Natural Disaster Survival Kit Checklist

Posted by Rachel Auerbach on Wed, Mar 19, 2014

New Jersey is prone to heat waves, hurricanes, ice storms and nor'easters, according to this USA Today interactive graphic. Learn how to be prepared in case you get caught up in one of these natural disasters!

1. The first thing to bring is water. FEMA recommends one gallon of water per person, per day, for at least three days.

2. Next, non-perishable foods. These include protein/power bars, trail mix, peanutbutter, crackers, cereal and canned tuna, fruit, vegetables and beans. And make sure you have a non-electric can opener.

3. You should pack your daily medications plus band-aids, bandages, dust mask, hydrogen peroxide, neosporin, aspirin, eye-drops and bug spray. You should also throw in a whistle in case you need to signal for help.

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Photo credit: Gobal X/Creative Commons

4. Pack a flashlight, and don't forget to bring extra batteries! Also extra tools such as a wrench, plier and even duct tape can come in handy.

5. Always have emergency cash on hand. If the power goes out, you won't be able to use your credit card or access money through an ATM.

6. Bring extra clothing and blankets.

7. Of course, your cell phone and charger. However, you should also bring local maps because if there is a power outage or you don't have service, your mobile GPS won't do you any good. In addition, a battery powered NOAA radio could be helpful.

8. Don't forget personal hygiene items such as a travel toothbrush, toothpaste and moist towelettes.

9. It's also smart to bring personal documents.

10. Last but not least, bring a pen and paper in case you need to write down important notes, phone numbers or directions. You can also use pen and paper to keep yourself occupied if the power goes out, or bring a book.

Tags: New Jersey natural disaster, survival kit checklist

What to Look for in a Contractor

Posted by Rachel Auerbach on Thu, Mar 13, 2014

According to the New Jersey General Contractor, “There is no state licensing board for the General Contractor, HomeBuilder and Home Improvement Contractor. However, there is a state registration program.”

So be extra careful when choosing a contractor. Make sure you check references and referall services like Home AdvisorAnother good resource to check out is Better Business Bureau. This lets people files complaints against contractors.

Talk with family and friends about contractors they would recommend. Don’t always go with the lowest offer, sometimes it's worth it to pay a little more for good quality. And once you find a good, credible contractor, do not let tasks be delegated to inexperienced subcontractors. 

Ask for a WRITTEN estimate with a complete breakdown of exact costs, which should include material and labor. In addition, get reviews from the contractor's previous customers.


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(U.S. Army Corps of Engineers photo by Marc Barnes)  

According to the Professional Insurance Agents of New York, the standard price to pay upfront for a contractor is 33 percent. You don’t want to end up in a situation like Mark Zarrilli. Zarrilli had to take his case to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s office when he paid $7,000 upfront, and then his contractor dragged his feet to complete the project. 

Have a contract drawn up with start and end dates, the specific work that will be done, payment agreements and warranty information. Make sure to include a hold-harmless clause. This guarantees (with respect to your liability) that the contractor will compensate damages done to people or property while on the job. If it’s not in writing, you won’t have proof if something goes wrong.

Make sure the contractor is bonded and properly insured. It’s OK to ask for certificates of insurance for workers’ compensation or general liability policies. 

If the contractor finds something like asbestos, the contractor must be licensed to deal with hazardous materials in order to proceed. If not, you should hire a licensed professional, or else you could be held liable if the material is not disposed properly.


Tags: Contractor, Homeowner, House, Work, Construction, Insurance, Liability

4 Tips to Properly Insure Your In-Home Business

Posted by Rachel Auerbach on Thu, Mar 06, 2014


Home-based workers are on the rise, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. If you fall into this trend, take a look at these simple tips to ensure your home business is properly protected.


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1. Check your Homeowners Policy: Your business may be protected under your homeowners insurance; however, it may not be enough. Many policies only cover up to $2,500 for business equipment in your home. Plus, a stolen business credit card or lawsuits involving your business are not covered.

2. Get Appropriate Coverage: You can look into adding a home business endorsement to your homeowners policy, you can purchase numerous individual business insurance policies to cater to the specific coverages you need or you can buy a business owner’s package policy that is designed for small businesses.

3. Run a Day-Care from Home? Purchase Liability Insurance Specifically for Your Business: Your homeowners liability policy does NOT cover your home day-care business. Purchasing an occurrence policy is the best way to stay covered if a child gets injured. Also, accidental/medical insurance covers injuries that are not due to negligence.

4. Don’t Forget Auto, Health or Workers' Compensation: If you use a vehicle to run errands for your business, you may need a separate business auto insurance policy. Health and disability insurance may be a smart purchase in case you become sick or injured and can’t work. If you hire employees, you should consider worker’s compensation insurance. 

Tags: Liability, in-home business insurance, worker's compensation, health insurance, auto insurance