Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Driving Under the Influence

Pills Stock Photo

  • Wine Glasses Stock Photo
  • New study shows prescription drugs are involved in fatal car crashes at three times the rate of marijuana, and alcohol is a factor in half of fatal crashes
  • Drivers in fatal car crashes are much more likely to be taking multiple drugs than 20 years ago, and also more likely to be above age 50
  • Psychoactive drugs impair faculties needed for driving, such as motor skills, balance, coordination, spacial orientation, and reaction time
  • New study says alcohol kills one in 10 working-age adults; combining alcohol with marijuana or other drugs magnifies driving impairment

Pictures courtesy of

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014


With the holiday season in full swing it is important to protect yourself from these common holiday scams.
While many of these scams are used throughout the year, they are often given a new twist for the holidays.

Bait-and-Switch – Scammers frequently use cheap tablets, smart phones, MP3 players, jewelry and gift
cards as part of bait-and-switch scams. They may approach you in a mall, on the street or online offering a
deal that is too good to be true. They may even allow you to check out the item, but rest assured, after the
money is exchanged you will not get the item you were expecting. Only purchase big-ticket items from
respected retailers and avoid paying for items with cash, money orders or wire transfers.

Hard Luck Stories – Scammers often take advantage of the holiday spirit of giving. They may send an email
requesting assistance or approach you in public. Scammers will often have an elaborate hard luck story and
sometimes even use children to elicit sympathy. Some scammers may pose as stranded holiday travelers in
need of assistance to get home for the holidays. Be wary of these scams and never give your address, bank
information or large amounts of cash to strangers.

Charity Scams – Fake charity scams also take advantage of the spirit of giving. Beware of scam charity
emails. Research a charity before making a donation to make sure they are legitimate. If making an online
payment, check the website address in the browser to make sure you are on the correct site and not a
duplicate scam site. You should never make large donations in cash and always ask for a receipt.

Gift Card Swap – The rise in popularity of gift cards has led to a new type of scam. Scammers will use high
tech scanners to read the numbers off of the gift cards sold in the aisles of major retailers. They will then
return the cards to the store shelf and monitor them to see when they are activated. Once activated, they will
use the card numbers to spend the funds before the intended recipient has a chance to use the card.
Whenever possible purchase your card from behind the counter of a retailer.

Email Greetings – Holiday emails can sometimes be a Trojan horse for hackers. Do not open attachments
from senders you do not know and be wary of strangely worded emails and subject lines. Make sure your
computer’s antivirus software is up to date and use it to scan anything suspicious.
Article courtesy of Legal Sheild
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Friday, December 12, 2014


It’s the time of year for icy winter weather. And as your insurance agent, I have to share
a few things to get you prepared before the winter storms hit!
First things first, you want to have the right supplies on hand. Create a basic
emergency kit that includes a battery powered radio and at least one week’s worth of
food and safety supplies. Also include:
Drinking Water
Canned/No-Cook Food
Non-Electric Can Opener
Prescription Medicine As Needed
First Aid Kit
Bag of Cat Litter or Sand to add traction on walkways
Battery Powered Lamps
Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Alarm in working order
And what about when bad weather hits? Here are a few things to put on your winter
storm checklist:
• Leave water taps slightly open so they drip to prevent frozen pipes.
• Open kitchen cabinet doors under the sink to keep the pipes warm.
• Have an alternate heat source in case the power goes out. If the fireplace, make sure
you have plenty of dry firewood.
The most important thing you can do? Be prepared! A benefit to winter storms is that
you generally have plenty of warning that one is on the way. Don’t wait until the roads
are icy and dangerous. Get your supplies packed, your pipes protected, and a backup
plan in case of a power outage. And make sure that you have great Homeowners
Insurance! We can help with that. Call us for a free quote today at 703-556-7857.

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Thursday, December 4, 2014


Every month, we share easy tasks you can do to keep you home in tip-top shape all
year long. So as we wind down 2014, here are a few simple tasks you can take on in
• Replace all of your home’s air filters to keep them working efficiently.
• Check all faucets and pipes for leaks.
• Remove drain covers and clear the drain of any gunk. Consider running baking soda
and vinegar down the drain to clean it too. This small task could prevent a slow
backed up drain later.
• Replace water filters in your refrigerator or faucet to keep water tasting fresh.
• Check drainage around the house and gutters, especially during winter weather.
• Check car tires for tread wear and have tires rotated. Are your tires ready for ice or
snow? • Save on Home Insurance - Homeowners Insurance is an important part of protecting
your home and belongings.
To make sure you have the very best coverage (and the most affordable rate), call us
today for a free, no obligation quote from Fowlkes Insurance Services at 703-556-7857.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Have you started your holiday shopping this year?  Before long, people will be lining up in stores and placing their orders online.  It’s an annual shopping frenzy.

But have you stopped to think about what your family really needs this season? 

For many of my clients, it’s Life Insurance. 

Life Insurance is what protects your family if something were to happen to you or your spouse.  Think about what you would want for your family in that situation.  Would you want your wife to be a stay at home mom?  Would you want your kid’s college education to be paid for?  Would you want your family to pay off the mortgage and be debt free? 

Life Insurance is about preparing for the unexpected and making sure your family is taken care of.  It’s not a fun thing to think about for a lot of people, but it’s very important.

Many people avoid buying life insurance because they think it’s expensive.  But that couldn't be farther from the truth!  In fact, life insurance is extremely affordable, especially for a young healthy family.

So before you stand in line buying coffee pots and crock pots this Christmas, stop and think about what is truly important.  Purchase life insurance and insure that your children will be taken care of for years to come.

Call me at 703-556-7857 today for a no-obligation life insurance quote from Fowlkes Insurance Services, Inc.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

November Home Maintenance Tasks

Every month, we share easy tasks you can do to keep you home in tip-top shape all year long.  So here are a few tasks you can take on in November!

Maintain Large Appliances - Appliances are a big long-term investment!  That’s why it’s important to take good care of them all year long.  Your refrigerator is a great place to start.  Accumulating dust can make your fridge cooling system less efficient. 

To prevent trouble, regularly pull the fridge away from the wall and clean the condenser coils with a vacuum cleaner.  It’s also a good idea to dust and clean the front lower grille.  This five minute task can add years of service to your refrigerator!

Clean The Oven & Stove Drip Pans - Next move on to your stove.  It’s another appliance that needs a good regular cleaning to keep it working well.  Many ovens have a self cleaning feature that will do the hard work for you. 

The only problem?  It can take a while to run the cleaning feature and it usually smells pretty bad while it’s running.  Save this task for a nice day and open up the windows to keep it well ventilated.  Check your stove manual for instructions  and take a few minutes to clean the burners too. 

Have Problem Trees Trimmed - Cold weather has arrived.  Have you noticed any large branches hanging over onto your roof?  Get them trimmed as soon as possible.  A good ice storm can cause branches to break onto your roof leading to more damage and insurance claims. 

Save on Home Insurance - Homeowners Insurance is an important part of protecting your home and belongings.  To make sure you have the best coverage, call Fowlkes Insurance Services today at 703-556-7857 for a free, no obligation quote.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

October is Fire Prevention Month

October is officially Fire Prevention Month. As your insurance agency, this is an issue
that is very important to us! Unfortunately, we've seen clients suffer from home fires,
but there are things you can do to prepare now to prevent a disaster later.

Beyond basic fire prevention, like checking cords and not leaving a pot unattended on
the stove, there are several important things to do with your children or grandchildren to
make sure they're safe.

First, create a PLAN. When children know what to expect, they can remain calm, even
during an emergency. Help your child know exactly what to do if a fire occurs.

Stress the importance of getting out of the house and to your family meeting spot.  Choose an area a safe distance from the house where children should go if making a
fire escape. It could be a street light, mailbox, or neighbor's tree.

If you have pets, tell your kids that your pets will find their own way out safely and that
they should never go back to rescue the pet on their own.

As a family, go through each room of the house and discuss TWO different ways to get
out if a fire occurs. Let children practice opening a latch and unlocking doors too.

Now host a fire drill! Make the practice drills fun and informative. Create sample
scenarios and build up your kid's confidence. They'll be better prepared for a fire and
you will too!

When it comes to any sort of emergency situation, people are what matter most. Take
precautions to protect your loved ones and let your professional insurance agents at
Fowlkes Insurance Services, Inc. take care of protecting your home and belongings! Call us at
703-556-7857 for a free quote on your Homeowner's Insurance today!

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

October Home Maintenance Tasks

Every month, we share easy tasks you can do to keep your home in tip-top shape all
year long. So here are a few simple tasks you can take on in October!

Pack Away The Air Conditioner - If you use a seasonal air conditioning unit, then now
is the time to pack it up for winter! Make sure to spend a few extra minutes cleaning all
the filters and coils well. It will keep the unit in great shape and it will last much longer.

Winterize External Plumbing Systems - It's much better to prepare for freezing
temperatures before it's freezing! Winterize all exposed outdoor pipes and you'll avoid
the trouble when there is snow or ice on the ground.

Check Your Carbon Monoxide Detector - This is an important one! October is a great
time to check your carbon monoxide detector to make sure it is performing well.
Change the batteries, test it, and replace older units.

Clean Up For Halloween - Trick-or-treating can be a liability hazard! Clean up any
loose tree limbs, fill holes in the yard, and remove any fire hazard Halloween decorations before kids are running to your door.

Save on Home Insurance - Homeowners Insurance is an important part of protecting
your belongings. To make sure you have the best coverage, call us at 703-556-7857 today for a free, no obligation quote.

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Four Financial Must Do's After Purchasing a New Home

This checklist can help guide you through some important financial decisions and documents you should have in place for your family. Knowing that you have taken important steps to protect your family’s finances will help you sleep sound under your new roof.
  1. Create a Will. A will is the most important financial document you can have. It ensures that the care of your family and your property will take place according to your wishes in the event of your death. A living will can also specify the kind of medical treatment you want if you are seriously or terminally ill. Have a lawyer help you draft up your will and medical wishes, or use software that can help you do it yourself. Once these are done, provide copies of these documents to your family and primary care physician.
  2. Fireproof Important Documents. Storing important personal financial documents in one easy-to-find location is key in the event of an emergency. Think financial accounts, contact numbers, logins, and passwords in addition to passports, marriage licenses and social security cards. A fireproof safe or a safety deposit box at the bank is a good investment for any home buyer and can ensure safe-keeping of your most valuable information.
  3. Adjust Your Life Insurance. You have worked really hard to purchase your home. If something happened unexpectedly, life insurance could ensure that your family could afford to remain in the home. Talk to your financial representative to find out which kind of life insurance makes the most sense for your situation.
  4. Build a Nest Egg. While you're setting up your household budget, take time to set a little aside each moth to contribute to either a college savings or retirement fund. Working the dollars into the budget now will help you stay on track with your contributions.

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Friday, June 13, 2014

Personal Umbrella Policy: What is it and Do I need one?

Protecting your family and assets is a top priority, which is why people have insurance.  But what happens if you find yourself in a situation where your insurance is not enough?  Well, that's when a personal umbrella policy could help cover you.

A personal umbrella policy (PUP) is a type of insurance that provides liability coverage over and above your automobile or homeowners policy.  So, if your liability coverage isn't enough to cover the damages of an accident you cause or an incident on your property, a personal umbrella policy kicks in right where your other liability underlying limits have been reached.  An umbrella policy can protect you when your automobile or homeowners insurance isn't enough.

In most cases, personal umbrella policies are available in million dollar increments, from $1 million to $5 million.  While PUP coverage is not required, it offers increased protection in the unfortunate incident of an accident.

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Photo Courtesy of Natara/

Friday, May 16, 2014

Steady Income for Retirement

Annuities give you steady income for a set time or for your lifetime.

  • Build savings. Annuities are long-term investment vehicles that help you accumulate your retirement savings over time.
  • Get paid. Annuities may provide a regular source of income that you can rely on.
  • Bank on safety. Some annuities guarantee that your money will earn a fixed interest rate.
  • Boost income. Other annuities give you income right away and some take risks to earn more money so that your savings have the potential to grow more over time.

Will your money last as long as you will? 
If you are not sure check out this website -
Will you live to be 100?

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Invest in a Boating Education

 Family enjoying time on their Allstate insured boat

Finally, the warm weather has arrived! All boat owners are anxiously awaiting the moment they can get their boat launched for the season.  When the boat is ready why not get yourself ready with a boating course.While not all states require boat owners to take a boating education course, anyone who drives a boat could benefit from these classes.  Beyond all the helpful safety tips you will learn, completing the course can also earn you a discount on your boat insurance.  Boating education courses aren't always mandatory, but that doesn't mean you should skip the investment.  Courses are offered around the country for all types of recreational boaters and for boaters of all ages.  These courses are taught by organizations such as the U.S. Cost Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Power Squadrons and state boating agencies.
Boating education programs cover a range of topics from safety instructions to boat handling to reading the weather-and prepare you for a variety of situations you could fine yourself in while on the water.  The good news is these courses seem to be making a difference - boating accidents are declining.

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Your Car is Stolen - What do I do Next?

Becoming a victim of vehicle theft can be a frustrating experience, but we've got some tips to help you deal with the crisis.
Think It Through - It may seem like a no-brainer, but it's important to consider whether your car was actually stolen - not towed, misplaced or possibly even repossessed.  Take a moment to make sure there's no other explanation for the absence of your car.  If you think your car has been towed, check to see if your vehicle has been impounded or repossessed.
Call The Police - If you're certain that your car has been stolen, it's time to call the police and file a report.  You'll need to give a detailed description of your vehicle, and if possible, it is helpful to have your vehicle identification number (VIN), registration, license plate number and driver's license available when you file the report.
Be Tech-Savy - Many automakers now offer a telematics system, which can help law enforcement officers find your stolen car.  If your vehicle has any type of system that may help to locate it, make sure to notify the police.
Call Your Auto Insurance Company - After you've filed a police report, call your insurance company to let them know your car has been stolen.  Informing your insurance provider can help protect you in case your car is used to harm or cause damage after the theft.  It helps if you can give a good description of your vehicle, the location of all your keys and a list of any personal property inside the car.  If your car is leased or financed, you should also call the lender that you used to purchase the vehicle.
Stop Car Theft Before It Happens - Make sure you always lock your car, take your keys with you, and avoid keeping a spare set hidden in your car.  Never leave your car running, and make sure the doors are locked and your windows are rolled up.  It also helps to park in a well-lit area and hide any valuables that might attract thieves.
Check out this great website Prevention Zone for tire safety basics.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

I've been in a car accident.....Now What?

Consider these steps to take after an accident

1. Check for Injuries - First thing, take care of yourself and others.  find out if anyone is hurt.  If anyone requires emergency assistance, call 911.
2.  Exchange Info - Share Insurance information with the other drivers, as well as names, addresses and
phone numbers.  Write down the other vehicle's make, model and license number.
3.  Witnesses - Ask for permission to contact in case you need them. 
4.  File Report - Call local law enforcement to the scene or go to the nearest station to complete a report.  Try to obtain a copy or ask the officer for the report number.
5.  Take Photos - If you're traveling with a camera or camera phone, it's a good idea to take pictures at the scene.  Get shots of the vehicles involved, damage and license plates.  This kind of documentation may help later with your claim.
6.  Contact Your Insurer - Contact your insurance company as soon as possible to report your accident and any damages.

TIP FOR THE DAY - I've had clients who were not at fault, but the other person changed their don't need to, but if someone steps up and says what happened get their information.

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Photo Courtsey of SalvatoreVuono/

Monday, February 24, 2014

Creating a Household Inventory

Create a Living List
The best loss is one that never happens … but if you are subject to a loss, how can you help prevent the hassles of creating a list of the things that were lost or damaged or stolen from memory alone? By creating a living inventory of the items in your home. Sound difficult? It’s easier than you think with the Allstate Digital Locker tool for your smartphone. And by the way, anyone can download the tool for free (you don’t have to be an Allstate customer).

Digital locker is a free tool from Allstate that allows you to create a visual inventory of your personal property. With it, you can use your camera or phone to take pictures of your items, organize them by room or category, assign a value to them and store them safely in the cloud.
How does it work?
• Secure Account – Digital Locker allows you to create a username and password so that you can access your account from any internet-connected device
• Templates – We provide you with room and category templates to help you get started with your inventory process and create a property catalog
• Photos – You can either take photos with your smartphone or use existing photos to add to your inventory for a visual reference of your items
• Item Value – You can also enter information on the value of your items (you can use your best judgment, or use the Google or barcode search)
• Synchronized Data – You can access your “locker” from the app or the website and back up your inventory to Allstate’s secure data cloud
What are some of the advantages of creating a home inventory?
• Online, secure inventory of your personal property that can help you itemize your possessions for insurance purposes
• Putting the value on your possessions may help you determine what your insurance limits should be
• Home inventories help you to keep track of your possessions and help replace items due to a loss (and may even help streamline the claims process)
• Easily accessible information from any internet-connected device
• You can share the information with others, so that they are aware of your personal property and its value
• You can print or email a copy of your inventory as needed
• In the event of a claim, it will help you prevent the hassles of trying to recreate a list or description from memory

February 2014

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Carbon Monoxide Safety Tips for Chimney and Furnace Season

With winter doing its thing, many are enjoying a warm fireplace.  Please read for your safety.

How do you protect yourself?  Here are some important safety tips from the U.S. Fire Administration that can help keep you safe from carbon monoxide poisoning this winter.

Furnace and Chimney Safety Precautions
-Have fuel-burning heating equipment and chimneys inspected annually by a licensed professional.  This includes your furnace, water heater, wood stove and any portable heaters.
-Make sure the damper is opened and clear of debris before using a fireplace.
-Never use your oven or stove to heat your home.
-When purchasing new appliances, look for products that have been tested and are labeled by a recognized testing laboratory.
-Make sure all fuel-burning equipment is vented to the outside and is kept clear and unblocked.
-Damaged or discolored bricks at the top of your chimney, moisture around the windows and walls near a furnace, and excessive rust on vent pipes or the outside of appliances can all be signs of potential CO problems.  Call in a professional if you spot these signs.

CO Alarm Testing and Replacement
-Run a test on you CO alarms at least once a month, and replace them if they aren't responding correctly.  Sensors in carbon monoxide have a limited life.
-A CO alarm isn't a substitute for a smoke alarm, and visa-versa.  You should familiarize yourself with the different sound each alarm makes.
-If the carbon monoxide detector is beeping, go outside and immediately call 911 or the fire department.

Do you have a carbon monoxide detector?  If not why not?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Winter Storm Preparation

Severe weather can produce freezing temperatures and power outages.  In addition, using alternative heat sources may add the risks of fire, electric shock and carbon monoxide poisoning.  The Red Cross proposes the following steps to insure your safety.
Ready Your Home
-Move items indoors if they could be buffeted by wind (e.g., patio furniture, garbage cans, toys, etc.)
-Elevate any items in the basement that could be damaged by flooding
-Insulate any exposed water lines and caulk any openings which may allow cold air to flow across interior supply lines
-Know the location of your main water shut-off in the event you suffer a burst pipe
-Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
-Ensure that family members can locate and operate fire extinguishers
If Your Area Is Blanketed By Extreme Cold
-Expose water pipes to warm air flow by opening doors to under-sink cabinets (remember to remove any harmful products and place them out of reach of young children and pets)
-Open doors to closets where you suspect water lines may run through the walls.  If water lines run through the garage, keep any/all garage doors closed.
-Adjust your thermostat so that it does not reduce the overnight temperature
-Periodically flush the toilets and run faucets (helps relieve pressure that builds up when pipes freeze, causing them to burst).  Trickle water from faucets connected to pipes you suspect will freeze overnight.
-Hair dryer may be used to help thaw pipes.  Open the faucet and slowly direct air across the pipe starting at the faucet end.  Do not use electrical appliances when standing in water.
-If you use auxiliary heaters, be careful to set them up at least three feet from flammables.  Plug directly into wall (i.e., avoid using extension cords).  Turn them off before you leave the room or go to bed.
-Vent all fuel-burning heaters to the outside
-Run back-up generators outside only
-Never use the oven to heat the house
If You Lose Power
-Recent study suggest 20 degrees is the temperature at which un-insulated water pipes freeze, but pipes exposed to flowing , subfreezing air are at risk even above this level.
-If you cannot adequately heat your home, IBHS suggests that you drain the plumbing system by closing the main water value and running every fixture (both hot and cold) until the water stops.
-Monitor local news channels for weather updates and go to designated public shelters if you are alerted to continued, extreme cold
photo courtesy of Maggie Smith/

Monday, January 6, 2014

5 Winter Driving Tips

The following winter driving tips will help prepare you for whatever Jack Frost throws your way this season:

BE PREPARED - keep an emergency kit in your car.  Should contain such necessities as an ice pick, snow shovel, brush, basic tool kit, kitty litter or sand, flashlight with extra batteries, booster cables, first aid kit, warning flares/reflective triangles, nonperishable food items and extra clothes/blankets to keep you warm.

CHECK YOUR TIRES - Your tires are your main connection to the road, so be sure they are inflated properly. As temps drop, so does the pressure in your tires - typically 1 pound per square inch for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

REMAIN CALM IN A SKID - Increase following distances on ice and snow so that you have at least 8-10 seconds (if not more) between yourself and the vehicle in front of you: this will give you ample time to respond to road and weather hazards.  Practice gentle acceleration and braking to maintain consistent traction in snowy and icy conditions; if your wheels begin to spin release the accelerator until traction returns.  If your vehicle begins to slide or skid, DO NOT PANIC!  Look down the road in the direction you want to go and gently steer in that direction.  Do not slam on the brakes, as that will upset the vehicle's balance and make it harder to gain control.

STAY IN CHARGE - A strong and fully charged battery is an absolute necessity in cold weather.  Be sure connections are clean, tight and corrosion-free to ensure full-strength winter starts.

STEP UP TO NEW SAFETY TECHNOLOGY - Practically every automaker offers electronic traction and stability control systems that work along with the car's anti-lock braking system to assist drivers in slippery road conditions.  These safety systems all function to help the driver maintain control in curves and turns, especially in wet or slippery conditions, by detecting when the vehicle begins to slip and reducing the throttle and applying the brakes to individual wheels to help correct the vehicle's orientation.  Traction systems also prevent the vehicle's drive wheels from spinning while accelerating under slippery conditions.

picture courtesy of Dan/