Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Helpful Tips for Long Motorcycle Trips

Plan a motorcycle trip this summer.
   When it comes to traveling the highways and byways on a motorcycle, it is often said that the joy is not in the final destination, but in the journey. Seeing the country on a motorcycle should be all about freedom, exhilaration, the open road...but there are things that could happen that could turn your wonderful adventure into a nightmare.

Remember that handling a bike takes more skill and awareness than operating a car. You need to think of balance, maneuvering, the possibility of inclement weather conditions and maintaining your stamina. Experience is the best teacher, but here are a few good tips to help you feel better prepared to go on that long journey.

·       Know your limits: If you don’t have experience taking long rides, plan your trip to allow for an adequate number of stops. Put in longer days on the front end of the trip as they are probably going to be the days you feel the best and have the most stamina. Keep a close check on how you feel. If there’s any breakdown in your attention, you are putting yourself and others in danger.

·       Don’t rely on caffeine to keep you awake: If you’re feeling tired, you need to stop. Operating a motorcycle when your senses are less than one hundred percent is hazardous.

·       Prepare your bike before the trip: Change the oil and filter, check fork oil levels and fork seals, adjust cables, adjust drive and lube chains, inspect tires, check tire pressure and tighten fasteners. Check all gauges, lights and signals to ensure everything is working properly.

·       Test out any new accessories or gear before the trip: Don’t wait until you’re out on the road to pull that new rain gear out of the package or test out a new helmet only to find it doesn’t fit correctly, is defective or is different than what you thought you bought. 

·       Upgrade your tool kit before heading out: Make sure you have the necessary tools to avoid being stranded on the side of the road if something comes disconnected, or needs to be tightened or replaced. Consult your owner’s manual or shop manual for your bike and see what types of tools are recommended for your model. If the bike comes with a tool kit, examine it and determine if you need more tools. At any rate, always take the tool kit with you on the bike. You should at least carry the following tools with you: screwdrivers (assorted regular and Phillips), pliers, wrenches (Allen, Torx, spark plug, open-end, adjustable, and combination in sizes needed for your model), and Loc-Tite to keep fasteners from loosening or falling off.  Make sure you carry a flat repair kit and know how to use it.
Enjoy the scenery and have fun!

·       Make sure you have adequate insurance coverage with Towing and Roadside Assistance: Although you don’t want to think about bad things happening on your trip, there is peace of mind in knowing that if something goes wrong you have a customized insurance policy to cover it. And if your bike breaks down and can’t be ridden, there is nothing that takes the place of Towing and Roadside Assistance to bring you gas, a battery or to tow your bike to the nearest repair shop. Some companies will even offer Trip Interruption coverage, in the event that your bike can’t be ridden due to a covered collision, to help pay for meals and accommodations if you’re far from home.

·       Pack wisely: Make sure that you are aware of what you’re taking, that you pack light and only bring what you’ll need. Some things are necessary such as clothing, toiletries and rain gear, but limit the amount of things you pack and try to distribute weight evenly. Make sure that you have ways to secure your belongings, whether you take your luggage with you when you stop to eat or pack your valuables in lockable storage areas on your bike. Items that are left unsecured are a target for thieves, even if you’re only going to be away for a minute or two. Make a checklist and go over it a few times to ensure you have everything you need.

·       Eat right: When you’re out on the road, it’s important that you keep your energy and stamina up by eating well and frequently enough. Make sure that you build time for these stops into your travel plans. Carry water with you at all times and stop occasionally to drink and keep yourself hydrated.

·       Dress appropriately: Even in the summer, it can get chilly at night and in higher elevations. Bring along extra layers or an electric vest for warmth. Purchase good quality rain gear and put it on before it starts raining. Once your clothes are wet, you’ll be very uncomfortable with damp clothes on underneath your rain gear. You should also dress to be seen. Make sure your outer layers are bright colors, and a brightly-colored helmet is helpful as well. The better other motorists can see you, the safer you are.

·       Get gas before you need it: Don’t wait too long, otherwise you could end up far from a gas station and in need of fuel. Bring a cell phone along just in case you need to call for Towing and Roadside Assistance.

·       Plan ahead: Spend time each night going over you travel plans for the next day. Get a feel for the route, how long you think you’ll ride and places where you might want to stop.

·       Keep it fun: Remember the reasons you chose to take a long trip on your motorcycle. Enjoy the scenery, use opportunities you get to meet new people and see new things if that was one of your reasons...or enjoy your freedom and time alone if that was your goal.

If you plan ahead and are prepared, long motorcycle trips can be incredibly rewarding, fun and memorable. Following these tips can’t guarantee that nothing will go wrong... the possibility surely exists when you’re dealing with the elements and unfamiliar places. But it will help ensure that you’re prepared for just about any surprises that may occur.

Visit and see what Horizon can offer with the Motorcycle program or any of our other specialized programs for off-road vehicles, mobile homes, motor homes, travel trailers, personal watercraft and boats!

For more information go to

Monday, July 25, 2011

Boating Safety Tips

 When Out on the Waves, Put Safety First

   Weather can change abruptly in a moment’s notice. Other boaters may intersect your path. Emergencies happen.

Applying these safety tips can help you enjoy the wind and the waves – and add to your peace of mind.

Boating Safety Tips

Watch for bad weather
Be aware of weather

Stay alert for bad weather signs while boating. Listen to a portable weather radio while on the water. If a Small Craft Advisory is announced, get to shore immediately. Because water conducts electricity, it’s important to get off the water at the very first sign that lightning could strike.

Know the rules

- You are responsible for the safety of those on board your boat and other boaters. Learn to recognize
   distress signals and rules:

- The vessel on the right has the right of way, as well as any boat being overtaken

- Powerboats must yield to sail boats, row boats and paddle boats

 - Stay well clear of all big vessels

- Navigate slowly and cautiously in a narrow waterway

Take care in cold water

Hypothermia can kill. If you must enter cold water, button up any clothing you can, put on your Personal Floatation Device (PFD), try to cover your head and enter the water slowly. If your boat capsizes, it will likely float on or just below the surface of the water.

Try to get as much of your body out of the water as possible by climbing onto the boat. Do NOT discard clothing; it will help trap heat. Draw your knees up to lessen the escape of heat. And if there are several people in the water, huddle together so you can conserve heat.

Stay sharp

Alcohol, drugs, medications and fatigue can all impair your ability to reason and make sound judgments. Up to half of all boating accidents involve alcohol, and a person under the influence is up to 10 times more likely to be killed in a boating accident than one who has not been drinking. Combining the effects of alcohol and cold water can also speed the onset of hypothermia, causing even good swimmers to drown.

DO NOT drink or take any medication or drugs that might impair your judgment when operating your boat.

Practice boating safety

   Water skiing, knee-boarding and tubing

The driver of the boat, the person being pulled and the observer must operate as a team. You all need to know the equipment, boating laws, the fundamentals of the sports and how to work together to make these water sports safe and fun. Make sure you know and use hand signals. Ensure the water where you’re boating is free of obstacles. And when you’re picking up a fallen skier, approach carefully from the driver’s side so the skier is always visible. Turn off the engine when near a skier to
avoid injury from the propeller.

Learn more

Improve your boating skills by taking a beginner or experienced boating safety course. The United States Power Squadron, United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, United States Sailing Association and the American Red Cross all offer boating safety courses on what you need to know to hit the waves safely. And taking a boating safety course might make you eligible for insurance discounts as well.

Horizon insures specialty products
Not only can you trust safety information from Horizon, but you can trust our broad insurance policies that give you the coverage you want. Contact your local Horizon agent today for a policy that gives you more!

Choose Horizon

Check out our other insurance programs at for Manufactured Homes,
Specialty Homeowners including Landlord, Vacant and Rental Properties, Motorcycles, Off-Road Vehicles, Motor Homes, Travel Trailers, Boats, Personal Watercraft and Collectible Autos.

To get the right coverage for your boat go to

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Smoke Detectors Save Lives

Fire Prevention Tips for Homeowners

Smoke alarms save lives.

   More than half of all fatal home fires occur while people sleep. That’s why smoke detectors are so essential. They can warn you before you smell smoke and give you time to get to safety. We recommend at least one smoke detector on every level of your home, including the basement and the attic.

Here are some important things to remember when installing smoke detectorsTo be extra safe, install one both outside and inside all sleeping areas.Having at least two smoke detectors in your home makes it far less likely that both will be inoperative at the same time.

If your smoke alarms are wired into the home’s electrical system (hard-wired),
you will need to have a qualified electrician do the initial installation or install replacements.

For battery powered smoke alarms,
all you will need for installation is a screwdriver. Some brands are self-adhesive and will easily stick to the wall or ceiling.

Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions
because there are differences between the various brands. Remember: Battery-powered smoke alarms typically require batteries to be replaced at least once per year. The whole unit should be replaced every 8-10 years.

If your home’s smoke detectors are powered by electricity,
add at least one battery-powered detector in case of power outages.

Choose a smoke detector that’s been approved by an independent laboratory.

Test smoke detectors monthly.
Never disconnect the batteries.

Test your alarms while your children sleep to make sure they will wake them up.
Sometimes the sound of a smoke alarm doesn’t wake small children.

Change batteries at least once a year
whether the batteries seem weak or not. Listen for the detector’s signal or beep that indicates a weak battery and change it immediately.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to clean your smoke detectors.
Excessive dust, grease or other materials may cause them to operate improperly. Vacuum the detector’s grillwork.

Make sure your alarm is loud enough.

For more information on smoke  alarms:
please visit the USFA Web site at

Make sure your covered for fire. For a free review of your homeowners policy contact us at:

Monday, July 18, 2011

Protecting Your Motorcycle Against Theft


    According to National Insurance Crime Bureau statistics, motor vehicle thefts are on the rise, and among the vehicles being targeted are motorcycles. It’s one thing to have your property stolen, but if it is something you love and have become attached to, that is a different story altogether. And only 25% to 30% of motorcycles are recovered after theft.

Thieves steal motorcycles to resell the whole bike or to strip it down and sell the parts. The fact that motorcycles are small and relatively easy to move makes them particularly vulnerable to theft. Smart thieves will find a way to steal your bike if they really want it, but there are things you can do to protect your investment and make your motorcycle less appealing to a thief. You can make it bothersome for them to try to steal it.

There are several relatively simple and inexpensive ways to help protect your motorcycle from ending up in the back of a thief’s van. One of these methods alone might not be enough to deter a determined thief, but using more than one – or better yet, several – of these methods just might make the difference in whether a thief stops at your house or keeps going.

Keep Your Bike Out of Sight

The best bet is to keep your motorcycle in a locked garage. For some people, this might not be an option. If you have to keep your bike parked outside, start by keeping it in a well-lit area and out of direct view from the street. It should be covered with a plain cover that is free of logos or brand names. If the thief can’t tell by the cover what type of motorcycle is underneath, they may be more inclined to pass it over. In addition, you should keep the cover locked to the bike with a cable lock. However, this won’t prevent a thief from picking up the whole bike and taking it, cover and all. That’s why it is important to use this in conjunction with other security measures.

Lock Your Bike to a Stationary Object

Even if you have your bike in a locked garage when not in use, it is a good idea to also have it locked to something immovable. One method would be to cement a steel eye to the floor to put a chain or cable through. When using a chain or cable lock, be sure to loop it through the frame or another stable part of the bike. When you’re out riding and leave your bike parked outside, always use your steering lock – this is your first step of defense. In addition, you should use two or more locks of different types. If possible, park your bike where you can see it and check on it periodically.

Make Good Lock Choices

When choosing locks, it’s not a good idea to spare expense. Choose good locks. Types of locks include serpentine link locks, u-locks and chains. Record key numbers and then file them off the locks if they are stamped on them. Locks attached to your bike should not touch the ground. If a lock is lying on the ground, it is easier for a thief to use a hard item to pound the lock until it breaks. Even if you keep your motorcycle in a locked garage, it’s always a good idea to look around to make sure you’re not providing a thief with the tools to dismantle your locks. There are usually a lot of tools in a garage and with time and determination, a thief will be able to remove the locks from your bike.

Other Devices

There are several new mechanical devices that can help ensure you’ll find your bike where you left it. Many dealers are now selling motorcycles with alarms as a standard feature, as well as similar anti-theft devices. An alarm alone is not an effective deterrent, but in combination with other methods, a wailing alarm is liable to make a thief think twice. Even if your motorcycle isn’t equipped with an alarm, you can get stickers that say that there is an alarm installed and put them on your bike. You can also purchase anti-prying devices, pick-resistant mechanisms or you can install one or more kill switches to make the motorcycle impossible to start.

Common Sense

The best way to protect your motorcycle from theft is to use common sense. Don’t leave the keys in the ignition or anywhere within close proximity to the bike. Make sure that you choose the safest places possible to park or store your bike. And don’t lock your bike down to something that can easily be moved or broken and assume it’s still going to be there when you come back.

   Insure Your Investment

    In addition to being confident that you are doing what you can to protect your motorcycle, it’s important that you have the right insurance. You need an insurance policy that offers the coverages that are important to your specific bike and lifestyle. If you think your motorcycle is adequately covered when you add it through an endorsement on your homeowners policy, chances are you’re mistaken...a lesson that you don’t want to learn first-hand come claim time.

Important things to look for when choosing a specialized insurance policy for your motorcycle are things like:
·       Safety Apparel Coverage to protect your investment in helmets, leathers, gloves and any other clothing designed to minimize injury in the event of an accident.
·       Optional Equipment Coverage for chroming, custom painting, side cars or anything else that was not included as standard by the manufacturer.
·       Optional Towing and Roadside Assistance in case your bike breaks down and can’t be ridden when you’re away from home or you run out of gas, get a flat or have mechanical issues.
·       Optional Replacement Cost Coverage on bikes purchased new and insured within 30 days.
·       Flexible payment plans so you can choose the plan that best fits your budget.
·       Deductible and coverage limit options.
·       Premium discounts.

Horizon Income provides all of these important coverages and more in our specialized Motorcycle insurance program. Horizon has been in the specialty insurance business for many years and we understand that you want to protect your investment. 

For more information about a specialized Motorcycle insurance policy from Horizon, you can call 1-866-479-2777 to locate an agent near you. Or visit  and see what Horizon can offer through the Motorcycle program or any of our other specialized programs for off-road vehicles, mobile homes, motor homes, travel trailers, personal watercraft and boats!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Preventing Boat Theft

Protect your boat from theft.

   Boats are easy targets for thieves.  Boat theft costs the insurance industry and customers about $40 million per year. Boats frequently sit in your driveway, at a marina or in a yard unattended and are attractive to professional thieves or people just walking, driving or even boating along.  Thieves that target boats often come by water.  Every year there are thefts of small outboards from marinas with good security.

Often the damage done by thieves trying to get into a boat exceeds the value of items stolen.  Most thefts involve items that can be easily disposed of for money, like stereos, CD players, televisions, tools, dinghies and small outboards.  Thieves rarely steal the marine electronics because they are harder to resell and generally require another matched component to operate. 

So, what can you do to prevent theft of your boat or equipment?  One thing to keep in mind is that most thefts occur when you are away from your vessel—at night, during the week, particularly after a long holiday weekend or during the off-season.  These are the times when you should be more vigilant.

The boating world is a lot like a small rural town where most people leave their doors unlocked.  Most boats are equipped with minimal locks that are easily broken, opened, or bypassed.  The first mistake boat theft victims make is to refuse to believe that it has happened to them.  When a boat is stolen, owners often assume it must have been moved by marina personnel or borrowed by a friend, wasting valuable time.  Time is of the essence when a boat is stolen.  Law enforcement authorities should be notified immediately.  The longer a theft goes unreported, the more difficult it becomes to recover the boat.

Trailerable boats are easy marks for theft.  Many owners do little to lock their trailers.  Anyone with a trailer hitch can easily steal the boat and be gone in seconds.  Trailers should be locked to either your vehicle or a permanent object such as a tree or pole.
The more precautions you take to prevent theft, the better.  Make these simple steps part of your routine.

Remove easily transportable items.

   Locks work.  Thieves are quick operators.  The more time and trouble it takes a thief, the more likely they will be discovered or move to another vessel.  Lock your outboard, sterndrive, trailer, and hatches.  There are special lock nuts for outboards and sterndrives to prevent their theft.  Replace all the locks that come with the boat with security-type locks. Remove easily transportable electronics from your boat when you are going to be away for some time. Alarm systems rarely work well on boats because of their propensity for false alarms and the remote locations of marinas.  People often ignore an audible alarm.  Alarms must alert the marina, an alarm service or you to be effective.

Never leave the original registration on your boat.   Make this part of the equipment you bring to the boat each time you plan to take it out on the water.

Engrave stereos and electronics with your driver’s license number.  This makes them harder to resell and easier to trace. You can prevent personal belongings from “walking off” your vessel by putting your name or the name of your boat on cushions, fishing gear and other loose items in permanent marker. Do not leave your valuables in plain sight.

Keep photographs and videotape of your boat in a safe place at home.  Photos can be particularly helpful in the recovery of a boat. Include with your home records a list of everything normally kept on the vessel including serial numbers, photos, manufacturers, and the boat’s HIN.  All of this will make it easier if you need to file a claim and can help you recover your boat and/or belongings in the event of a theft. 

Do not leave a key aboard.  Thieves know all the hiding places.  If you must, leave keys with the marina. When you are out boating for the day and are going to be away from your boat, take the ignition key with you.

Anything you do to make your boat less attractive to thieves will decrease your chances of becoming a victim.  But, in the event you are a robbed, there are several steps you should take:

1.             Contact the law enforcement authorities immediately.   Provide as much detail as possible about your boat and trailer, including the HIN & VIN, registration numbers, engine and outdrive serial numbers.  It’s a good idea to keep all of these numbers at hand, preferably in your wallet.  If you do not have these numbers with you, get them to the authorities as soon as possible.  The first 24 hours are the most critical for recovery.  Delay is your enemy. 

2.             Be persistent with law enforcement.  Make sure that all your information is entered in the NCIC (National Crime Information Center) system as soon as possible.

3.             It is important that you become involved in the effort to recover your boat.  Contact marinas, gas docks, restaurants, etc. where your boat may put in.  If possible fax or e-mail them a photo, preferably within 24 hours.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

This September: A Time to Remember. A Time to Prepare.

This year Horizon Income is joining Ready America to help spread the word on emergency preparedness. Go to to sign up, and participate in events to help prepare your family and community in the event of an emergency.

By Darryl J. Madden, Director,
Ready Campaign

This September will mark the ten year anniversary of 9/11 and we ask you to take time to remember those lost as well as time to make sure you are prepared for future emergencies. September is National Preparedness Month (NPM), which was founded after 9/11 to increase preparedness in the U.S. It is a time to prepare yourself and those in your care for an unexpected emergency.

If you’ve seen the news recently, you know that emergencies can happen unexpectedly in communities just like yours, to people like you. We’ve seen tornado outbreaks, river floods and flash floods, historic earthquakes, tsunamis, and even water main breaks and power outages in U.S. cities affecting millions of people for days at a time.

This September, please prepare and plan in the event you must go for three days without electricity, water service, access to a supermarket, or local services for several days. Just follow these three steps:

1. Get a Kit:
Keep enough emergency supplies on hand for you and those in your care – water, non-perishable food, first aid, prescriptions, flashlight, battery-powered radio – for a checklist of supplies visit
2. Make a Plan: Discuss, agree on, and document an emergency plan with those in your care. For sample plans, see Work together with neighbors, colleagues and others to build community resilience.
3. Be Informed: Free information is available to assist you from federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial resources. You can find preparedness information by:
Accessing to learn what to do before, during, and after an emergency
Contacting your local emergency management agency to get essential information on specific hazards to your area, local plans for shelter and evacuation, ways to get information before and during an emergency, and how to sign up for emergency alerts if they are available
Contacting your local firehouse and asking for a tour and information about preparedness

Police, fire and rescue may not always be able to reach you quickly, such as if trees and power lines are down or if they're overwhelmed by demand from an emergency. The most important step you can take in helping your local responders is being able to take care of yourself and those in your care; the more people who are prepared, the quicker the community will recover.

As FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate reminds us, "Individuals and families are the most important members of the nation's emergency management team. Being prepared can save precious time if there is a need to respond to an emergency." For more information on NPM and for help getting prepared, visit or call 1-800-BE-READY, 1-888-SE-LISTO, and TTY 1-800-462-7585 for free information.

This September: A Time to Remember. A Time to Prepare.

To make sure your property and loved ones are covered in the event of an emergency, please visit

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Get out and use your Personal Watercraft!

Family enjoying a ride.

Have fun, but put safety first

Personal watercraft have become more and more popular on the waterways. And no wonder. With the adrenaline rush of instant acceleration, skimming over the water and waves at brisk speeds, coupled with the ability to turn like any other watercraft, personal watercraft can be a blast. There are stand-up and sit-down models with various engine sizes ranging from 550 c.c. to Personal watercraft:
1494 c.c., which can generate speeds up to 70 m.p.h.

While riding a personal watercraft is an exhilarating experience, the operator and passenger have to have fun safely.  Personal watercraft are involved in a lot of accidents because of their speed. It’s no surprise that in the event of the accident, injuries can be catastrophic because you’re completely exposed. There’s no cabin to protect you.

Wear proper gear.

So before you power up, consider these DO’S and DON'TS:
• Before you buy, remember that there is a learning curve. Start with a lower powered personal watercraft and progress to the more powerful models as your ability and experience increases.
• Ask your personal watercraft retailer to provide you with an instructional how-to video.
• Learn safe operation from an experienced and safe operator.
• Give the personal watercraft some throttle and lean in the direction of your turns, otherwise it is very likely you will lose control and fall.
• Don’t jump wakes, you may jeopardize yourself and other boaters.
• Wear personal flotation devices, and provide them for passengers.
• Do give right of way to sailboats, commercial and fishing vessels.
• Give wide berth, stay aware of other watercraft, be courteous, and above all, be safe.

To learn more about personal watercraft safety, contact the U.S.Coast Guard, local marine patrol, state boating authorities, U.S. Power Squadron, or the American Red Cross. You may get additional information by calling the Personal Watercraft Industry Association at 1-407-629-4941.
For more information on your watercraft checkout

Monday, July 11, 2011

Theft Prevention Tips for Homeowners

Protect your home this summer.

Ways to secure your home before you leave
for vacation
By using these theft-prevention tips to protect your home and possessions, you and your family will have extra peace of mind, whether you’re away for a day or on vacation.

Make your home looked “lived in” even when you’re not there

Have a trusted neighbor pick up your mail and newspapers.

Arrange for someone to mow your lawn or shovel snow.

Ask a neighbor to park a car in your driveway while you’re gone.

Use timed switches on your lights, TV and stereo. Look for timers that turn on and off randomly.

Never advertise your absence by taping a note to your door or announcing it on your answering

machine/voice mail.

Turn your telephone ringer down or off. This way a burglar is less likely to hear the ringing of

unanswered calls and realize no one is home.

You can add to the security of your lighting system and cut your electric bill by installing a motion

detector on outside lights. This will activate your lights when anyone comes within range of the unit’s

motion sensor.

Follow these tips from law enforcement officials

Join a Neighborhood Watch group. Most police departments have officers who will help you start a

program. Neighbors can help watch your home when you’re gone.

Keep valuable items in your safe deposit box, such as stocks and bonds, duplicate copies of your will,

stamp and coin collections and jewelry you don’t frequently wear.

Give parking lot attendants and mechanics your ignition key only, not your house key. Don’t carry

an identification tag on your key ring. This could help a would-be thief easily identify your home

and vehicle.

Consider installing an alarm system for an extra level of protection. You have a variety of choices –

from do-it-yourself kits that trigger a siren or lights to professionally installed systems connected to a

police station or monitoring service.

Post signs in your windows showing you have a security system.

Lock your doors and windows when you leave, whether you’ll be gone a few minutes or a few days.

Avoid leaving an extra “hidden” key outside your home, such as under the doormat or in

a mailbox or planter.

To make sure you always get in, leave a duplicate set of house keys with

a trusted friend or neighbor.

For more information go to