider a donation to the agency.

Suggested Amount or Gift: A thoughtful gift from you. (If gift-giving is not against company policy.)



Options: Cash and/or a gift

Suggested Amount or Gift: Up to the amount of one week’s pay and/or a small gift.


Nursing home employees

Options: A gift (not cash). Check company policy first.

Suggested Amount or Gift: A gift that could be shared by the staff (flowers or food items).



Options: Cash or gift

Suggested Amount or Gift: Up to the cost of one haircut or a gift.


Beauty salon staff

Options: Cash or gift depending on whether you tip well after each service.

Suggested Amount or Gift: Up to the cost of one salon visit divided for each staff member who works with you. Give individual cards or a small gift each for those who work on you.


Personal trainer

Options: Cash or gift

Suggested Amount or Gift: Up to the cost of one session or a gift.


Massage therapist

Options: Cash or gift

Suggested Amount or Gift: Up to the cost of one session or a gift.


Pet groomer

Options: Cash or gift (if the same person grooms your pet all year).

Suggested Amount or Gift: Up to the cost of one session or a gift.


Dog walker

Options: Cash or gift

Suggested Amount or Gift: Up to one week’s pay or a gift.


Personal caregiver

Options: Cash or gift

Suggested Amount or Gift: Up to one week to one month’s salary or a gift.


Pool cleaner

Options: Cash or gift

Suggested Amount or Gift: Up to the cost of one cleaning to be split among the crew.


Garage attendants

Options: Cash or small gift

Suggested Amount or Gift: $10-30 or a small gift


Newspaper delivery person

Options: Cash or small gift

Suggested Amount or Gift: $10-30 or a small gift


Mail carrier

Options: Small gift only

Suggested Amount or Gift: Please see below for a detailed description of the United States Postal Service’s gift regulations.*


Package deliverer

Options: Small gift only, no cash. (Only if you receive regular deliveries.)

Suggested Amount or Gift: Small gift in the $20 range. Most delivery companies discourage or prohibit cash gifts.



Options: Cash or gift

Suggested Amount or Gift: $20-80 or a gift



Options: Cash or gift

Suggested Amount or Gift: $15-80. $15 or more each for multiple doormen, or a gift.


Elevator operator

Options: Cash or gift

Suggested Amount or Gift: $15-40 each



Options: Cash or gift

Suggested Amount or Gift: $15-40


Trash/Recycling collectors

Options: Cash or gift (for private) check city regulations if it is a municipal service.

Suggested Amount or Gift: $10-30 each


Yard/Garden worker

Options: Cash or gift

Suggested Amount or Gift: $20-50 each



United States Postal Service Gift Regulations:

Mail carriers working for the United States Postal Service are allowed to accept the following items during the holiday season:

  • Snacks and beverages or perishable gifts that are not part of a meal.
  • Small gifts that have little intrinsic value (travel mugs, hand warmers, etc…) and are clearly no more than $20 in value.
  • Perishable items clearly worth more (large fruit baskets or cookie tins) must be shared with the entire branch.

Mail carriers working for the United States Postal Service may not accept the following:

  • Cash gifts, checks, gift cards, or any other form of currency.

Original Article from Emily Post

Holiday Candle Safety

The holiday season is almost here… What better way to get in the holiday spirit than some Christmas music and a nice winter candle? But did you know that from 2009-2013, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 9,300 home structure fires that were started by candles? These fires caused 86 deaths, 827 injuries and $374 million in direct property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association. December is the peak time of year for candle-related fires, so make sure you are taking the necessary precautions to mitigate the risk of fire.

In order to keep you and your loved ones safe during the holidays, here is a list of helpful tips from the National Candle Association…

  • Always keep a burning candle within sight. Extinguish all candles when leaving a room or before going to sleep. Be sure the wick ember is no longer glowing.
  • Never burn a candle on or near anything that can catch fire. Keep burning candles away from furniture, drapes, bedding, carpets, books, paper, flammable decorations, etc.
  • Keep burning candles out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Trim candlewicks to ¼ inch each time before burning. Long or crooked wicks can cause uneven burning and dripping.
  • Always use a candle-holder specifically designed for candle use. The holder should be heat resistant, sturdy, and large enough to contain any drips or melted wax.
  • Be sure the candle-holder is placed on a stable, heat-resistant surface. This can help prevent heat damage to underlying surfaces and prevent glass containers from breaking.
  • Keep the wax pool free of wick trimmings, matches and debris at all times.
  • Always read and follow the manufacturer’s use and safety instructions carefully. Don’t burn a candle longer than the manufacturer recommends.
  • Keep burning candles away from drafts, vents, ceiling fans and air currents. This will help prevent rapid, uneven burning, and avoid flame flare-ups and sooting. Drafts can also blow nearby lightweight items into the flame where they could catch fire.
  • Always burn candles in a well-ventilated room. Don’t burn too many candles in a small room or in a “tight” home where air exchange is limited.
  • Don’t burn a candle all the way down. Extinguish the flame if it comes too close to the holder or container. For a margin of safety, discontinue burning a candle when 2 inches of wax remains or ½ inch if in a container.
  • Never touch or move a burning candle or container candle when the wax is liquid.
  • Never use a knife or sharp object to remove wax drippings from a glass holder. It might scratch, weaken, or cause the glass to break upon subsequent use.
  • Place burning candles at least three inches apart from one another. This helps ensure they don’t melt one another, or create their own drafts to cause improper burning.
  • Use a snuffer to extinguish a candle. It’s the safest way to prevent hot wax splatters.
  • Never extinguish candles with water. The water can cause the hot wax to splatter and might cause a glass container to break.
  • Be very careful if using candles during a power outage. Flashlights and other battery-powered lights are safer sources of light during a power failure.
  • Extinguish a candle if it repeatedly smokes, flickers, or the flame becomes too high.  The candle isn’t burning properly. Cool, trim the wick, then check for drafts before relighting.
  • Never use a candle as a night light.


Insuring Holiday Gifts

Insurance is usually the last thing on people’s minds, especially around the holiday season. You are already spending so much on gifts, the last thing you probably want to do is spend more money.

Sometimes, some of those presents are high in value and you intend them to be around for a long time. Every person is different and must decide for themselves if insurance is right, but here are a few examples of when I would start to consider insurance:

1. Electronic devices are on just about everyone’s wish list and are among some of the priciest gifts. Smartphones, gaming devices, laptops, and tablets are just a few of many gadgets. Buying electronics is great for the family, but somewhere down the line one will get broken and the warranty will not cover you if it is your fault.

2. Jewelry is on just about every woman’s unspoken wish list. Whether they like simple or flashy, every woman would love jewelry for Christmas (hint hint fellas). Jewelry stores make it really easy to spend a lot of money on something that can easily be stolen.

3. If you just want to be safe. We all get put into situations where we do not know enough on a subject to make an educated decision. I’m always asking questions when deciding to purchase something because I just don’t know, and there’s nothing wrong with doing so. If this is you, you can call our agency with any questions you have about insuring Christmas gifts or other items at 610-933-4950.

Cyber Monday

We hope everyone had a terrific Thanksgiving holiday. Thanksgiving was as early as it can be. This gives everyone an extra week for shopping, parties, and time to enjoy the season. For those who had to work over this weekend, thanks for being there for all of us. Hopefully, for those who got to enjoy the break, it was a pleasant respite. But now, today, we continue the countdown to Christmas.  We had Black Friday, followed by Shop Small Saturday. Today is Cyber Monday. It is suggested that Americans will spend $3.5 billion today alone. The average person will spend up to 4 hours clicking and buying to take advantage of deeply discounted prices and free shipping.

Some security tips… Make sure you are not using a public Wi-Fi access. Use secure apps or websites for your purchases. Avoid phishing emails that may contain Malware.

Have fun and be safe.