car safety essentials

As the trip season begins, it’s exciting to see families hitting the road to various destinations – I’m particularly keen to explore more of the north this summer, especially Derbyshire and West Yorkshire. However, anticipating a journey, we often forget about basic safety precautions and set off without getting our vehicles prepared. Lots of people get into accidents every year just because they ignore such safety basics as properly inflated summer tyres and fresh engine oil. We’ll tell you about safety essentials you must have in your car to avoid dangerous situations on the road.

Check brakes, wheels, and tyres

Emergencies happen even with well-maintained cars; however, you can considerably decrease your chances of getting in trouble if you get your car checked by the professional mechanic before you hit the road. What to pay attention at? First of all, inspect the braking system. Replace brake pads if you notice signs of wear and ensure brake fluid is fresh and in place. Check if the wheels are properly aligned (you should better have a mechanic do it) and if your summer tyres have acceptable tread depth (1.6mm for the UK and Europe). Get your tyres inflated correctly to the psi recommended by the car manufacturer and maintain the right pressure during the trip checking it with your tyre pressure gauge. Buy tyres in Wakefield from experts like Ossett Tyre House, check their website for info.

Prepare the emergency kit

Except for a standard first-aid kit (make sure it is a ‘personalised’ kit that contains medicines based on your family’s specific needs), you should prepare a small bag of emergency items such as a flashlight, jumper cables, flashers, an old towel or a rag (in case you’ll need to get underneath your vehicle), a phone charger, a multi-purpose tool (a set of full-size tools is always better), a warm blanket, and water for you and your passengers (3-4 pints per passenger per day of drive).

Always use safety belts

It may sound boring, but they really save thousands of lives annually. Before setting off, check if your front and rear seat belts are in proper working condition. Kids heavier than 20lb must travel only in car seats suitable for their age. If you have never used a car seat before, you should learn how to fasten it with seat belts or lower anchors beforehand (watch some ‘how-to’ videos on the Internet or read the guidelines) because tackling the installation in the last minute can be challenging. Older children and other adult passengers must be fastened with individual seat belts.

Image – Toa55/shutterstock

Insurance is one of those things that tend to fall into two followers, people who have insurance for everything and never think about it, and those that have only what they consider to be the bare essentials and shop around for the best deal on those few products. If you are an insurance broker you know you have dealt with both types of customer, and each has their own unique preferences that allow you to match them with the right insurance products.

The difficulty becomes with so many products on the market how to match the right insurance products to match your customer’s needs. Beyond this, your customers are coming to you, as a specialist insurance broker, because they don’t know the legislation, they don’t know who is offering the best deals, and they don’t know what questions to ask to ensure that they get the best insurance.

One of the options available to Insurance brokers that is not available to their customers is software solutions like SchemeServe at schemeserve.com which allows brokers access to a customized, branded, solution that runs on website and mobile – meaning your brokers can go to your clients and not need to go back to the office to sign up new clients.

Do Your Clients Know What They Need?

One of those marketing terms that gets bandied around is the “upsell”, however in insurance your customers are more likely to appreciate the down-sell. You are more likely to retain your customer as a long-term client, as well as building a relationship built on trust, if you are able to offer them good advice on what insurance they should take up in consideration of their circumstance.

Should your client with a car worth $2,000 get full comprehensive insurance, or are they better going with a lower premium that covers third party damage, and using the difference to save for a better car?

What about life insurance? What would be the best option for Miss 18 and single? Different to Mr 48 with 4 kids?

If they have their car insurance and household contents insurance with the same company will they get extra benefits?

Do You Know Your Clients Well Enough?

Nothing is going to do damage to your relationship with your client that the insurance company you brokered for them not paying out on their claim. As their broker you need to make sure you ask all the right questions to ensure that they won’t be denied because of prior history. Does your client actually have a full and clean license that is appropriate for the vehicle they are insuring? With some health and life insurances policies a history of depression can affect a pay-out, or their ability to get insurance.

Do Your Clients Know You?

No, you shouldn’t be on call 24/7, but your clients should know how to get hold of you in an emergency, and the difference between an emergency and an annual policy assessment. Do your clients know when you will be contacting them about renewing their policy? Do you have a standardised system where you let them know their policy is up for renewal and run through a quick questionnaire to make sure that they are still using the best insurance products? Do your clients know that you will be doing this for them? If not, let them know that this is part of the service that you offer, that you want to work with them.

Remember that you are a specialist in both insurance and risk management, and that you are a qualified professional whose job is to look after the interests of your clients. Don’t hide that you are a member of the Chartered Insurance Institute, and let your client know that this means there are checks and balances in place that you will abide by. Let them know they can complain here if they feel you’ve misled them. Often professionals shy away from letting customers know that there is actually a complaints procedure, but if you emphasis that the first step should be to let you know, then you are more likely to get feedback rather than just have your client go with another broker in the next annual review.

Clear Communication

Insurance documents are notorious for being difficult to understand when it comes to reading the fine print. But, as above, ensuring that your client knows what they are signing up for means that they are going to be much happier with you as their broker.

However, make sure that any communication you have with your clients is recorded in writing, and in easy to understand language that is also accurate. There is no need to skirt around ‘bad’ information or clauses that mean they would lose their insurance cover. This is exactly the sort of information that will set apart a good broker that gets a portfolio of clients for life. It may be as simple as spelling out that Mr & Mrs Smith 15year old daughter is not insured to drive their car, or something more complicated that says if their unpermitted alteration causes any damage to their home or their neighbours that their insurance will not cover the expense.

Attentiveness And An Eye For Detail

If you don’t have an eye for detail, ensure that you have procedures in place that provide checks and balances for all of your work. This is where really good software can be brilliant. Being able to tick a few boxes and be provided with the information you need is great, but being able to go through a list of questions with your client and ensure that you have all the information you need to accurately provide them with the best service is better.

If you have software that you can customise then make sure you have customised it for your needs, to act as a double check system to catch all those little things that you might forget (like to ask if they have underage drivers in the house that might want to drive the car). If you haven’t yet invested in software designed for insurance brokers, then you may need to get out your excel spreadsheet or legal paper and manually work out where you need to focus on to ensure that you never miss an opportunity or required detail.

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boiler cover options

My house. IN MY DREAMS.

If you’ve been considering boiler cover and fancy a free £40 Amazon voucher then BOY OH BOY, you are in luck today.

When I bought my very first house in 2017 there were a lot of things I’d never had to think about before. A fricking great DEBT for a start obviously, that I won’t pay off until I’m about 143, but smaller things too.

Like the ROOF. When you live in a rented house, you never have to worry about the roof. It’s just sort of there, covering you, and if anything goes wrong with it then it’s someone else’s problem. Ditto the plumbing, wiring, sewerage, radiators – basically ALL OF THE THINGS.

Being very sensible and nearly 40 at the time, I realised that you probably can’t take the ‘satsuma on the dashboard‘ approach to owning a house, like I do with owning a car. I would need to think carefully about grown up things like insurance, having the number of a good electrician and where to put the gin cabinet.

I’ve always been a big believer in only insuring against things you couldn’t otherwise afford to pay for. Obviously there is stuff you HAVE to have, like buildings insurance, but I’ve never spent money on extended warranties for electrical appliances, or cancelling train tickets or anything like that, because I could afford the hit if I absolutely had to.

In my new house though I decided that there were some things that, having used all of my savings for my deposit, I wouldn’t be able to afford to pay for should anything go wrong.

For example, I now have pet insurance*, because I really never want to have to spend thousands of pounds on a teeny cat leg plaster cast. The boiler and central heating system also fell into this category.

Apart from anything else, I wouldn’t actually know what to DO, in a first response sort of a way, if the boiler broke down – who do you even call? How much is the call out fee? How does ADULTING WORK??

*takes deep breaths*

Besides, I’m a very big fan of being warm – I definitely didn’t want my boiler out of action. View Post

I have to admit that I’ve not spent a lot of time in Yorkshire. We did visit as part of our tour of all of the counties of England, (I think I even ate a giant Yorkshire pudding there), but it’s quite far from Somerset, and so I’ve not visited as much as I have other parts of the UK.

A good friend of mine has moved back to Yorkshire from Jersey though recently, and I have plans to visit her there soon. I also have Joey of course, my new Grandson, and I’m planning on taking him on a LOT of mini-breaks, so I may well find myself navigating Yorkshire with a pushchair in the not too distant future.

If you like a day out, but you also need somewhere accessible for pushchairs or for wheelchairs, then you may find this infographic helpful as it shows lots of accessible days out in Yorkshire. I think they all look really interesting, but I particularly like the sound of the sculpture park – anything that gets you out and about and adds to your step count at the same time as being interesting works for me.

I wonder which baby Joey will like when he gets older? I’m imagining the railway museum could be a hit – what toddler doesn’t like to look at trains? I’m partial to a train ride myself to be honest and really enjoyed the ride I took on the old postal train at the new postal museum in London recently. We also have a steam railway quite near us, so I’m sure Joey will get an outing or two on that before he’s very old.

If you’ve visited Yorkshire recently and have any suggestions for accessible days out then do leave a comment and let me know, or share your stories if you’ve visited any of the days out recommended by the infographic.

accessible days out in Yorkshire

Being a single mom can be rewarding, but at the same time, exhausting. This is especially true if your kids are too stubborn to sleep early every night. Instead of getting some shut-eye, you and your kids will end up staying up until the wee hours, which can adversely affect both of your schedule and productivity the next day. If you have been struggling to get your kids to sleep early, let this article help.

Gone are the days when kids would immediately sleep once their playtime is over. Even if it’s already late at night, they can still find ways and means to be busy. Having this kind of lifestyle can pose serious health risks to your kids in the long run. To avoid this from happening, here are some ways to get your kids to sleep early:

Invest In A Good-Quality Mattress

It’ll be easy for your kids to fall asleep if they are already comfortable in their bed. The cozier their bed is, the easier it’ll be for them to drowse off. You can start by investing in a good-quality mattress. You can do this by scouting for several options and reading product reviews such as those from Sleepjunkie.org. Make sure that you end up buying a mattress that has the softness that your kids want. After buying the best mattress, look for comfy linens, pillows, and blankets, as well.

Always Keep The Room Cool

It’s no secret that that sleeping patterns are affected by temperature. Whenever your kids fall asleep, their body temperature gradually drops. The colder the temperature is, the easier it’ll be for kids to sleep and remain asleep. To expedite this process, keep your kids’ room cold. If you have an air conditioning unit, turn it on minutes before sleeping time. This way, the room will already be cold once they come in and decide to sleep.

If your home isn’t equipped with an AC unit, you can opt to have a fan inside their room or let cold air in through the windows if the temperature outside isn’t too frigid.

Read A Bedtime Story

Reading a bedtime story is probably one of the oldest yet most effective ways of getting your kids to sleep early. If you’re curious why, it’s simple: bedtime stories are something that your kids can look forward to hearing every night, and they know that they can only listen to the story or its continuation when it’s about time to sleep. Whenever you read a bedtime story to your kids, their imagination also becomes active. This can become an effective avenue for you to bond and spend time with your kids. Reading the story in a calm and soothing voice works in a similar way as lullabies do, which helps your child eventually fall asleep. Make sure that you’re reading a story that’s also suitable to your kids’ interests and age.

Maintain A Consistent Bedtime Routine

Getting at least eight hours of sleep every night isn’t only crucial for your kids’ development; it’s also important for their productivity as a student. When they’re deprived of sleep, it’ll be hard for them to focus in school and maintain mental alertness. If you don’t want any of these to happen, maintain a consistent bedtime routine. You can implement a normal process of eating dinner, taking a bath, and brushing their teeth so they will be in their beds the same time every night.

Aside from maintaining a routine, you should also introduce cues so that they can form a consistent habit and be physically and mentally prepared for bedtime.

Tire Them Out

Kids can be really energetic. Instead of sleeping in the evening, they would usually play with their toys for hours. Not only is this unhealthy to their sleeping routine but to their general health as well. One of the easiest ways to get your kids to sleep early is to tire them out minutes before their bedtime.

Depending on their interests, you can prepare fun activities, such as painting or drawing, or come up with your own dance moves and invite your kids to join in. The crazier the activity is, the better. You’ll be surprised how fast they’ll doze off after these activities!

Consider Variety

A single strategy can have different effects on kids. One strategy might work wonders for some but not for others. For you to find the best strategy in getting your kids to sleep early, be patient and try out different things. This will give you an opportunity to assess which strategies actually work (and don’t work) for your kids.

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It has ALL being going on in my bedroom this last week.

(Not like that, rude.)

First I closed down my neighbourhood one woman peep show by getting the new blind, and now I have a NEW PILLOW. I know, I know, it’s pretty racy. Honestly, I don’t know why anyone ever complains about being fed up or lacking a purpose when there’s excitement like this potentially around every corner.

Kally Sleep side sleeper pillow review

Perhaps this pillow will be the thing that stitches my midlife unravelling back together? Okay, so that’s unlikely, but still, it’s nice to at least be comfy in bed while you wrestle with your existential thoughts.

The pillow in question is the ‘ultimate side sleeper pillow’ from Kally Sleep.

Here’s what the website says about it:

‘The Ultimate Side Sleeper Pillow has been designed to give side-sleepers balanced support, helping to prevent neck and back pain during sleep. Its walled sides help to align your head, neck and spine and offer an extra level of quality comfort, maintaining its shape over long periods of use.’

And here’s what I say about it: View Post